Our Bunnings Sausage Sizzles at Taylors Beach are not only tasty ways to raise money for the Museum, but a great way for locals and visitors to relate their personal stories of their time here in Port Stephens.
At our November Sizzle Brian Clulow, a Fitter and Turner in the 1960's with the 32 Small Ship Squadron, Royal Australian Engineers gave the TMA some exceptional photos of the AV1353 Harry Chauvel landing troops at Little Beach near Nelson Bay.
The AV Harry Chauvel was one of four World War 2, US Navy landing craft purchased by the Australian Navy in 1959 primarily to move the 54 ton Centurion tanks of the 1st Armoured Regiment from their base in Puckapunyal, Victoria.
This series of photos of the craft landing at Little Beach, near where the current boat ramp is now, shows how they were also used to move people, vehicles, equipment and stores to remote and otherwise inaccessible coastal areas in Australia, Papua New Guinea, Indonesia and Vietnam during the war.
The visit of the AV135 Harry Chauvel must have been a big day in `the Bay' as from the photos it looks like many locals turned up to see what was going on. During the 60's most of the vessels in the Squadron visited Port Stephens including the smaller LCM8 craft that are now based in Townsville. If you lived in Port Stephens during this time it was not uncommon to see `Army Duck's' on exercises in the port during the 60's and into the 70's.
It's a fair bet that the Rolls Royce in the photo below belonged to one of the Army `Brass' on hand to witness the exercise.
These are truly rare colour images of Little Beach before the area was cleared and the holiday apartments were built. The Halifax Caravan Park, built in 1946 is just out of the photo's frame.
They came all this way with all that equipment and no one thought to bring a fishing line.
Just for a bit of fun, what part of Port Stephens do you think the AV135 Harry Chauvel is passing in this photo? Let us know in the comments section below.
Included below is a PDF file of the history of the 32 Small Ship Squadron.