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Puckapunyal

Puckapunyal (more formally the Puckapunyal Military Area, but also known as the Puckapunyal Camp or Puckapunyal Army Base, and colloquially as "Pucka") is an Australian Army training facility and base 10 km west of Seymour, in central Victoria, south-eastern Australia.

Details

  • Area:412.657 km2
  • Elevation:228 m
  • Population:1,078
  • Local Government Area:Mitchell Shire Council

Description

Puckapunyal (more formally the Puckapunyal Military Area, but also known as the Puckapunyal Camp or Puckapunyal Army Base, and colloquially as "Pucka") is an Australian Army training facility and base 10 km west of Seymour, in central Victoria, south-eastern Australia. # History ## Military use The area was first used as a mobilisation and training area during World War I. During the early 1920s, an ordnance store and rifle range were built on the site. In 1939, the area was formally established as Puckapunyal Camp: the name was taken from the Aboriginal name for a large hill within the training area, which has been variously translated as "death to the eagle", "the outer barbarians", "the middle hill", "place of exile", and "valley of the winds". The base was used to train the Second Australian Imperial Force, as other Army establishments were at capacity training Militia units. The original site was too small for wartime training, and an additional 5,700 hectares (14,000 acres) were acquired. As well as Australian units, the United States Army's 41st Infantry Division trained at Puckapunyal.In 1949, the 1st Armoured Regiment was raised at Puckapunyal. The regiment remained based at Puckapunyal until it relocated to Darwin in June 1995.During the 1950s, Puckapunyal was host to the 3rd National Service Training Brigade (see National Service Act 1951).During the Vietnam War, national servicemen conscripted under the National Service Act 1964 outside of Queensland and New South Wales were sent to Puckapunyal (soldiers from these states trained at Kapooka or Singleton). They were trained by the 2nd Recruit Training Battalion, with up to 4,000 soldiers at Puckapunyal at any given time.By 1988, subsequent land acquisitions had increased the training area to 39,290 hectares (97,100 acres).The National Service barracks were transferred to the Third Training Group in the 1980s to provide recruit and promotion training for General Reserve soldiers and also promotion training for Reserve Officers attending the Reserve Command and Staff College.This continued until the closure of the Training Group in June 2000. During 1999 and 2000, citizens from Kosovo were housed in the Training Group barracks (as well as at other military barracks around the country) as part of a temporary protection program called Operation Safe Haven in support of the NATO activity in the province.They returned to Kosovo once the situation there had stabilized.It serves as a testing ground for armoured fighting vehicles. ## Puckapunyal Restoration and Conservation Project In the 1970s and 1980s, the Army undertook a land rehabilitation program, as decades of heavy use had caused major land degradation. At the time, it was "one of the largest single landscape revegetation operations yet attempted in Australia and perhaps anywhere." Wilkie summarises the project as follows: Historical land use impacts and heavy military usage, with little attention paid to land management or maintenance, eventually left the area barren and denuded. Although attempts at revegetation occurred in the 1950s, by the 1960s parts of the site were impassable because of waterlogging and severe erosion. For the tanks of the armored division, these areas were unsafe and unusable. One newspaper described it as the “most desolate and barren military camp in Victoria.” By 1969, the Army was faced with two alternatives: “(1) to rehabilitate the area, or (2) to abandon it with consequent loss of facilities and the certainty of having to face similar problems elsewhere in the future.” The former option was taken. The Puckapunyal Restoration and Conservation Project began work in 1971. Officially operating under the auspices of Defence, the research and scientific support for the project was provided by the Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organisation (CSIRO), while the Victorian Soil Conservation Authority managed operations and provided its expertise in soil erosion and land restoration. By 1985, the extensive program of earthworks, soil and water erosion control, and revegetation had been completed on 20,000 hectares of land. Some 5,000 hectares of barren and denuded landscape was repaired, and 16,000 hectares of improved pasture had been established. At the completion of the project, land management and scientific officers were appointed to continually monitor and research the Puckapunyal site. A rest and restore program was implemented, creating “no go” areas where the land was overused, where new vegetation was establishing itself or was otherwise sensitive to environmental changes, or where research was being conducted. Elsewhere, Wilkie has argued that "Although conservation programmes emphasised utility for defence requirements, the restoration project of the 1970s and 1980s had, in reality, reimagined Puckapunyal as both a military training area and a natural landscape for vegetation and habitat for animals ... the restoration project appears to have been a net benefit to native animal populations, providing habitat and sanctuary for various species that are endemic to the grassy woodlands that have otherwise not been well protected under traditional conservation models ...Puckapunyal provided a testing ground for defence approaches to animal conservation that continue to develop to this day." # Weather # Things to do

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