q Battlefield Tours
q National Network
[All photos used in this
Report were taken by
the 2013 Cadet Tour members -
thanks..., Di and others.]
(There's larger versions of
these two Group pics below.)
Eggs came in dozens of different varieties - chicken, duck, goose...
some with yokes and others with un-hatched chicks still in the shell.
Even though Vietnam does not officially celebrate Christmas.
you'll notice Chrissy decorations in the pic
Hydrofoil jetty at Vung Tau.
Vung Tau city.........
Along the way, we saw workers in the rubber plantation
tapping the latex - the sap from the trees that makes the rubber product.
The place on the north-south road where the first contact of the
Val and Dave
A wreath was laid on behalf of the 310 Cadet Unit, National Network Travel and the AVVRG.
The area of the "I Was Only 19" mine incident.
Some of the caves require a short trek through the hills...
...but once there, they're worth the visit..
...many being really only the dirt excavated
from between huge boulders.
The boat ride gives the Tour a feel for riverine ops conducted by the Aussies in
the mangrove swamps. But don't worry - it's smooth sailing - and no one
shoots at us.
One sea-storm too many?
Statue of Ho Chi Minh in the entry foyer of the Dong Nai
Huge B-52 bomb craters still pock-mark a rubber plantation
near the site of Balmoral (remember, this crater
is now more than 40 years old). They still dwarf the sightseer and are still very
But then it was time
to say "goodbye"...
Photo: Bob (2010 tour)
Our thanks to:
Val Simpson of 310 Cadets for making the booking with us and to the Cadets and
Staff for their cameras and pictures, some of which are included here.
And as we get other
we'll add and acknowledge them too.
Finally, a big vote of
thanks (again!) to National Network Travel's
who some of
you have talked to but most haven't met:
"Thanks, Judi - it
wouldn't have happened without you!"
All the best...
Dave & Di Sabben
||LONG TAN TREK
Dave's first Long Tan Trek Cadet Tour departed Australia Sunday 1 December with
27 Army Cadets (ages ranging from the 14 to 19) and six officers/staff, all of
310 Cadet Unit, Dandenong, and
The Itinerary for the
2013 Cadet Tour (2
The 2013 310 Cadet Unit Tour flew Singapore Airlines to Singapore, where the Tour Group assembled. From there, a
short flight to Ho Chi Minh City (HCMC, but we'll call it 'Saigon').
We were met at the airport and booked in to the Hoang Ngan Hotel:
The first day took in a tour of Saigon including a group pic in front of
the Opera House:
followed by some of the best city buildings like...
...the Peoples Committee Hall, with a statue of Ho Chi Minh ("Bac Ho" [Uncle
Ho]) in front...
(more pics to come)
...the Notre Dame Cathedral... ...the Post Office... ...the Reunification Palace...
...the War Remnants Museum...
(more pics to come)
...and the city tour ended at the Ben Thanh markets...
The afternoon was free to shop and wander. That evening we had a set
menu "Welcome Dinner", introducing everyone to the Vietnamese style of group
dining (by fours) and 7 or 8 different dishes. This became the usual
style of lunches and dinners.
day, it was a bus north west from Saigon to the Cu Chi area - the area where
1RAR operated in 1965-66. It's now a place to see
and experience the tunnels, bunkers and booby traps used by the Viet Cong
(VC) and the North Vietnamese Army (NVA) during the Second Indo-China War
It was also the place we could fire the weapons of the era...
After lunch, we returned to Saigon and boarded the hydrofoil
for the 90-minute trip to Vung Tau...
...where we had a short "cyclo" ride to our hotel...
(more pics to come)
Dinner, and a few hours to explore Vung Tau town...
Back Beach (1ALSG)
Christ Statue Lighthouse
Small Mt Hydrofoil Terminal
Wednesday morning ("already...!") and we bussed north from Vung Tau up to the
Australian Task Force base at Nui Dat, where Dave explained the base layout
and the NVA's intentions for a huge
attack on the base set for the night of the 18th of August 1966....
(pics to come)
While at Nui Dat, we visited the local Kindy/pre-school which was founded
and is supported by Australian charities. We brought long-life milk
for them, since fresh milk is almost unknown in countryside Vietnam.
We also brought books, pencils etc.
(We made a drop of a similar amount of long-life milk to the Ba Ria orphanage the following morning...)
Then it was time to start our "Trek". The idea is that we walked the
5Km from Nui Dat to Long Tan, replicating the move of Delta Company, 6RAR,
from the base on 18 August 1966 to the Long Tan rubber plantation where,
that afternoon, they fought the Battle of Long Tan.
...the sort of country we covered, now mostly under cultivation, unlike in
...also unlike 1966, we had tracks & help when crossing the creeks &
..and our direct route was blocked by a new reservoir which we had to walk
around. That's Nui Dat 2 on the skyline, and the Long Tan rubber
plantation to its right...
Lunch for the troops in 1966 was a ration pack meal among the
trees. We couldn't replicate that, but we did the next best thing...
...after which it was time to walk the actual Long Tan battlefield. One of the first "surprises" of the battlefield is just how
spread out we were. Here, Dave put some of the Cadet Trekkers into an
Infantry Section 'arrowhead' formation, with at least one tree row between
men, often two tree rows. The result is that a 10-man Section could
cover 100 yards of 'front' - very dispersed!
As we moved through the battlefield, every 10 minutes, Dave called an
O-Group to give the status since the last briefing 10 minutes ago.
As usual, the comments were that it was the highlight of the whole Tour
- the Long Tan battlefield looks VERY similar to the way it looked in 1966. The walk was timed to be as long as the actual battle
took - some 3.5 hours. We walked to all the places where the D/6 soldiers experienced significant events during the battle -
the initial contact...
...the first and final Company positions, the left hook by
10 Platoon, the right hook by 12 Platoon, the place the Company took the
and, of course, the place of the heroic stand by 11 Platoon, which is where
the cross now stands:
* There's a larger-sized copy of this photo
At 600 and 1000 metres from the main battlefield, Dave
also pointed out the places where the APC reinforcement column with A/6 aboard contacted the enemy on their way towards D/6.
Very little of the topography has changed in 44 years,
tho' the slight rise that D/6 used for its final redoubt is now a slight
Then back to Vung Tau and the Hotel - and a little more
time to discover Vung Tau...
On the next day, Thu 5, we visited an AVVRG-supported
dental clinic at Long Tan to leave some gifts for distribution to the local
and drove straight on to the "Horseshoe" feature - an extinct volcano cone
which was used by the ANZACs as an Artillery Fire Support Base (FSB).
The Horseshoe was the northern end of the barrier minefield placed by the
ANZACs. We drove to a place where we could stand on what was
formerly the infamous minefield - now rice paddy...
...before venturing into the Light Green to the vicinity
of the mine incident on Operation Mundingburra (on day 3 - 21 July 1969) which gave rise to the song "I Was Only
A track through the close bush of the "Light Green" - so
named because the sand-coloured ground gave the area a lighter colour in air
photographs than the red-soil-based "Long Green".
Lunch was at the beachside "VC Retreat", currently
After this, it was a visit to the Minh Dam temple in the Long Hai's.
Most of the more venturous souls went to the caves,...
...and then to Ba Ria for a short boat ride to Cat Lo and back to the Hotel...
...for our last night in Vung Tau.
Next morning it was goodbye Vung Tau and onto the bus
again, this time for the long drive north through Ba Ria and on to Bien Hoa.
Along the way, we called in to the Dong Nai Museum to view the original
cross placed in the Long Tan rubber plantation by 6RAR, second tour, on 18
(pic of original cross, statue at entry...)
It was then to the FSB Coral site...
...and on to the site of the Battalion defended position
After Balmoral, it was a drive back to Saigon with a quick lunch along the
way before returning to the airport for our flight home.
The Tour was well accepted by those on it. We did
not ask the Cadets to pass comment on the Tour but several of the
officers/staff returned comments:
Can't thank you enough.
This is a trip in a million for a lot of cadets in the system.
Would like to work with you again in the future.....
Di and I would like to thank all the
folks who took the time
to contact Judi or us and pass great compliments on their
experience of the Tours. Thanks to All - Dave and Di
The 2013 Cadet
Tour for 310 Cadet Unit was planned with a strict budget
and time constraint in mind. Future Cadet or school group etc Tours
follow the 2013 itinerary but we would like to suggest some changes
if budget and time constraints are not so tight - an extra day in Vung Tau
is recommended and possibly an extra day in Saigon at the end of the Tour.
However, since each Tour is tailored for the group, staff will be consulted
and an appropriate Tour itinerary (time & budget) will be determined.
The "regular" Tours - the
Long Tan Trek and the
Battlefields Tour - have been planned for 2014 with very much the same content and
sequence as the 2012 and 2013 Tours. In the south, we've added an extra night
in Vung Tau giving a free day to revisit old haunts, and retained the Cu Chi
visit. And in the north, we include a two-night stay at Hoi An and
two nights in Ha Long Bay - BOTH World Heritage listed locations - AND have
added an extra night in Hanoi.
Please visit the
2014 Tours webpage:
VN Long Tan Trek Tour
to download a Flyer and/or an Itinerary.
(...keep going - there's