Viet Nam Tours -
The Long Tan Trek Cadet Tour Report - Dec 2013
This page records the December 2013 Long Tan Trek Tour.
by cadets and officers/staff of 310 Cadet Unit, Dandenong.
(Last updated 30 December 2013)

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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 battle occurred.











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 Museum









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 impressive!



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
photos we'll add and acknowledge them too.

Finally, a big vote of thanks (again!) to National Network Travel's
Judi Gifford,
 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 CADET TOUR 2013  --------------

Di and 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 three others.

   The Itinerary for the       
    2013 Cadet Tour
(2 pages)


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.

Next 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 (1962-1972).

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...
(more pix)
  Back Beach (1ALSG)                                      Christ Statue      Lighthouse    Small Mt        Hydrofoil Terminal     Front Beach
               *                                                                           *                      *                    *                           *                          *

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.
(more pix)
 (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 1966...
(more pix)
...also unlike 1966, we had tracks & help when crossing the creeks & irrigation ditches.

..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 ammo resupply...

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 below. *

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 depression.

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 people...
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 19".
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 undergoing refurbishment...

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 August 1969...

(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 Balmoral...

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.....

Val Simpson (Capt., AAC)


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 may
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 Decisive 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 2014.html
to download a Flyer and/or an Itinerary.

(...keep going - there's more below...)


***   The 310 Cadet Group Photo taken at the Opera House, Saigon, 2 Dec, 2013...   ***


***   The 310 Cadet Group Photo taken at the Reunification Palace, Saigon, 2 Dec, 2013...   ***


***   The Group Photo taken at the Long Tan Cross, 4 Dec, 2013...   ***


----- =====THE OUT-TAKES ===== -----



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