MEET a man with an enduring passion who has a big shed that houses a big tank.
For Maleny retiree Rod Keys, big is often better.
Mr Keys jokes that his wife has divorced him eight times over his fascination with collecting army gear.
The former grain and beef cattle farmer also remarks that his children are aghast at the prospect of having to deal with the extensive collection – including a fully restored and operational World War II General Grant tank – when he dies.
But both his wife and children know one thing: collecting is as much a part of his life as drawing breath.
Having been spared service during the Vietnam War, the 62-year-old jokes that he suffers from “lack of battle fatigue”.
His collecting over the past 30-plus years has not been done entirely for self-gratification, however – it is the Vietnam War conscript's “salute to the Anzacs”.
“I have a great respect for the guys who have to do the real work,” he said.
Mr Keys began collecting tanks and artillery while on his Meandarra farm in the state's Western Downs.
His first item was a Ferret armoured car, a British-made vehicle used for reconnaissance purposes from 1952.
Now more than 20 of his larger items are housed at the Meandarra Anzac Memorial Museum.
They include a General Grant tank, a Water Buffalo, an amphibious War World II tank, a White Scout car from the same war and a “very rare” 1908 Japanese Mountain gun.
Mr Keys moved to Maleny several years ago and brought with him the US-made General Grant tank, bought for a tidy sum from a West Australian museum.
He also has a Grant and a British-made Matilda tank that are not restored.
Both the Grant and Matilda were used extensively in North Africa during the war.
While Mr Keys' collection is now decidedly smaller, the lure of what awaits him in his big shed is still strong.
“I've always loved old stuff,” he said.
For more information about Mr Keys' collection, go to www.armygear.org.
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