It’s the tale of a 100-year-old machine gun, bureaucracy gone mad and a small community’s determination to fight the powers that be.
After a four-year battle, Piallamore has welcomed home its World War I German aircraft gun, which was taken from the community’s recreation reserve when someone from council noticed it.
The “inert piece of metal” was deemed a weapon that was not secure, despite being welded to the wall, and the group was forced to hand it in to Kootingal Police Station.
“The only way you could hurt someone with it is if you dropped it on your big toe,” long-time Piallamore local Fran Hutt said, chuckling.
Ironically, the gun had been sitting in a small covered area off the side of the school house – which is now the Piallamore Recreation Reserve – for more than 90 years, since 1922, after it was presented to the community by Major Stutchbury, a decorated WWI veteran and local landholder.
“People used to stop and walk in to have a look at it all the time, it was here for decades, and no one gave a rats,” Bob Hutt said.
Piallamore resident and recreational ground chairman Mark Stass said the group had been back and forth with the powers that be for years.
“We had a helluva job trying to convince them it was inert piece of metal, a relic,” he said.
“They wouldn’t listen to us and we’d just about given up on a couple of occasions, then we had another stab at it and finally at the end there, they came good.”
Now they finally have a permit to display the gun for “historical purposes”. But there are several strict conditions, such as not firing the “weapon”.
“It’s got no firing mechanism, no barrel and a bloody big bullet hole in one side of it, so that shouldn’t be a problem,” Mr Stass said.
Now that the Luftgehalt Maschinengewehr is finally home, it will take pride of place in the community rec hall, alongside its honour rolls.
“It is a subject of interest, maybe not today, but in 50 or 100 years time when little kids come around, they’ll think ‘oh is that what they used to use’,” Mr Stass said.