Giant tractor plan to pull tourists

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Retired farmer and tractor enthusiast Dick Garnett and Gnowangerup farmer Tim Beeck.
Camera IconRetired farmer and tractor enthusiast Dick Garnett and Gnowangerup farmer Tim Beeck. Credit: Cally Dupe

A big piece of WA’s farming history, the humble Chamberlain 40K, is to be immortalised as a giant 10m-high statue in the middle of Gnowangerup.

It is hoped the towering piece of engineering — the biggest replica tractor in the world, five times the size of the machine itself — will be completed within two years.

Trachmach, which holds vintage machinery celebrations across WA, and its founder Bob Lukins, put a call-out last year for towns to take on their giant concept plans.

A Chamberlain Tractor 40K, serial number 33.
Camera IconA Chamberlain Tractor 40K, serial number 33. Credit: Cally Dupe

Gnowangerup farmer Tim Beeck said members of the town’s local co-operative, GNP360, bid for the statue and formed a sub-committee to manage the project.

“The whole community is aboard and it will just be fantastic for our town,” he said.

“We are just looking for the best possible location ... we don’t want people to stop and take a photo and drive off, we want them to spend time in town.”

The giant statue, announced just weeks after it was revealed Ravensthorpe would become home to a big lollipop in August, will be about 3m taller and 2m longer than Wagin’s Giant Ram, and is expected to stand 17m long, 10.2m wide and 10m high.

“This was Trachmach’s dream ... and we picked it up and ran with it,” Mr Beeck said.

Retired farmer and tractor enthusiast Dick Garnett and Gnowangerup farmer Tim Beeck.
Camera IconRetired farmer and tractor enthusiast Dick Garnett and Gnowangerup farmer Tim Beeck. Credit: Cally Dupe

With a population of 800 in town and 1500 within the Shire of Gnowangerup as a whole, locals like Mr Beeck hope the giant tractor will attract tourists.

The sub-committee has set its sights on developing the concept plans with Trachmach, raising funds, and selecting a location within the Gnowangerup town centre.

The Chamberlain 40K was the first model tractor to roll off the production line at the Chamberlain Industries’ factory in Welshpool, which opened 70 years ago this month.

Retired farmer and Gnowangerup-based Trachmach member Dick Garnett was just 10 when the first 11 Chamberlain tractors were released in 1949.

He remembers farmers driving the tractors from the Welshpool factory to their properties, even as far as Geraldton.

“Chamberlain tractors put in a lot of work in this country, clearing land and helping farmers grow their crops,” he said.

An avid tractor enthusiast, Mr Garnett has driven a Chamberlain tractor around Australia twice, in 2007 and 2017, and drove the same machine from Baltimore in Maryland and drove it 7000km to Los Angeles, after shipping it to America from Fremantle.

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