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Operation Fast buck

Operation Fastbuck

Posted in Aussiecoins Forum
Jan 2006

preserving for prosperity etc etc

In mid-1965 as a Commonwealth Car Driver, I was selected with 2 others from the Victorian car pool to take part in the delivery of the Decimal coinage in Victoria.
There were 3 groups formed to transport the coins within the State by road convoy. Each group consisted of the following personnel, 2 Commonwealth Heavy Transport Drivers, 1 Commonwealth Car Driver, 3 Commonwealth Police Officers & 2 Bank Officers as leaders of the group. About 6 trips were undertaken by each group between November 1965 & February 1966, each trip lasting 4 or 5 days duration.
3 vehicles were used by each group. A Semi-Trailer (carrying locked containers,) An armoured Delivery Van (used by the Bank Officers for the actual deliveries) & a Car (whose task was to provide Federal Police escort for the Semi). Local police provided security for the vehicles during overnight stops at designated locations.
On the completion of the exercise the Reserve Bank provided a small function at the then Reserve Bank Offices in Collins St. Melbourne, where each participant was presented with a personally inscribed Wallet, containing one of each denomination of the new coinage.
I understand that a similar presentation took part in all States with a total of 70 Wallets presented Australia wide. Very few of these wallets have been disposed of through Coin Dealers, & I understand that there are collectors out there who would require these items to complete a Decimal Currency collection.
As I am not a collector & would consider selling my wallet could anyone please give me their opinion of a present day value, and how would I go about selling the item. I believe the last sale occurred in 1988 for approx $700.00.

I would also be interested in any other known information about "Operation Fastbuck"

Charlie was kind enough to provide some interesting anecdotes about Operation Fastbuck and they are reproduced in their entirety here.

There are several "Incidents" that occurred during the trips that I did during the Coinage delivery.
Prior to the start of the actual deliveries the first "job" that I was given was to provide transport for a Federal Police Officer, whose task was to provide "cover" for a shipment of coins that arrived from the UK. The ship had docked at Melbourne's South Wharf with several hundred sealed timber boxes that had to be transferred to a Semi-Trailer for transport to a secure Deer Park Government facility. There was a lengthy demarcation dispute with the Melbourne "Wharfies" as to who would actually off-load the boxes. The Govt. provided a team of men to do the job, but the Wharfies refused to allow them to touch the cargo, or board the ship, under threat of shutting down the Port. After about 3 hour's negotiation, it was decided to allow the "Wharfies" to conduct the transfer to the Semi which had parked about 10 metres from the gangplank. Commonwealth Police stood shoulder to shoulder lining the path to the truck. Even then, at the completion of the transfer it was discovered that one box was not accounted for. A lengthy frantic search of the ship uncovered the missing box at the bow of the ship, under a pile of ropes The "Wharfies" that had lined the side of the ship, broke into laughter & cheers as the box was placed on the truck. It was all a setup.

Due to these delays, it was 5.00pm as we started the journey to Deer Park. The Semi-Trailer with boxes covered with tarpaulins followed by my Falcon Station Wagon with a red-haired Police Officer with a strong English accent, with a loaded Owen Machine Gun on the floor of the Car. It had started to rain heavily, & as we proceeded through the City area slowed by peak traffic, a young lad about 16, riding a Bicycle, hitched a ride by holding onto the rear of the Semi. The Police Officer wound down the window & called to the young man to move away from the Semi. The lad looked back & gave the plain-clothes Policeman a cheeky grin, a finger in the air, & continued his free ride. The Policeman was now quite agitated, as he thought that if the lad was to accidentally go under the wheels of the truck, we would be there all night. He asked me to close the gap between the 2 vehicles, & as I complied, he raised the Owen Gun to the open window & again yelled to the boy to get away from the truck. On seeing the gun the young man took off like a shot up the road. I wonder if that lad remembers the incident to this day, & believes he may have been involved in some "gangster" shoot-out.

On another occasion, with that same Police Officer, escorting a delivery in Warragul, the truck was required to go down a narrow lane behind the shops in the main St. We were only moving slowly & a tray truck came out from the back of one of the shops between our 2 vehicles. The Officer insisted that I pass the other vehicle & get back behind the truck. This I managed in the narrow lane, but not without taking both door handles on the passenger side off on the tray of the truck. I had a devil of a job explaining that to my superiors.

On another occasion we arrived at a small country town north of Ballarat about 7.00pm where we were to spend the night, we could not find the local State Policeman, whose task it was to stand guard over the Semi overnight. The local publican believed he was at a 21st birthday party being held in a local house. The senior Bank Officer contacted the home by telephone & spoke to the Policeman who refused to come to the station as he was "Under the Weather" & did not know of the arrangements. The Bank Officer then called an emergency contact number & 20 minutes later four Police Cars, sirens blaring, arrived from Ballarat to take up guard duty. I think the Local Copper is still standing to attention.

At another overnight stop the local police wanted our driver to park the truck in the grounds of the local church next door to the station so they could conduct their surveillance from their office. It had been raining heavily & our driver judged that while he could get the truck to where it was wanted, with the slippery grass, he would not be able to get it out without the trailer sliding into a large cyclone fence dividing the two properties. The Police insisted that he could get out in the morning without hitting the fence. We did get out the following morning but not before we took 50 metres of Cyclone fence down, & leaving some very red-face policemen to sort out the problem with the local Vicar.

Photo supplied by Charlie Browne