Castlemaine collector’s items to take centre stage 

THE MELBOURNE opening of the Chitty Chitty Bang Bang production couldn’t come soon enough for Castlemaine collector Kent Bates.

Mr Bates’ obsession with collecting paraphernalia of the book, film and stage show started 44 years ago, and he said he has waited just as long to see it live in Victoria.

Parts of his collection of rare Chitty Chitty Bang Bang memorabilia will be used in the foyer of Her Majesty’s Theatre in Melbourne this weekend.

“I’m really excited, I love the production,” he said. “I could see it time and time again. It’s just great to have it in my home state.”

Before the national debut of the show in Sydney, Mr Bates met members of the cast on the red carpet and had a couple of his own items, including a model flying car, displayed at the theatre.

His collection – with more than 2000 items relating to the film and stage show – is the biggest in the southern hemisphere and believed to be the third biggest in the world.

Organisers of the stage show got in touch with Mr Bates to express their interest in showcasing some of his collection in the theatre’s foyer during the Australian leg of shows.

Mr Bates said it was a haul that was “forever growing”.

“It’s not developing as much as it used to be but occasionally there’s something that crops up and you just have to get it,” he said. The next stage of the collection was to use recently registered ‘Gen 11’ licence plates on his own model replica car.

“That’s the ultimate dream. Something that I’ll work on in retirement,” he said. 

Chitty Chitty Bang Bang opens at Her Majesty’s Theatre tonight, and Mr Bates will have his paraphernalia on display at Saturday night’s performance.

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