GREAT SOUTHERN ROAD DVD
Narrated by Logi winning Russell Goodrick
It all starts in 1883 with John EYRE who transported telegraph poles for telegraph lines to pastoral stations. Travel across the southern roads then where hell trips, mostly by foot, and one horse power. The Nullarbor from the latin "nulla" for no, and "arbor" for tree . ..to EYRE meant bad dreams. From Norseman to Port Augusta, 1,675 kilometres was “A long time to live in your head” he once said.On one EYRE expedition seeking stock routes, with friend Baxter and the three aborigine guides, tensions rose to high, and Baxter was killed by two of the aborigines who ran off. Eyre and his aboriginal friend Wylie were the only one's left to continue the journey to ALBANY Western Australia . Such was life without a car.
The NULLABOR is the longest straight stretch of road in the world, 146.6 km. The Eucla telegraph station was erected in 1887 the population went from 8 people to 100 by 1927 when sand drifts, finally took over the town. It was with the assistance of the Eucla telegraph station that the confidence to venture out further into AUSTRALIAS isolation was kept alive by our famous expedition people like BURKE and WILLS. They bravely but unfortunately went too far north and agonisingly perished in starvation.
One of our craziest cyclists BIRTLES, road the country on his bike,
he was known well for his bush skills and ability to befriend the Aborigines. He was asked to ride shotgun and assist SID FERGUSON in the attempt to be the first to drive West to East from PERTH to SYDNEY for the BRUSH Canadian motor Co. This was an obvious attempt to equal that first TALBOT car run from Adelaide to Darwin in1910 where Henry Hampden Dutton was to be the first to cross Australia from south to north by motorcar. As a result the little British TALBOTS, were setting startling speed records all over the country. The car crazy country had found its legs… wheels.
Over a decade had past and in 1925 the craziest of all attempts by the Neville Westwood. He set of to drive right round AUSTRALIA in a tiny Citrone, looking like Noddy's car, the same colour even. He made history and became the first person to continuously circumnavigate Australia by motor car. Just when you thought that was the best your going to see an attractive Marion Bell hits the road what road?.... and out does Dutton, drives right the way round gob smacking the entire Nation. and brings the worlds attention to Australia .
Gone now are the Cobb &Co horses, 6000 of them with the 45000 km they ran every week for the past seventy years since 1853, many importations of cars from all parts of the world, have sent the Camels free to roam the deserts. And for some reason the Saggie and the Sundowner, the latter getting there title as they turned up at sunset for meals knowing the work was over for the day, from those depression years of 1920 to 1930s they too have gone.
It wasn't for another decade till a crazy motorist would attempt a round Australia torture trip, like those before. The only car company brave enough to give Hatfield the writer / photographer a car was the British firm Rootes. They sent him out a 1932 Hillman MINX in exchange for mapping Highway One, the one that didn't exist then. The information would also be used to build a suitable car for all British Colonial outposts, Australia being on their list but others where thinking the same. The T FORD had gained a lot of popularity.
After the dust settled from wars in Europe , a new kind of dust was rising in the Australian outback, a REDEX kind George Sheppard later director of GMH, was planning car trials. With Hatfield's notes in hand and those trials brought enormous interest in Australia and all the stories of kangaroos hopping through the main streets of it's cities. Most of these came from a single source, one of our mad car lovers JACK Murray, known then as Gelignite Jack.
The Hillman Humber ROOTES firm waisted no time setting up shop right next door to our man HOLDEN who even made some bodies for there Hillmans. However when he saw the all Australian workforce, driving out hundreds of shinny black cars he ran to the GOVERNMENT for support for his dream, our own car. With the help of GMH too he got it, the rest of that story is history as they have said.
IT seems it took a decade to make bench mark leaps. Then in 1968, when life just turned upside down, talking of going to the moon, the hippy movement those swaggie back with cars, now living in them. GLOBAL craziness, now talk of a car race of factory built cars to race across the world, the LONDON TO SYDNEY MARRATHON was bourn, amidst a few wars still burning on route. One that would follow Fergusons ghost tracks.
Our previous invader Japan watched this event unfold more carefully than others, they saw the evidence of the 4 cylinder victory in the NEW Hillman's Minx model outright win. In fact one of their own purchases from ENGLAND the Isusu was an outright MINX with design connections with those first TALBOTS.
Now time was serving notice on the big 6 cylinder cars. To make matters worse it was no time now in 1974 to be herbing around in a gas gussling beasty, when petrol prices keep rising because of continual Middle East skirmishes involving oil.
By the mid 1970's ROOTES cars were gone out of Austrailia, the Great Southern Roads' factory taken by Chrysler. They ran to Mitsubishi for a small car deal when they had the Hillman and let it go. The one who helped push the Hillman out of AUSTRALIA brought it back as theirs with a new skin called ISUSU, Japan 's old Minx with new clothes.
The old AUSTIN cars came back as DATSUNS looking like the square Hillman and Cortina moulds, from the LONDON SYDNEY MARRATHON days,. FORD ran with MAZDA and the new war was over. It didn't matter what any GOVERNMENT would introduce, the JAPENESE cars would keep coming, Australian's growing in numbers needed a car in this big country.
Our Great Southern Road is still the challenge it was even for our modern cars, but it's nothing as those early years, presented. Its still wise to carry extra water and supplies and what with the new electric cars, who will take one of those across the GREAT SOUTHERN ROAD.
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