Tuesday, September 4, 2018

Crossing the Nulabor

CROSSING THE NULLABOR

1960
The very first time I crossed the Nullahbor was with my Step Father Jim we called him Pop my Mother and five kids, I was 9 years old, Pop bought a second hand 1939 Vauxhal in Adelaide, it had running boards on the side and Pop fixed this rail, (concertina gate) onto the running boards, and we couldn’t open the doors and had to climb out the windows, as cases were stacked between them and the doors, there was also a roof rack packed with cases and gear, we were two weeks on the road, imagine five kids and luggage crammed into a small car.I don't remember the whole trip, apart from a few memory's about particular events. Eucla was one of them, it was when Eucla was down on the breakaway closer to the coast, now it has been relocated up on top of the breakaways, Eucla was the original telephone base from the early explorers, the sand dunes were like silk, pop took us to the waters edge through the dunes, i lost site of him and thought i was lost, we slept in a big Hall, and the sand was right up to the wall of this hall, i remember hearing someone say it would be covered with sand in a very short time, it was also suppose to be haunted.also another memorable place was the Nullahbor Homestead, we could see this home and sheds in the distance, as we must have needed fuel being such a long way from any town , gas stations were not heard of on the Nullahbor, fuel came in 44 gallon drums, we drove into the homestead and they made us very welcome invited us inside ,we all sat around the large table and ate a hearty meal, i believe times have changed, what you will see on gates today is a sign Keep Out, private property. since this crossing i have driven overland nine times.

My first experience of driving overland was the most difficult and tense, I had a mate with me, Barry Taylor we both lived in Medina WA we met at the front of a local shop after it had closed for the day,  Barry was the sort of young bloke who could make friends with the young kids and those about our age in Medina, he was a bit of a leader full of confidence, I had a FJ Holden at this time, I decided to go east and somehow Barry decided to go with me and share expenses, we planned to work our way around the Eastern States, firststopping off in Adelaide and later going on to Melbourne, then on to Sydney, before we left he asked me if another mate of his Sidney Kaporn could come with us, so it looked like being a exciting trip, and it was a real experience. after leaving Norseman a sign post said this is the last reliable water supply for 600 miles, The road from Norseman to Port Augusta was unsealed and it was a hell road full of potholes, bull-dust and corrugation’s, Wombats and kangaroos were dead on the side of the road and  hundreds of rabbits crossing our path. The trip was very tens for me as it was my car, and I felt when Barry or Syd were driving they didn’t avoid the potholes and couldn’t drive as well or take the same care as I did. My Brother Laurie was in Adelaide when we arrived, he found us a place to stay two rooms in an old boarding house, Barry tossed a coin, heads or tails to choose in what room we would sleep, and i scored a single room, this was the finish of our adventure, i believe it was meant to be this way, a good reason, Sid and Barry decided to go on to Melbourne the next day, this wasn’t our plan as we were going to work in Adelaide first then decide where we would go at a later date, I lost touch with Barry but caught up with him at a later date, he was living with his Uncle, I was shearing around Geelong so I  looked him up one week end, he said Syd didn’t stay very long and went back to Perth, soon after arriving in Melbourne, Later I was pleased I had split with Barry as I realized it was better to travel alone, you don’t have to answer to other people or plan your life around there needs, I also decided to go back Shearing,                   

Every time I drove across the Nullahbore was a unique experience, nine times in all, this particular trip in my F.J. Holden my pride and joy. The Nullahbor had several gates, and they had to be opened and closed so as to stop the livestock from going through, one of the gates I stopped to open, and at the same time another vehicle stopped on the other side I was driving East and he was driving West, the other driver wasn’t getting out to open the gate so I decided it was going to be me, on opening the gate the other driver with ACT plates drove through, as he did he said to me, I’m from Canberra, I thought to my self and you can get stuffed mate you cheeky prick.
Another one of these trip’s my Brother Laurie and his wife were with me, I was driving my E.J. Holden station wagon, and we broke a u-bolt on the back spring, a truck pulled up to see if he could lend us a hand, and he offered us a toe to Norseman we were about 100 miles East, the holden was an automatic so I had to take the tail shaft off, and we only had a short length of rope about 8 foot long, the road was unsealed and red dirt, you can imagine being toed so close to the back of the truck at about 40 miles an hour, the red bull-dust being  thrown up onto my car it was so thick, I couldn’t see more than a few feet, and I could just see the back of the truck, My eyes were fixed on the back of the truck, it was so tense and I had to brake instantly when his stop lights came on, as he braked in front of me, the road was full of potholes, my arms were tired and I couldn’t move my body I was stuffed, my brother and me decided he should give me a break and take over but we were still being toed, some  how we changed seats and Laurie took over the driving,

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