Friday 13th April 1951
Our big adventure is taking shape. Jack left work today and we went shopping. Our biggest thrill was buying Jack’s camera. A Russian reflex type. It seemed a good job and a bargain at ₤12.10. We also bought mosquito nets and fly veils, water bottles, etc. Jack’s main delight seemed to be in his shoes, crepe rubber soles with a suede upper. I wonder how they’ll look when the trip is over.
Sat 14th April
I spend the day interviewing perspective buyers for the old “Blue Bird”. Jack has his “Ponti” up for sale too. In between times I burn off and paint window frames. I collected my pack from the shoe-makers where it is being stitched. I feel quite proud of it. It has cost me 30 shillings as against ₤7 for a steel frame job. My shoes were not ready because the stitching machine broke down so instead of leaving on Monday we shall have to leave Tuesday now. I dressed up tonight with all my gear for a dress rehearsal. It looks like my shoulders are going to be sore for a start. Roll along Tuesday.
Sunday 15th April
A very quiet day. A few calls for our cars. Did a few odd jobs. Jack’s car developed a knock and he has to pull it down and renew a gudgeon pin.
Monday 16th April
Jack and I did some more shopping. I collected my shoes from bootmakers. I took my truck up to buyers place, but he said he missed the bank, so I drive it up to Norm’s at night and put it in his yard. Jack collects his first lot of films from his new camera. They are OK. I wonder where we will be sleeping tomorrow night?
Tuesday 17th April
Jack and I kick off. We hitch to Laverton and call in on Doreen for “Brunch” (via Plymouth) then by Holden to Geelong. Met John Stock. We get lift with Ray and Mac on “Super” Truck (an Austin) via Lismore, Mortlake, Hamilton where we slept in a shelter shed. Passed Lake Corangamite. Had lunch in Geelong on baked rabbit. Bought Salami for reserve food. We have a wonderful “pub crawl” all the way.
Wednesday 18th April
Left Hamilton State School and hitched to Coleraine in Humber Snipe (Super). Walked back through town and did a further two miles to McKenry’s. Nice people. We go rabbit hunting in afternoon with Mr and Mrs, “Cheetah” and “Dash” and get 26. Collected sheep on sledge. Jim slaughters it and Jack and I take photos. Jim digs the rabbits out of holes. The country from Hamilton to Coleraine is studded with redgums and attractive in comparison with the country from Geelong to Hamilton.
Thursday 19th April
We arose late after the kids (Henry & Mary) had gone to work. I slept in lounge on air mattress. Jack and I went for a walk to haystack and got out a few bales for the cattle. Then we took dogs out after the bunnies. They got four and Jack had a shot 2 mountain ducks. Helped Jim with separating and fed pigs. Mrs McKenry did our washing (much appreciated). We took a photo of a tree blasted by lightning. Played quoits at night and lost. Jack and I had to send for a ticket in Tatts as forfeit.
Lounged around in the morning then Jim and the Mrs took us to Casterton in their Austin. We had a look around the town and a few beers and then they took us to the top of the hill out of town, where as we were un-loading Jack “hitched” a Jaguar to Mount Gambier at 60 mph. We bought some fish and chips which we ate in a ware-house, then Jack (the super hitcher) got us a lift up the hill to the camping ground where we paid 2/6 to pitch our tent but slept in the Ranger’s tent (without consent) after a trip to Odeon Theatre where we saw “Ticket to Tomahawk” and “Tarnished”. We had supper of sauce and pie. So far we have seen The Blue Lake, Gordon’s Leap and the pumping plant for the town’s water supply.
Had our first home-cooked “gorge” in community kitchen. Then we took a walk to lookout and viewed Browne’s Lake and Valley Lake through telescope, also Port MacDonell and surf (16 mile away). We also saw the cairn marking the site of the first settler’s hut, built by Henty in 1841. We came back by the Devil’s Punch Bowl, Jack’s hat came off and blew half way down the crater. After a meal in which we finished the remnants of Mrs McKenry’s rabbits, we hitched by Rugby and another vehicle to Port MacDonell. We then walked to Dingley Dell turn-off and hitched to cottage where A/L/ Gordon lived. We then hitched a V8 who took us to Bubbling Springs and then to My Gambier township where we had a feed of fish and chips and then home to buy some produce for Sunday and sit by a big log fire in the community kitchen. We couldn’t get our usual bunks in the Ranger’s tents because some local couples were parking in them, so we had to sleep in our own little tent.
Arose 8.15 left about 11.30 and walked out of town, got a lift to velodrome with kid in old Chev, then in new Vaux to Penola, also picked up by father in old jalopy. We passed an immense pine plantation and saw worker’s homes built almost entirely of pine. We had lunch of pine-apple juice and ½ an apple under the pub veranda while the rain was on. Things looked grim and then John (Hippo Joe) picked us up in his 32 ton diesel. He was carrying an 18 ton tank. We rode at his capacity speed of 27 mph to Bordertown. The country between Penola and B.Town was rolling type and gum-trees. Later on it became scrubby and bush-fires had destroyed most of the country. People were gathering mushrooms in fields along the road. It was late when we arrived and no cafes were open, so after being refused a meal at the hotel we scouted around and finally settled in the grandstand at the show-grounds where we opened and devoured a tin of steak and veg by moonlight. Mosquitoes were around but we managed ten hrs sleep.
We went over to the pub and scored a very frugal meal at 4/6. Then we walked out of town and picked up by two “Beery Boffs” in a Hudson. Then the sheep agent in a Holden, then the Boffs again to Tailem Bend where we had 3 drinks and a first class feed in a small café. Once again we walked out of town and were picked up by John and his diesel (by showing a leg). We got our first views of the Murray. The trip we had just come was across scrub and gibber country of a very low type. John let us ride in the tank which was his load and we thoroughly enjoyed the ride up through the Mt Lofty Ranges. At the peak the view was most beautiful with the setting sun blending with the see and the delicate blue tones of the wooded country, making a most pleasing sight. John let us off about 3 miles out of town after telling us of a good hamburger “joint” where we had steaks, eggs with lovely coffee for only 3/3. Then we caught a tram to Henley Beach where we slept out under the stars. I’d lost the cork from my lilo pillow and spent a cold un-comfortable night.
We arose in the morning to find that we had camped in front of a women’s hospital and they were all viewing us from the window. Going in search of breakfast all I could find was milk, so we had a breakfast of milk, salami and wham with sugared bread. We shaved on a street corner that had a tap there, also we had an earbash session with an old chap who had been on the Continent. We trammed into town and went to the tourist bureau and Shell office where we collected maps of the NT and Adelaide. From there we had a beautiful view of the city, being on the 9th floor. The morning was spent in the art gallery and museums and then to Coles where we had a scrumptious feed. We wandered around the city and a few parks and ended up in a news reel theatre, where we saw movies of the Barossa Wine Festival and two day mardi gras in the grape centre of Nurioopta. We collected our gear from a shoe shop and tried five hotels for board, then in desperation, we went to Enid’s address where we talked of the Continent until 10.30 and then “dossed” on the back verandah, for which we were grateful as the rain was spitting.
In the morning we washed our socks, wrote up diaries and letters and had a general spruce up. Mrs H gave us a tin of powdered milk.
Anzac Day Wed 25th
We trammed out of town in drizzly weather, bought a few provisions and then got a fast lift in an Austin “Ute” to Kulpara where waited in the drizzle (after a good feed in the local football hut) for a lift through Butte (sic) to the main highway. Eventually we had to backtrack to Port Wakefield where after a feed of pies and tea we went to sleep in the picnic hut by the swimming pool.
After a good but windy night’s rest we walked to the main highway where we hitched a ride to Port Augusta from a D.W & H truck going through to Woomera. At first the country was undulating with soft blue-greys & browns but then it became desert like with scrub and stones and very parched. Toward the end of the run (we by-passed Port Pirie) the Flinders Ranges ran parallel with our route, while the main water-line about 2ft in diameter followed through from Port Pirie to Port Augusta. On walking through the town (a slightly tough joint) we passed about a dozen aboriginals lined up on either side of the footpath. One was a big man, well dressed with a 10 gallon hat on his head. We eventually found the Port Augusta café and had a mixed grill feed. On the run through we passed plenty of flocks of Galahs and in one group hundreds of white Cockatoos. We rang the Wirrulla Exchange (4/4) to see if Ralph was home and we sent a telegram home. Then we walked out of town over a long bridge where we waited 1½ hrs for a hitch. Things didn’t look so good so we walked back into town and enquired about the train to Alice Springs. We found that it had left at 4 o’clock that day. We were 2 hours too late. The next train was the same time next week. Ho Hum. Nothing to do now but go to Ralph’s at Wirrulla as we had originally planned. We had a feed of fish and chips and walked out of town again to an old saw-mill where we bedded down for the night. It rained like hell but we were under cover. During the night a mouse tried to raid our tucker but I got up out of bed and made it mouse proof.
Friday 27th April
The sun is shining, we have had a good breakfast and are now sitting by the road waiting for a lift to Whyalla, and here it is, a newspaper truck. The country en-route is red-soil & salt-bush, rather attractive with the fleecy clouds & colour tonings. The pipe-line follows the road through to Whyalla and we pass over a few cattle grating set in the road. We also see a dead kangaroo which has apparently been knocked by a car and we ourselves knock a sheep and send it flying off the road. We are on a tight schedule and cant stop but the sheep looks to be badly hurt. Whyalla is a model town, well laid out and prosperous looking. We stop to buy some steak at 1/10 a lb, which we later “cooked” over an open fire after waiting all morning for a lift to Wirrulla. A trifle disconcerted at no “lifts” and the prospect of a week’s wait for our train for the “Alice” we decide to try for a job at the Whyalla works of the BHP. We get taken on and report for work on the Monday morning. In the mean-time we get a room each with desk, chair and low-boy and indirect 2-way lighting and free towels. We went to evening mess and had a good 3 course feed and came back later in the night for a cup of tea. Apparently you can back up as often as you like for a return. We have also had a hot shower and a change of clothes. Oh Boy! What luxury! At night we went over to the Canteen and had cocoa and cheese and onion sandwiches, we bought a pack of cards and played euchre. (I won).
Saturday 28th April
A lovely sunny day. We went into town on foot and tried to vote as an absentee voter but one has to be in his own State. We walked to the sea-shore and climbed a hill from which we took photos of Whyalla township and ship-yards. I bought a pullover and we both bought table-tennis bats to use at night on the “Companys” tables. A rather funny sight was a dog with BHP stamped on his back. In the afternoon we payed 2/- to see North play South Whyalla at football. At night we went to the open-air theatre and saw “The Wooden Horse” and “The Ghost goes Wild”. We had 2 “Maltos” at 11d each.
Sunday 29th April
We sun-baked after breakfast and then walked about two miles to a model dairy financed by BHP. We had a look over the place and saw what irrigation can do. Orange & lemon groves and lovely green pastures. We took photos of different machines and the shed where 100 cows are milked twice a day extracting 280 gallons. We walked and hitched back and in the afternoon played table-tennis and at night, euchre, which I won. Then on to prepare for work in the morning.
Monday 30th April
Jack and I start work in the “Plate & Bar” workshop. We are both on presses, mine is a 600 ton job. I am working on 15”x4” H iron about 40 ft long. We “joggle” the iron by pressing indentations on marked places. Charlie is the boss. He is a boiler-maker, old Jim works the crane and “Coxie” works the hydro pressure levers. At night I played table tennis & euchre.
Tuesday 1st May
More “joggling”. Jack and I sit on waterfront for lunch & buy milk to eat with our cribs. Today Jack and I gave “notice”. The foreman asked me if I just joined the company to see the new ship launched.
Wednesday 2nd May.
Started work but maintenance crew came along to fix valve. Spent rest of morning on the broom, we are cleaning the place up for the launching on Monday. In the afternoon we painted white lines around the working areas so that the shareholders shan’t stub their toes & go ass over head. I took an unofficial visit down to a shed stacked with millions of feet of 12x12 Jarrah. The Gulf ship “Moonta” arrived on its weekly trip with 2 bus loads of people on board. Whilst having lunch we saw some of “the boys” catching fish, including a leather-jacket and a squid. We saw a giant machine banding 5/8 plate 20 ft long.
Thursday 3rd May.
More broom work until late afternoon when our press was finally fixed but not quite to Charlie’s satisfaction. Jack took some photos around the shipyard. After work we walked into town and collected our negatives. We also had a pint of beer each and then walked back. We had late tea and then Brian, Gus, Jack & I had a yarn in Jack’s room. I had a shower and did my washing whilst the boys played table tennis. PS. Alice Springs train left at 4pm.
Friday 4th May
Dor’s birthday. Payday ₤3.17.7. We get BHP Review. More joggling. After work, Jack, Brian & I played 500. Gus came along later and we eat his sandwiches. We saw “Commo Joe” get chucked out on his ear. Gunner asks me to do him a “favour”. I keep my head on the right side of the fly-wire & keep it on my shoulders.
Saturday 5th May.
Late breakfast. I gave Jack his in bed. We get our hair cut for 1/- from “Jumbo” & we go into town (aux pied). We have a “Malto” (11d) dropped some films and bought some spools at the old price of 2/1 and had a pint each. We played table-tennis in the afternoon. At night we teamed up with Gus and his Czech friends to get “umbriaco”. Jack is sick. We all go to the dance by taxi. Jack and I come home early (more taxi money)
Sunday 6th May
“Gunner” looked like he meant business this morning. I get out fast. He was still very drunk this morning. Jack and I went for a walk to the quarries and the golf course. The “greens” are ashes. Water is 2/6 1000 gallons so no greens. Quiet day. Watched (illegible) game.
Monday 7th May
More joggling. We watched launching at evening. Jack took photos of the 6000 ton Baroota going down the slips (she floated). Letter from mum. Played cards at night with Brian and “ten of diamonds” Jack & Brian (freddy) won. I had a glass of Muscat and was a trifle “umbriaco”. Freddy shouted sandwiches (Great Wonders!!!)
Tuesday 8th May
Jack and I have our last day working for the Company. Collect our pay of ₤4.15.6. We walked into town and met “Commo Joe” (liar) on the way. We collected negatives and had a “Malto”. Came home and played table-tennis.
Said goodbye to Gus and the boys and walked out to the bridge past the quarters. After about an hour’s wait we finally caught a truck (Karavos Bros) to Port Augusta. We had a nice meal at the Swan Café & left our baggage there. We took a walk to the local oval and had a lunch (supplied by BHP). We decided it would be a good place to sleep so we killed time by looking at the bowls and walking around the town until dark. Tea at the Swan and a visit to the pictures to see “The Gunfighter” & “The Babe Ruth Story”.
We were awakened in the morning by workmen arriving. We had breakfast and packed and then walked down to the wharves, where we saw a collier (The “Age”) being unloaded by winches. We had a sun-bake on the wharf, lunch at the Swan (very nice coffee) did some shopping, a shirt, 6 bottles of beer and some groceries. We ambled back, re-packed and walked to the station where we bought our tickets (₤7.4.9) with meals and then onto the train. We met Peter who was going to Maree to shoot roos. The train chuffed through the Flinders Ranges very desolate country studded with gum trees, but very nice in colour tonings when viewed from a distance. We played euchre until Quorn when we had tea in the dining car. Our train scheduled to leave Port Augusta at 4 o’clock, left Quorn at 8.20. 4 hours, 20 minutes for 25 miles. I “slept” on my lilo, a very rough night.
Next day on the observation platform we met Audrey, who introduced us to “Dig & Val” three girls who are hitchhiking around the world. (New Zealanders). We had a small party at night which was interrupted by three head of cattle straying on the line and we had to destroy two. Jack and I tried pee rifle bullets with limited success. A chap finished them off with a knife.
We had a chaser at Finke of one beer and snapped some “abos”. The only game we have seen so far is a few emus, a few roos and horses that may have been brumbies. The country-side is desert and salt-bush with occasional trees in what are water-courses in wet times.
Sunday 13th (Mother’s Day)
The “family” walked into town. We climbed to the top of the hill overlooking the “Alice” and which the war memorial is situated. Jack found a water bottle. We walked around the town, very interested in a shop with revolvers and shirts with steers on. We came home boiled the billy & had tea “al fresco”. Then the girls had a big boil-up and washed all our clothes, including their own. Then we all set off to climb an adjacent bluff (having had no dinner). Ken made the ascension, the others fell by the way-side. We startled quite a few roos and Jack shot a rabbit. After tea we helped with the washing up, Val did the ironing (including my shirt). We are camped in a pleasant little valley (Carmichael Court) run by an American. I went to bed. The others came along to our hut and we told ghost stories till after midnight.
We set off for Darwin. In town we helped Max un-load his motor-bike. We met the girls and had lunch in the dried bed of the local river. We bought fruit, cheese and veges and made a salad. After a sun-bake we visited the local court to hear a native being tried for murder. We decided to go back to camp, as the buses we had intended to hitch on were not going through that day. We bumped into a cook friend of our “sisters” who with his friends invited us all for a beer. After several, we bade the men from Wallawoo farewell and set off the 2 ½ miles to camp after leaving our packs at the local police station. There was no tea available for us so we went without. Jack tried to shoot a rabbit. Audrey was in a bit of a huff (needs a spanking). Says she is staying here. Max and Ken have landed a job here as waiters and odd job men. We played cards at night. I misled as usual.
We left early without breakfast which we later cooked by the road-side. After walking out of town we got a lift 12 miles away, where we made ourselves cosy until picked up by a transport, which took us to Ti Tree Wells where we had a few beers and a lovely tea, which made up for our previous starve. We pushed onto Barrow Creek where we arrived late and boiled two billies; the first brackish. We slept in the sandy creek bed. The country-side is quite fertile with trees and good grass. There are flocks of Galahs around some 200 strong. We encountered many dead roos on the road and Jack had a shot at a dingo. The road is strewn with old tyres, a feature also is than t hills which are all built north and south.
We set off from Barrow Creek at 10.15 after a breakfast of porridge and sleeping in the creek bed. We travelled all day after stopping at the Wauchope Hotel. We passed the Devil’s Marbles and pulled into Tennant Creek. Everything in town is painted white and the houses are off the ground. We unloaded tons of groceries at the hospital. We bought scone loaf, oranges and Dig and I had a “morlto”. We pushed on and had tea at a bore outside town, then we settled down to a long cold night. Audrey and I tried to keep warm. We “slept” on a lilo on cases of gelignite. We stopped during the small hours to unload a case at Elliot. At Larimah we unloaded the gelignite at the station this was Thursday 17th.
We moved on to the Larimah café where we boiled a billy outside. Audrey spilt cocoa on Jack’s scone loaf which he said was a good idea and repeated the next day. The proprietor of the café was annoyed as we washed our “crocs” in her rain barrel and spoilt the water. The aviary at the back of the café contained finches and a blue highly coloured parakeet. Don left his poncho behind. He also ran about ¾ mile back for Val’s cap for which she said “you wonderful man”, his reply was “Women”. We skipped lunch (more exercise). We called in at Catherine (sic). Audrey shouted lemonade and we had a long wait while the driver had a shower. We saw banana palms in the backyard of the hotel. We pushed on and camped about 30 miles past Palm Creek, where we cooked a super stew. I slept by the road-side on a piece of gal iron with a lilo in between us.
The country was real tropical although bushfires had been through. We meant to stop for lunch but we picked up a young chap who was injured on his motor-bike and brought him through to the Darwin Hospital. We drove uptown and unloaded and then tried to find a hotel for the girls. We happened to meet a Mrs Fuller (a kiwi) who shouted us a beer. We had two more and we all went a little “squiffy” having had no lunch. She invited us home (all six) we had tea and then Mrs Fuller went out. We bathed, washed and rewrote our diaries. During the night the mosquitoes came out in full force. The houses are nearly all on piles. “Ours” is on the ground, the walls are nearly all louvres. The bungalow has paw-paw and banana palms around it. When we were up the road yesterday, we bumped into the three girls who had been staying at the T. Creek “Ranch”. We also met John who is staying at the Hotel Darwin. I rang up and found out that our motor cyclist friend is in ward 2A for observation.
After a late start we all went shopping up Darwin. We bought Mrs Fuller a gift of a crystal vase. Lunch was also bought which we started to take to Mendel Beach. We met a “kiwi” taxi driver who took us on a tour of Darwin. He was quite a “line shooter”. We saw Vesteys Meat Work, Fanny bay and gaol and the old railway line. We spent the afternoon on the beach. The girls posed under the palm trees for photos. Jack hitched a ride back home for us in a bus. After tea I paid a visit to the kid in hospital. I got back just in time to go to the musical evening which Mrs Fuller had arranged for us. We sang songs around the piano until 1 o’clock and had a lovely supper.
Arose late and had brunch. After a clothes wash and a rest I walked up to Charlie Bayleys and had a yarn about old times. The heat is oppressive and too hot for walking. Charlie drove me down to Mendel Beach where I met the gang and we waited until our hosts arrived and took us to Nightcliff where we had a swim and a barbecue tea. We sang songs around the campfire.
We pushed off for Tennants Creek. Mrs Fuller saw us off and we gave her a farewell present of a crystal vase. We walked into town for our mail. Don, Jack and I had a few beers. I got “umbriaco” and widened the breach between Audrey and myself. (Boy! Am I in the dog house). Const Millgate gave us a lift out of town where it was discovered that Val had left her wallet somewhere in Darwin. Don and Val went back into town, where the wallet was eventually recovered having been found by a blackfellow. The rest of us waited in the shade among the tall grass. “Dig” meanwhile recited Omar Khyam (sic). Being umbriaco it was much appreciated by myself. We got a lift to a fork in the road. I stood on the bumper bar with the rest of the gang in the car. Another lift to Adelaide River where Val and I shouted beer. Audrey bought her own lemonade (still mad). All a little “happy” we waited by the roadside for a lift which took us to a road-house. Audrey had migraine. I helped her forget it. Maybe we speak again. At a stop where we boiled the billy I dropped my glasses on the road and forgot to pick them up. Consequently at 3 o’clock in the morning I caught a truck back 23 miles and retrieved them. I got a lift back with Charlie, the guy who brought us here in the first place. I didn’t get back until 7am. A small sleep and the breakfast. All this takes place on
Forgot to mention that the previous night Jack had quite a few shots at roos and we surprised a few turkeys. The guy who brought us along had his boy “banjo” with him. He and his team repair the telephone wires. We are on the track 5 weeks today. We all had a good siesta this morning and let the trucks go through, consequently we have waited until about 8 o’clock (pm) for our hitch. We had lunch at the road-house for 3/6. The chap who runs the place has natives mining tin for him about 5 miles from where we are. Last night the telephone guy squatted in our fire (& tucker) and told us tales of the blacks and the territory. Eddie & Max picked us up on Tuesday night in a D.C.A. truck and took us to Katherine where we boiled the billy and got to sleep about midnight.
Don burnt the porridge and was “resigned” as cook. We cleaned up at the hotel where we met Charlie who was hung up with generator trouble. Charlie had brought us up here. We pushed on to Mataranka where Jack had lunch and we had a tin of apricots. We had a few beers at the pub and then pushed on to Daly Waters where we had tea at the pub. Afterward we were guests at the licensee’s birthday party. I got to sleep about 2am at which hour I saw an illuminated balloon blown across the sky, as I found out later. The drivers went out to the drome early, we walked out and found that the truck wouldn’t be leaving until the following day.
Actually “she” only needs a valve grind but it looks like a put up job to keep the girls here overnight. I went without lunch and had tea at the pub after a shower and doing some washing. I had two precocious children at my table. I retired early, walked back to the drome where we had lef our packs and was awakened by Don & Jack to tell me that the truck drivers were annoyed because the girls wouldn’t play “ball” and that we had to walk from then on.
We got a lift the two miles out onto the main road. Don had to walk back for his hat which he had left on a drum. Yesterday Val had to walk back for the billies. A chap gave her a dink back on a bike. After a bit of rifle practice we walked on waited until we got a hitch to Dunmara where we dined on beer and scorched almonds. We transferred to another truck which took us through to within 30 miles of Tennants Creek where we slept the night. I lay on my lilo otherwise it would have been a bumpy old ride on petrol drums.
We made Tennants and had a shower at the Goldfields Hotel. We bought food and cooked “brunch”. I scrambled 3 eggs and had a tin of beans with it. We met a kiwi off the train who was working in a mine about 7 mile out. He was a traveller on the Ghan. We had a scratch dinner and in the afternoon the gang went to the pub. I stayed home and rested, photographed some ant hills. At night Dig evoked “Spaghetti Napolitane” as the “piece de resistance”. I have decided to push on alone tomorrow.
I was awake at 4 o’clock. The gang got up at 5, packed, shook hands and were off. I went back to sleep and awoke at 7. I felt a little lonely and was pleased to break camp. I note Don’s shoe laces, Audrey’s lipstick stained cigarette butts, the empty food cans and Barkley cigarette packets. They all remind me of them. I had to rearrange my pack to accommodate extra gear and after a breakfast of porridge and cheese and bread, I walked to the store where I bought a pad and this pencil. A Bonds tour bus full of schoolgirls from Melb was just pulling out. I walked ½ a mile out of town and wrote to mum until I got a lift in a blue Dodge sedan to the bore. They would have taken me to Darwin. Nice guys. I tried to do some washing but about half a dozen cars and trucks came by, so I just shaved and did my washing up. One of the cars contained the kiwi and his mate off to Darwin. Another ride. I decided to push onto the Mt Isa turnoff and walked past the bores and two lone graves where I hitched two more trucks who were branching off to stations. The kiwi told me I had just missed a Mt Isa Mines utility by ¼ hour. Rotten luck. I had dinner of a raw egg and cheese and then wrote to Don McKenry. Two abo boys came by with about 20 head of cattle which they were taking to the bore for water. They are wonderful horsemen. The traffic has stopped altogether. I am starting to get bored. I am afraid I am no good as a hermit. It’s a real Sunday afternoon. I waited until 5 o’clock and then walked back to the bore and cooked a special mixture of beans, eggs, oatmeal and bread (extra grouse). While I was cooking my meal at the bore I saw the tins of carrot and steak & veg that we had cooked on our outward trip. It made me think of the gang once more so I threw them in the bushes. It looked like rain so I bedded down in the engine room of the bore. I woke at 9.20pm to hear a car driving away from the bore.
Up at 5.30. I just missed a car by 10 mins. I sat on the road and watched the sun come up. Then I walked a mile out of town from the bore and cooked eggs for breakfast. I eventually (10 o’clock) got a lift to Mt (Face??) turnoff. Here I read the no water sign and put the gangs name on the board. I’m hanged if I could remember Audrey’s surname. I packed the piece of metal with “82” printed on it and a lizard ran from underneath. I don’t know who got the biggest fright. I wrote a letter to Uncle and I lined Jack’s rifle up and had a few shots. Water was getting short and I saw two brush turkeys near the Darwin sign so I took the rifle and water cans and stopped a passing “ute”. The birds flew away as I approached. There has been a big eagle hovering around all afternoon. He has been worth watching instead of shooting. I had oatmeal and shredded cheese for lunch. I found some sugar in our old food pack which made it a delicacy. I tipped the first lot over, the first time in my whole camping and at the time when I needed it most. For tea I opened my last can of food, steak & veg. It’s cheese and egg porridge from now on. I have adjusted myself to living alone once more and feel quite cheerful today except for odd moments. One car was passed today going the opposite way. I collected a lot of wood and am going to keep a big fire going in case any one comes by later so I sit in the middle of the Barkly highway watching a glorious sunset as night closes in (shades of Bourke St). I got to bed at 8 o’clock and was awakened at 8.45 by a car (utility going in my direction). Just after dark another car came through from Mt Isa. They sang out to know if I was ok. When I unwrapped my tent last night I found a broken egg in it. I hung it up in a tree to dry when I would have liked to have used it to break a cold wind that was blowing.
Up at 5.30. I had breakfast of porridge and grated cheese followed by toasted cheese. Oh Cheeses! I heated some water and had a shave and washed up. I am almost out of water again. There are some very friendly little birds hopping around this morning and my old friend the eagle is still doing duty. The small birds remind me of penguins - at this stage I decided to walk to the signpost and record that I was on my third day of waiting. This I did then I sauntered back and decided to burn a large inner-tube which was by the road-side. It was soon blazing merrily and I noted that a truck went by – the same one that had brought me out here. At this stage I couldn’t believe my eyes because a transport had actually turned onto the Barkly Highway going my way. It was Ted Bonnor, Cavanagh’s son. He was already slowing and told me he had heard I was still there. He told me he had searched Tennants Saturday night for me that he could have given our gang a lift to Isa in 8 ½ hours as he had to go over and pick up Cavanagh’s wife. We pushed on to Frowena where Mr & Mrs welcomed us by shouting bottles of beer. We unloaded and reloaded. It is quite a sprawling place. I took photos. I noted goat herds and Ted gave the natives a lot of sly digs on their weakness. We went in and had more beer. Mrs opened up and told me her troubles. She mentioned the girls in the short shorts obviously the “Girls”. I was umbriaco on five beers and we sat down to a lovely meal of soup, red hot curry and chilled rice pudding. They have a jersey herd. I had a good drink of cow’s milk. We were almost finished when the tourists arrived. Ted pointed at Flo Kaiser, a hitch hiker who was worth half a million. Her father is the millionaire ship and car builder of America. Ted refueled and we passed on by the turn off to Rockhampton Downs. The country was grassy and studded with medium sized shrubs. Ted told me of water wells that were there if one knew where to look. We ran over a six foot snake which made me very excited to the point of extreme profanity. We passed Abroy and Dalmore Downs and the telegraph repair station at Wahwoh??? and arrived at Soudan Station after dark. We off-loaded and went down to the bunk-house where we boiled tea on a big brazier around which the men were warming. They brought out damper bread and beautiful tender meat which we washed down with billy tea. Yum.Yum. We pushed on further to Avon Downs and off-loaded once more. We made Camooweal about midnight. The whole country is crawling with rats. I slept on the truck. Ted slept on the Hotel verandah. I forgot to mention the chap on the push-bike at Wahwoh who was riding to Tennants. I took his photo. They sampled our spuds so we had sampled their cream biscuits.
After Camooweal we pulled out of town and cooked our breakfast at the local rubbish dump, the only firewood available. I cooked some spuds off the truck and opened a tin of corned beef. We had billy tea. We had about 120 mile to go.. We went through Veboated Station and we also passed over a giant snake, well over 6ft. We pulled up to talk to an old fellow on a BSA bantam. He tried to sell us Watchtower bibles. A big wool train truck with five trailers attached was next. Ted yarned to the drivers and I took photos. Ted had been through Egypt and we yarned about all the wog towns. He gave me a photo and a message to deliver to an army mate in Townsville who just about owns the place.
Mobs of screaming white cockatoos were encountered and we tried more than once to run down plain turkeys that were on the road. Eventually we made Mt Isa. Its approaches were barren but the township was attractive, set on a creek and a large modern swimming pool was there. The mine and dump with its chimneys dominate the landscape, Ted shouted me steak and eggs for dinner. He wouldn’t take the money so I’m buying a ticket in the casket for us both. I got Jack’s letter from the P/O. I rang the station and found the fare was ₤3.17.6. I would have preferred to have gone to Charters Towers and hitch from there. Also I would have liked to have spent a few days at the mine and township. The mine goes down to 13 levels and runs about 2 miles out of town. It produces copper and lead in concentrates. I had a malted milk and waited for Ted who drove me and my gear to the station. I showered, shaved, etc and walked to the town where I bought supplies for the trip to Townsville. I met a few chaps who were looking for work. You have to be in town a while before you get it. The train pulled out – I said goodbye to Ted who is meeting me in Melb in October in his new car. I am calling on his sister with the photos I took of the trip. She lives at Moonee Ponds. The carriage is pretty empty. I teamed up with a chap called George, a railway carpenter. We made supper of my cheese, sausage and bread. We both had a seat to sleep on and I slept until Cloncurry which we reached at 5am. We got out and had several cups of tea.
We both slept well and we had more cheese, sausage and bread for breakfast with a cup of tea at Julia Creek. George bought Meths for my stove but it wouldn’t work and we had quite a bit of fun and excitement to make a stove that would. It runs mostly on pieces of my towel which isn’t so good. This morning we saw quite a lot of roos and in one place six plain turkeys. We stopped to look on an infant welfare centre. A very nice set-up for the sisters who run it,. It’s complete with blinds, lounge chairs and all mod cons. We stopped at Nelia for lunch. George and I had beers and then got the stove going and cooked our own spuds, onion and beef. At Nonda we put our dishes under the hot bore and washed them. The train went slowly onwards, stopping at a lot of small junctions and stations and we finally had tea of biscuits and cheese. We talked until about 8 and then we turned in.
We awoke to the yelling of Jess’s kids. Had breakfast of beans on bread and billy tea. The train was running late. At Richmond there were six brolgas within a few yards of the train, wild but tame. At Charters Towers George got off. I went to a shop and bought a pie and bananas. We set off again down through the ranges. I had Jess for company for the rest of the trip. We arrived at Townsville at 3 o’clock, 3½ hours late. Jack, Audrey and Don met me. We had a talk and a pineapple drink and went and met the other two girls who were shifting to the People’s Palace. We all went to see “Under Capricorn” and “Flaming Fury” after tea at a café. We had beer at interval. After the show we went to the P. Palace and farewelled Audrey who left the next day for Bowen (Come Here!). We then humped our packs to the beach and slept the night.
We arose late and I gave the boys breakfast in bed, porridge, potatoes and onions. We went to the local Tobruk Baths and had a wash-up and swim & bath in the sea (very murky) and the baths (Olympic standard). Then we had a dinner of bananas and biscuits and called on the girls who were going rowing. We continued with our plan and climbed Castle Hill where we had a superb view of the town (pop 39,000). We walked back via the road and took some photos then we adjourned to the pub foor a few beers and then on for a feed of fish and chips. We saw the girls once more and then walked to the beach where we bedded down for the night.
Awoke at 5 to rain so we shifted under a big tree and then under a shop verandah. Then we moved to the beach where we spread out our damp things to dry. We walked to a store and bought a supply of food and some lovely bananas at 6d lb. We then went to the park and had a real slap up feed and a big siesta. Jack and I gate-crashed the rugby and while Don went I got accommodation at the P.P. We me t Don later and had a feed in a café, then Jack and I went to the State School and slept under it.
We awoke to find ourselves surrounded by schoolkids. We got out fast and went to the beach where we cooked our breakfast. We then saw the girls. I got my shirt and they helped me pick a pair of trousers. I bought a belt also and we did a round of the chain stores. We ate raw tripe sausage, celery and buttered buns for dinner. Then we went job hunting. Jack got a job at a joint. I didn’t do so well without a ticket. I arranged to get money through from Brisbane and also posted letters to Mum and Lesters. We had tea at a café and saw the girls once more and then left to sleep on the beach. Jack managed a few games of chess from Blondie’s son at the café.
We arose at 8, cooked breakfast and went to the baths where we did some washing. We splashed around all day in the pool. We rang the girls but couldn’t contact them. We had Peter’s two-in-ones for lunch. At night we had a chop suey at a café. I went to the beach and was in bed at 6.45, my eyes were playing up. Jack came home at midnight. Had had a few beers and been to a dance (7 strong).
We went to the baths again. The girls came down about midday and bought us a pie. I shouted ice creams and lent Jack 4/- which brought my capital to 8/-. We bid the girls sad adieu and went up town about 4 o’clock where we bought up big and had to put most of the things back because with kitty we only had 10/- altogether. We then went to Bruce Robinson’s shop. He was pretty “merry”, shouted us two beers each and wanted us to call in on him on our way back from Cairns. He told us he would like to take us to his week-end shack. Next step was a bus to Garbeit (sic?) where we walked to a “fort” on the aerodrome and put up the tent for the night! We had a “super stew” of Bruce Robinson’s meat and slept well despite a very heavy dew. In the morning a chap came out from a house opposite and gave us bread and a big piece of lovely corn beef.
We hitched by truck to Bluewater Creek where we got a real “hot rod” to Rollingstone creek. The creek was deep and wide and we just had to have a swim. It was an ideal camp spot. We had drift wood for the fire, a swimming hole, fresh water, a pub half a mile away and we put our dishes in the creek for the fish to clean. The creek is full of fish. We had beans for dinner which Jack smashed! At night we went shooting and got a wallaby. One farmer shouted us a tea and gave us some pines and a green paw-paw for vegetable. We bought a 1/- of pines off Alf Hill but couldn’t pay for them as our money was at home. On the way back, Jack shot two wallaby for tea (yum, yum).
Fri 8th (Bruce appears to have lost track of the days at this point – ed)
We arose early and had a paw-paw, and then went for a shoot, we saw nothing but we called in at the Hills for the “pines” and were shouted breakfast. We went shooting again and called back for dinner. I tried Rosella jam, goals (sic) with a special fruit salad. He spent hours showing us the place, plenty of orchids. We ate passionfruit and cumquats. I later soldered up their carbide lamp and we then left to go home, have a swim and go for another shoot. We finished up at a cane farm where we cut a stick for ourselves and had a yarn with the boss of the place. We found the cane too sweet and fibrey. We heard wallaby on the way home, but it was too dark to shoot.
The possums had eaten our bread when we awoke this morning. Yesterday it was the sugar and butter. It may have been a pair of tortoise we saw. We had wallaby and paw-paw (green) for dinner. We went swimming on the lilo. A passing car gave us some oranges. Last night we walked to Rollingstone, Jack couldn’t cash his cheque and we spent our last 1, 4/- on beer, just for the heck of it. You don’t need money in paradise.
Jack went to Rollingstone to cash his cheque without success. I showered and cooked some wallaby for lunch with green paw-paw as a veg. We swam and did our washing and floated on the lilo. In the evening we went shooting and got two wallabies, one of which we gave to the Hill Bros. They gave us eggs and pine-apples. Also we got some five corners which I found strange to taste. Jack enjoyed his. A passing female in a car gave us 8 oranges. I cut the legs and tails off a doe wallaby. It had a young one which I killed with a rod. Subsequently we eat the tail for breakfast with leg meat and pine-apple. We also had (illeg) and orange drinks from pure fruit.
A lot of cars went through with holiday makers. We cleared up and got out this morning, we walked about a mile away from the creek until we got a lift with our first friend at the pine farm who took us to Ollero Creek where I wrote a letter to Barney (& rewrote it). Then we got a hitch past the Mt Spec turn-off and another at dusk when we had just about given up hope to Ingham. We bedded down in the local Methodist Sunday school and walked through the town at night. Mainly an Italian population. We came “home” and read magazines until after church service when we retired.
Mon 11th King’s Birthday
I forgot to mention, last night I asked for some bread from the house next door. She gave it to me and also a billy of tea – This am we got away at 9 o’clock. The parson gave us some oranges. We walked out of town. I got several small hitches. Finally a truck with wobbles picked us up. It broke down halfway and we hitched Penny’s truck to Cardwell where we had a big cook-up of wallaby. We tried it fried – it was just fair. We then got a cement truck to Tully where we watched some chaps play Turkish draughts. Very amusing. We had a look around the town. “Pines” were 2/3- for a medium and bananas 10d lb. Then to bed at the local grandstand (after another feed of wallaby). Tully is set close to the hills and seems to be a rainy sort of place. We saw the mill and the trucks loaded with cane. The 2ft gauge rums to most of the farms. The vegetation is tropical & we are passing cane farms all the time.
When we awoke this morning we found another “swaggie” camped with us. We got out of town in several small hitches to El Arish. Here we got a lift to a farm house where I was allowed to pick a dozen oranges for ourselves. We then got a lift by the Chief Engineer of Roads to Innisfail where he shouted us two beers and Jack cashed his last fiver. Then we all pushed onto Cairns past a very sharp pointed mountain known as Pyramid Hill. There were plenty of cane farms and we also struck a plant called sensitive plant which closed when you touched it. We left our luggage at a milk-bar and then we had a wonderful meal of real Italian spaghetti with pork sausages. We had a good look over the town and a scratch tea of fish and chips and then to the pictures where we saw “Snake Pit” and “The shining hour”. I had seen both before. We collected our packs then we went to the school where we slept the night.
In the morning we went to the beach, where we cooked breakfast and then down-town to the Forestry Dept where I got a permit to camp and Jack did the shopping. We just made the “Malita” and had a 1¾ hour trip to Green Island. We sat in the bows and watched Cairns disappear & Green Island show up, some 17 miles away. They played music on board and we were soon there. At the jetty we were astounded with the millions of sardines which were swimming under the jetty. Now and then big fish would “chop” at them & the water would boil. These big fish were Trevally & Long Toms. A trip to the reef in a glass bottom boat was next on the list and then swimming in the lovely clear water with the beautiful white coral sand. We ate and drank coconuts and then at ninth went to the kiosk where we met Jean Gillespie and sang songs around the piano. At night we slept under the verandah of a hut on the island, which was just as well as it rained heavily. We had dinner for 4/6- that day.
Next day we had quite a time getting ants out of the food. I woke up at night to hear a cockroach eating the bread. I went to shift it and found it full of ants. We had more swimming and in the afternoon we watched the boat come in. We walked around the island & gathered more coconuts & ate them. At night we went to the kiosk again and we met Jean’s sister, Margaret and played cards with them & Maxie (a young apprentice). I went to bed and Jack took Jean out to see the fish by moonlight.
Today we pulled out. There were an awful lot of tourist today including a host of young women from the Manunda. We went walking on the reef and saw clams and shells and collected coral. More swimming and sun-baking and then a sad farewell to Green Island. Jean and Margaret came down to bid us goodbye. We had a fish offered to us but as he didn’t come in with the fish we had stewed coconut for dinner. When we got to Cairns we had a half plate of spaghetti each with our limited resources. Being flat broke we couldn’t go to the pictures so we window shopped and visited the Manunda where we watched the wharfies actually working.. Then we walked all through the ship and so home to bed at the local school where I was kept awake most of the early morning by a bloke and his girl “parking”.
Breakfast on the beach, porridge with no milk and nothing else. I went to the bank and drew ₤15 and gave Jack half. We shopped for the weekend and had haircuts and then we had 10/- worth of steak and spaghetti at a café. We collected our gear at the fire-station and pushed off once more and hitched out of town in a dicky seat of a car. Then we got a lift in a “ute” right up onto the table-lands. We saw wild bananas growing and the cane patches in the fields below were lovely in contrasts of green, whilst in the bay we could see Green Island about 25 mile away. Our hitch took us into Kuranda where we had a beer and the publican advised us to take the train to Stony Creek, which we did (2/- each). The Kuranda station was beautifully set out with hanging ferns, a black chap and his half-caste mate were having a “blue” which was rather amusing. We cooked tea in a railway hut and then scrambled sadly on board to depart for Barron Falls, where we slept the night in the station shelter.
We awoke to find the falls shrouded in mist. It lifted and we saw them revealed as a 3 stream drop from 2 spillways, one of the spillways developing a fork, probably a drop of 400 ft, a wonderful sight of majestic splendour 1075 ft above sea level and 19 miles from Cairns. We descended by hundreds of steps down a long winding stairway to the foot of the falls. We took many photographs. I peeled off and swam through the pool where the spray from the falls was dropping. I was scared of meeting an alligator and didn’t enjoy my swim much. A long toil up the steps was next and just as we were leaving for Robbs monument, a gigantic monolith perched high above the river, we encountered two kiwis and had a natter with them. We saw the monument, returned, ate and packed and Jack filled in a week’s diary while I took a walk to the spillway of the falls. The train didn’t look like coming so we took a walk to the Hydro station where Jack “got” a paw-paw and some bananas. We started to walk again when the diesel train came along, so we stopped it and it took us to Kuranda. On board were several people from Green Island. We bought up at a local store and walked out of town to where we got a lift to Mareeba through average gum-tree country. We asked permission and slept in the local rural school, a sort of experimental type. No doors or windows were locked.
Jack and I breakfasted on a paw-paw and then had a look over a tobacco store. Jack cadged some petrol for our stove and we walked out of town to where we caught a truck which took us via Tolga and Atherton to Ravenshoe where we bought up again and got a screw for my camera and put my watch in for repairs. It has a broken spring and needs cleaning. A supply truck picked us up in town after we had posted our mail and had a café feed. ( I complained of the steak being burnt and got another piece). The truck took us to within 50 yds of the falls to where the care-taker gave us permission to sleep in the picnic hut. He also gave us a lantern and kero to light the fire. A Pioneer bus pulled in and we remet the two girls we had met on Green Island. We walked to a few lookouts and they gave us 10 mandarins they had had given to them. We saw them off and then walked to the head of the falls where I climbed down and took photos and then we walked upstream to the Main Roads Hydro camp. After returning we cooked a big feed and I wrote to mum.
We have been on the track 9 weeks today – This morning we packed and walked up to the main roads turn off where we hitched a Land Rover to Ravenshoe where I posted my letter to mum and collected my watch 33/- We walked out of town and hitched a Morris 8/40 to Yungaburra turnoff where we had lunch of Ravenshoe sausages (Boy; were they coarse). A young lad in a truck picked us up and we went though maize fields to Yungabuura. We stopped enroute at the curtain fig tree. A massive structure of roots. Then a chap who was going to Gordonvale to get Molasses picked us up and took us along the Gillies Highway to Lake Barrine where we met the girl’s Pioneer bus. They were in having A/T. We took photos and then went to the toll gate where the truck’s number was taken and we entered the 12 mile stretch of 630 turns, a one way road. A magnificent view was obtained from the peak, right down a big open valley patterned with cane farms. At Little Mulgrave the driver, Jack and I had three drinks. We met the girls, also having a drink. We pushed on to Gordonvale, pausing to take a photo of a cane train. Then we had another four beers and hitched our packs on and had a café tea and then retired to the local racecourse for the night.
We arose early and walked to a carriers who was supposed to leave for Cairns. He left everyday except Wednesday so we got a car and a semi to Cairns where we enquired about the “truck” and found that there had been a mix up and no truck was available (Jack and I had been going to drive it to Brisbane). We beat our way back past Gordonvale (a beer and some cakes) by trucks and a car, to where we got several small hitches to Fishery Falls where we were shouted a beer. We had lunch here by the creek and after a long wait we got another lift to just past Babinda, where the mill has just started crushing today. We are getting quite proficient at living off the land. Jack got a breakfast of paw-paws (ladder supplied) and I “got” A/T of oranges. An insurance agent took us to Innisfail and we hitched on to South Johnstone where we scored oranges and mandarins (a tent full) nad then we walked to a hut with five Maltese, where we sayed the night. I used their stove for cooking.
Quite a few small hitches past very attractive cane country and finally a long hitch from just before El Arish to Townsville where we had acafe feed and then booked in at the People’s Palace. Jack and I put our film sin at the chemist and then went to the baths for a swim. The French rugby team was there too, very fine types. We had met John earlier who told us that the girls had picked up Audrey from Bowen and then gone on to Mareeba. I picked up my A grade licence and gas cage from the P/O and then after a tea of fries and bananas, we did our washing and then went to the pictures where we saw “Whisky Galore” and “The Red Menace” and so home to bed where I had to blow up my lilo to get a good night’s rest.
Arose at 7.30 and had breakfast at the P.P. and then some more washing. We went and saw Bruce Robinson and he gave us some very tender steak and then we went down to the baths were we met Allan Ritchie, a cadet reporter on the Townsville Daily Bulletin. He interviewed us and took details for an article. We collected our films and Jack’s coat which had been dry-cleaned and then home to where we cooked tea on our stove singing hymns to cover the noise. We had an early night.
Had a restless night on account of a couple of drunks next door. We packed up and left for the baths after buying eight papers and seeing ourselves sadly mis-referenced. The “girls” were there and we spent the morning with them. They gave us their addresses in Sydney. Allan was there too and we ribbed him about his article. We spent the day swimming and eating ice blocks, then after a feed of spaghetti and pork at Café Bacteria (Supreme) we went to see Asphalt Jungle.
Postscript to Saturday: At the baths we cooked our steak on the stove, behind the pump-house. We invited Allan and then found we’d left the steak behind. Fortunately it was in the dressing shed. Also we talked about him while he was up above listening to us. (Much embarrassment)
We got up and packed and left our gear with the P/P and then went to the baths again where we teamed up with “Tolstoy” and Allan and spent the day sun-baking, swimming and ice-cream eating, then tea at a café with Tolstoy and finally we walked out of town, after nearly taking my neck off on the pub door. We got two hitches to near the Stuart Gaol, where we slept in a railway shed. There were plenty of cars going through but it was too dark to hitch.
We had no porridge this morning so we cooked rice instead then we got out on the road to Ayr. After about 20 mins wait we were picked up by a “ute” (a Pontiac ’27 model, same as Jack’s). The road was pretty bad, dust & creek beds and corrugated “roads”. There were a lot of lily-ponds and swans and we saw great flocks of Brolgas and a few white irises, whilst we encountered a considerable number of wallabies that had been killed along the road. We passed over the Burdekin River, at best a couple of hundred yards wide. At the beginning of the trip we passed many cane farms but later on it was open country and gum trees. Our hitch was an Englishman and his son, who were working here as painters and had only been in Australia a year. They took us through to Bowen where we cooked our meal on the beach and then retired to the school where we had a chat to the school-master who introduced us to a Public Works employee who gave us a bed, a use of his kitchen utensils. We went upstairs in the school to where we were shown the art of icing cakes. We slept well on our nice beds.
We walked and hitched out of town to the turn-off for Proserpine. Things looked grim but we only had to wait about 20 mins and we got a good fast lift in an Austin A70 by a Shell executive. The “road” was atrocious, sand, pot-holes and creek-beds. I had to open 3 gates along the way. There were a few cane farms along the route, until we came to Proserpine, which was all sugar. Ted (our driver) bought us a beer, we walked out of town and had sausages, biomite and cheese for lunch by the road side. We were picked up by a chap who was an ambulance officer in a morris minor sedan. He handed us onto a guy in a Land Rover who took us on to Calen. We walked through town where a pick a back truck picked us up and then broke down about 17 mile from Mackay (The Leap). We hitched on and had a super feed (the best so far) at a café and then went to see “Annie get your gun”. After that we walked to the local show and slept inside St Joseph’s tea stall.
They gave us a big pile of sandwiches which we ate for breakfast and dinner, along with some tomatoes they “gave” us. On the previous day we saw two horses back to back kicking each other. We saw the show and bought beer ad toffee apples, fairy floss and soft drinks. We saw the sheep dog trials and a cane-cutting machine and a post hole digger. We could have bought a Ford Austin for ₤670, which would have realised a nice profit in Melb. After a look at the dogs we saddled up and walked out of town to where our third hitch took us to Sarina where we bought tickets to “Rockie” for 29/2 each. We had tea of (illegible) which we cooked in the waiting room, also we got a bottle of petrol from the driver who bought us here. Very handy for the stove which we used on the train.
Jack and I had a carriage to ourselves. We spent a good night sleeping on the seats. We cooked breakfast on the train and arrived at Rockhampton at 1 o’clock (4 hrs late). We walked around town and I bought a tin of baked beans (damaged by water) at 6d and 6d cake crumbs (ends). We had dinner of fish and chips and then walked out of town (my pack was very heavy) about a mile and a half where we waited a long time and finally got a lift to Bajool where I botted some hot water and we had cocoa and beans for tea. We slept in a gangers hut.
We got a hitch about 20 miles with a milk-man, then a “ute” to Mt Larcom where we had an ice-cream, and hitched a bookmaker who was a very interesting chap. He had spent 4 years on the road during the Depression and told us tales of jumping the Rattler and being sealed in with a load of hot sugar and agan trapped between logs on a railway truck. The usual fine was 7 days and the food was good in jail (he got professional and no lock on the doors, also a fight for a ₤1). He spent ₤10 in 4 years and used to “bite” publicans for shoes and they developed (illegible) for good “bites” and others for no good ones. He took us to the park on the hill and showed us Gladstone then drove us out of town. We got a lift to a river where everyone was catching fish wholesale and then we got a hitch from three men in a coal carting truck. We stopped at several small towns where Jack and I managed to buy butter for them. They shouted a bottle of beer and pies and then took us to an orchard where we all got caught pinching jam oranges. “Deafie” somersaulted the fence and left the “boodle” behind. We made Maryborough about 11pm and bedded down in the school.
We got out of school and took a walk downtown where we left our gear at the police station. It was raining so we went to the pictures in the afternoon and saw “Cheaper by the dozen” and “Night and the city”. I scored a packet of Vita Brits by just walking out with them. At night we had a feed in a café and then went to bed.
We left school again and walked out of town to where we got a lift about 25 mile out in an open “ute”, then we got a cash register chap in a 1937 Plymouth (he wanted ₤400 for it). He took us to Redcliffe’s turn-off where we had lunch and got a lift to Redcliffe where we found that Davo had shifted to Ekibin and so we hitched onward. Davo is a good cake cook. We bedded down in the spare room. I spent a rather cold night on my mattress on the floor.
Jack and I went to Brisbane in bus (9d). We walked around the city and then visited the town hall where we ascended to the town hall tower. I got my shoe stitched up (1-). We had a businessman’s lunch at Bond’s café and then went to the Botanic Gardens. I saw an emu and a kangaroo cavorting. Jack took photo. We went home for tea at night. Jack, Davo and I went and had a few beers. We walked home and had supper. It was my turn to sleep in the bed.
Jack and I did our washing and then we went into town where we did a bit of business and then went to the oictures where we saw “Right Cross” and “Grounds for Marriage”. We came out of the show and saw Bill Danoster (sp??) from Melbourne., we had beers and then got home on the Tarraginde (sp??) bus ½ hr late. Yesterday we got a letter each, mine from Dor, Jack’s from his mother. I drew ₤13 from the bank and gave Jack ₤5. Jack wrote home and I wrote to Teddy at night.
Jack and I set out for Toowoomba. I wore my new pack. We really worked our passage. We bought some cheap sausages along the way and finally crawled up the Tall Bar and into town in a ruined A model. We had a meal and then over the railway and up to No 9 Clifford St. It hadn’t changed much. Then we went to Laurel bank park. The yanks had used it for a convalescence centre and it had changed quite a bit. From there we walked to the hospital where I found only Ted, the wardsman, sister Knowles and Mt McInnes the secretary left. The wards were overcrowded – things dilapidated. Apparently one shouldn’t rake over old ashes. From there we walked into town where we bought two chess sets for 6d each and managed to get a lift to the top of the range and then we started to walk toward Pienie Point but it was growing dark and we saw that it was too far away so we hitched down the range and finally when almost despairing we got a lift in a sheep transport to Brisbane where we waited 40 mins for a bus. Eventually we retired at 11am. (pm?? surely) I slept on the bed, Jack on the floor. Jack is suffering with a boil and seems out of sorts.
Jack went back to bed after breakfast. I took a walk in the sunshine, washed my sweater, etc. I had a cold shower and at niht, Jack, Davo and I went to the city where we had a few beers and then saw “To Please a Lady” and “The Violent Hour” (a few more beers at interval). When I got home I had an attack of diarrhoea. I had to get up in the night as well.
We left Davo’s. We put ₤1 in an envelope for them and then bussed to town where I got a letter from mum with ₤1 in it. We posted our old packs home. Then we caught a Mt Gravatt tram onto the Pacific Highway where we got a milk-truck to Southport. We walked about 1½ miles through town and then got a truck to Coolongatta. We had a walk around town and watched the roller-skating and men with bulldozers. I hadn’t eaten all day and at tea-time I watched Jack eat a fish feed at the “Wreck”. WE had a walk around a fun parlour and watched the miniature golf and then went to the pictures where we saw “Fed Agent at Large” and “My Blue Heaven”. I came out half way through the first picture and had a feed of friend oysters (a la Wreck). A very nice café by the way decorated with driftwood, lobster pots and fish nets. We bedded down at the tennis courts.
We slept late and then walked through the town to a surf beach where we had a swim. After this we bought supplies, went to a headland, where we had dinner overlooking the coast. We walked back to town and met two kiwi stringbag merchants, girls, hitchhiking. I had squeezed Jack’s boil and we got it dressed at the Ambulance Station where we picked up our packs and about 3 o’clock, we hitched and walked (about 3 miles) until where after dark we bedded down in a local farmer’s hut among the corn (and rats).
We got fresh milk for our weeties and then walked to the road, where we picked up Allan (an insurance chap from Toowoomba). We took it in turns at driving, until before Grafton where the cut out, played up. After passing and returning to Grafton and a lot of trouble, we got it fixed and drove until midnight in shifts. During the day we ferried across two large rivers. We saw many fine streams and cane farms, also bananas. We slept by the road-side. Allan shouted us lunch that day.
I started off the day by bashing into a stump. We had breakfast at Kempsey and then drove to Port Macquarie where we held up with radiator trouble. Whilst waiting I sampled a few mixtures in the local pub, rum and milk. Bonox and sherry and just plain beer. We bought lunch and ate it down on the beach. I tried sun-baking but found it too cold. The radiator job wasn’t very satisfactory but we pushed off about 5pm. Jack drove most of the way. We finally made Newcastle, over just one more ferry. Allan had to get some more oil and petrol and then drove us to the beach where we said goodbye.
We slept in the pavilion on the beach. It was 2 o’clock before we bedded down. I got to sleep at 3 and up at 7. Jack had left the weetbix and his camera in the car so I went shopping and bought some weetbix. I had to get down on my knees to get a pint of milk. We cleaned up and then walked towards town, where we were stopped by a chap who asked us if we were hitch-hikers and bought us a drink (of milk). Jack played him chess (twice). He was a biologist from Heard Island (Bill Taylor). We then called on Roger who was working above the garage in the carpet and lino section. After a yarn we went and had a café dinner and then saw a newsreel until 4 o’clock when we met Rodge and he took us to a hotel where we had 3 schooners. He has bought an MG and is struggling hard to pay ₤16 a month off it. After the pub, he drove us home where we met dad and had a few more beers. We all cooked as Mrs Wina (sp??) is away. They have a very lovely home on the heights. Roger gave us a look at his photos and then Jack and I had a hot bath and Mr Wina gave us a pair of pyjamas each and we went to bed to sleep the clock around. At night-time we can see all the lights of town from the hill-top.
Mr Wina took our clothes in to be dry-cleaned today. Jack and I arose late and cooked breakfast of bacon and eggs. Then we read and looked at photos in the sun-lounge. We had a meal of baked beans and egg and then about 2 o’clock we went out and walked about 5 miles around the town. We saw some lovely surf beaches and collected some shells. Arriving home we put some spuds on. There was a blackout and we lit lamps and then Mr Wina came home and we had a few beers and then cooked tea. Roger came home after 7 and we went to his sister’s place, where we talked and looked at photos. It was after midnight when we retired. I went to sleep at 1 o’clock after a hot shower.
We arose late as usual and had our breakfast of bacon and eggs, mid morning we had grape fruit and coca cola. Dinner time we had asparagus and pears. Life is wonderful. We mucked around in the sun lounge. Later on Jack decided to cook a rice-pudding, we left it cooking and then met Roger who took us for a drive in his MG around the town and out to Lake Macquarie. We got home and cooked tea after a few schooners at the local pub. We yarned with Steg and Rog and then to bed. Roger gave me a pair of his socks.
Jack and I had a lazy day and then walked down-town where we posted letters (mine to mum). We met Rog after work and picked up Steg. We had two schooners each and then the beer ran out. Back home to Roger’s where we polished off five bottles between us. We had tea and then went to Stegs, where we had an ear-bash and then we all went and had supper at Roger’s sisters place and so to bed.
Roger drove us out of town about 3 mile past Swansea. Here we waited and then walked to the top of a hill where we got a hitch on a sand truck and then a Holden with a chap who shouted us a drink. He went out of his way and took us to Narremburn where we found Daisy’s place and then had scrambled eggs an a café (2/6-) for tea. Daisy was out but the lady next door took us in and gave us a feed (another one). Jack and I bussed and walked over the bridge and around the quay and then up George St to the Town Hall where we returned to Wynard (sp??) and bought a “hot” hot dog (mustard) and then under, around and over the bridge to home. We caught the wrong bus home via Neutral Bay, but it finally arrived. Then we slept on Daisy’s verandah.
We had breakfast and shave “next door” and then made for the palm beach bus. It wouldn’t stop so we walked about a mile and then caught a Manly Wharf bus where we had a lovely fish and chips feed and then a bus to Narrabeen, where we hitched to Avalon and then walked to Clareville where we phoned Jessie (from Avalon). We had an ear-bash and a cuppa and then went for a walk around Clareville. We got back and had a feed of cheese and asparagus and I had beer, a Southern Buster, a Pink Lady, a Gin Squash. Gwen and her hubby and kids arrived. I carried on, on Pink Ladies. I heaved my heart out before the night was out (Splendid – illegible). We saw the Snelsons (sp??) off and I went to bed, where I woke up to find my heart had run amok and my stomach had “butterflies”.
I spent all day in bed with a hot water bottle. Jack brought me my meals. About 4 o’clock I sent for the doctor. He didn’t come that night but recommended I take two phenobarb tablets of which I took two and awoke about 2 o’clock to find my heart had steadied down.
Jack and I went to town after breakfast. I got up and had a stroll along the beach and tried to find my legs. There were some oysters on the rocks and I had a feed of some. I went back to the store and had a meal of steak and onion with Allan and then did the washing up. Allan and I then went by car to Mona Vale and did a tour of the glass-houses of Warrawa. Arriving back I went to bed for an hour and found that Allan had gone to pick up Jess in the car. They arrived back and I spent until 10.30 telling Jess of the Continent – what terrible children she has.
Jack gave me an urgent letter from Mum. I booked a seat home on the 8pm plane and gave Allan a telegram to send to mum. Allan had electrical trouble. I spent some time tracing it. Jack carried my pack to the car, we said goodbye and were off to Avalon where we caught a Manly Ferry bus (Narrabeen first). We did the trip across the harbour to the quay, then we trammed to T.A.A where we left our packs and I went to the bank and withdrew ₤10 (my last) and bought my ticket home. Jack and I then went and viewed the Mitchell Library. I said good-bye to him and visited Gwen and Bill but found them out (2nd floor, Martin Place). I had a meal at Repins and then bought Rob a shirt and Mum some China-ware. Myself I bought miniature chianti bottles (salt & pepper). I walked around Hyde Park and then went and waited for 7.20 when I bussed to the drome and caught the 8pm plane.