Trek Across Australia – 2000 Dispatch 1
The Chamberlain 9G Across-Australia Tractor Trek was sent on its way from Steep Point Friday, July 7th, 2000.
32 tractors, plus support vehicles, were waved on their way by Ron Bywaters, one of the co-drivers who drove the original 9G in the 1957 Mobil Gas Reliability Rally in 1957.
Tractors & crews from all around W.A. were joined by tractors from Kyneton, Victoria, & Tamworth, NSW, to be waved off by W.A. Premier Rt Hon Richard Court from Parliament House, on Thursday 29th June. After a stop over & tour of the old Chamberlain site in Welshpool, the crews headed north to enjoy festivities & frivolity in Bullsbrook, Chittering, Moora, & Jurien Bay. The respective Lions clubs are to be held fully responsible for the ever expanding girths with breakfasts, lunches & dinners.
Dongara saw some repair work in Club President Hugh (Cumber) Campbell’s workshop, an overnight camp & the official starting ceremony on Sunday 2nd July with Larry Lobster sending the tractors to Geraldton for the Olympic Flame ceremony at the Recreation Ground.
Due to exceptional coordination & management Vice President Peter Nunn, removed a his sick motor & replaced it with a healthy one that was removed from a tractor in Dongara, freighted up & re-installed. This was all done such that only he was only 3 hours behind the convoy who moved onto the next camp at Carrarang Station
The next day was seven hours of sand hills & corrugations that really tested the skills & patience of the drivers. Eventually a convoy of very tired Trekkers reached Australia’s most westerly point, for a much appreciated rest day at one of the most beautiful places on the W.A. coastline.
After being awaken by Albany’s Lisa Anderson & her bagpipe serenade, some of the group enjoyed a successful fishing charter, although the pet Victorian Chris Dawson felt that his job was to provide all the burley for the whole time. However the fish was enjoyed by the Trekkers, the majority of whom used the time to repack & re-arrange trailers & gear. Already it is becoming obvious that most are carrying too much gear, especially with the notorious Gunbarrel H’Way awaiting after Wiluna, & 1100 red sand hills to be crossed in the Simpson Desert after Alice Springs.
After a brief ceremony at Steep Point itself, at which Ron Bywaters was presented as the 9G Club’s inaugural Life Membership, with Lisa Anderson playing the bagpipes & after Esperance’s Brenda Dowsett sang the Club song, Dongara’s Hugh (Cumber) Campbell & Peter Nunn, led the convoy back over the sand hills into the Murchison pastoral area. With the experience gained on the way in & the repacking of the trailers saw the trip out to be a little less dramatic & a little quicker, although there were a number of boggings & 2nd 3rd attempts at the bigger & softer of the hills.
The Hamelin Pool Telegraph Station Camp Site was the occasion of a BBQ Extraordinaire complete with the most amazing selection of locally made cream cakes. Then from the amongst the oil, gaskets, tools, food, water & camping gear appeared three piano accordions, a complete drum kit & a guitar to provide the music for a bush dance that went till late.
The next three days were spent travelling through the magnificent Murchison, with bush camps on Yalardy, Milly Milly & Belelee stations. The bush is a real picture as the mulga trees are loaded with pods, the wild flowers starting to bloom & many of the creeks & rivers still carrying water.
Monday ,11th July was the day that Meekatharra was invaded, with all the local businesses being inundated, especially all the fitting, engineering & manufacturing shops carrying out minor & major repairs to mufflers, hitches, motors & all bits in between. ‘Old Scraggy’, crewed by the Variety Club group is leaving town with some studs that have been salvaged from the local speedway’s water tractor, such was the ingenuity & assistance required & delivered by the Meekatharra business houses.
The local sportsground was a very comfortable campsite complete with hot showers & a BBQ & drinks supplied by the local constabulary. A R.F.D.S fundraising auction & ‘fines’ session was followed by the Tractor Trek trio till the cold & late hour sent most to their beds.
Wednesday 12th July saw a camp at Wiluna prior to the Gunbarrel H’Way leg through to South Australia & Ayers Rock.
Different Trekkers sent their regards to the schools at Kendenup, Walpole, Scadden & Esperance & thanked them for their continuing interest.