Malanda is the dairy capital for the Atherton Tablelands, the
large dairy factory close to the centre of the town supplies
dairy products to Cairns, Townsville, Darwin and as far away as
Papua New Guinea. In the centre of the town is the beautiful old
wooden, Malanda Hotel.
It was good
to catch up with my friends Rod and Sonya who I’d not seen for
some years. They’d recently moved up from Tasmania and purchased
an old farm house on a small plot of land. They were in the
process of restoring the old home.
Next day I unloaded the tools from the boot and started work on
Hewie. I took off the leaky side plate, drilled out the
broken stud and
tapped in a new thread. I used the tap to clean
out the old bolt holes and tested the new bolts for a nice fit.
The problem was with the aluminium plate. It’d been repaired on
one end with epoxy glue and on the other end it had been
aluminium welded. Much of the surface that was to create a water
tight seal on the side of the engine was corroded away. I really
needed a new plate, but wasn’t sure where to start looking.
Repairing the old one appeared the easiest solution. Rod came up
with a sheet of glass, so I soaked some wet and dry sandpaper
and stood there for an hour slowly sanding the surface of the
aluminium plate on fine paper until an acceptable looking
surface appeared. I showed the finished product to Rod, he
looked at it dubiously and looked up at me.
think it’ll get you around Australia?”
I didn’t answer, but
instead asked him if he had an old breakfast cereal pack that I
could make a gasket from. This time I cut two gaskets from a
Corn Flakes packet and gasket gooed them both to the surface of
the plate and bolted it up the engine. The new bolts tightened
the plate up nicely, with excess gasket goo running down the
side of the engine. I fitted the generator back on, filled the
radiator up with water and started Hewie. We went out for
a quick run, the plate didn’t leak so the cooling system held
the correct pressure.
main job finished, I set to work and gave Hewie a good
greasing and topped up the oil in the differential and gear
box. He was almost ready to roll.
The next I
need was two new tyres for the front. The old ones still had a
few more miles in them, but not really enough to get us to
Darwin. I’d tried to get new tyres before leaving Ballina, but
was told that the tyres I had on Hewie, 155x14 made by
Michelin, were not available. They’d simply stopped making
them. I found this out just before I was about to leave Ballina,
but decided to solve the problem when it became an ultimate
necessity. The local tyre shop in Malanda came up with some
Goodyear 175x14 size tyres,
but they were too wide. The suspension got in the way when the
tire fitter tried fitting them on the front wheels. So we tried
them on the back, although they were a little wider, they were a
good fit. The old Michelins on the back we simply moved
to the front. The Goodyear tyres on the back were not
only sightly wider, they also were slightly bigger. Hewie’s
back end stood a fraction taller, this gave him a slightly
sportier look. Not that I was over enthusiast about the look as
I’ve never really liked souped up Minors. I’ve always thought
that if one wants a sports car, go out and buy one. But why try
turning something that never was a sports cars into something
that basically never will be a real sports car. I don’t like to
say this but someone one told me. “You can’t turn chicken shit
into chicken salad.”
With the needed repairs
finalised, I said goodbye to Rod and Sonya. Back on the road
again I headed down the range, from the coolness of the
tablelands back to the tropical heat and humidity of the coast.
Hewie’s cooling problem seemed to now be behind him. I
stopped every fifteen or twenty minutes and got out and checked
for leaks around the plate but it was watertight and the cooling
system was holding
pressure again. Back at Innisfail again, I
headed south along the Bruce highway, turning off at the small
town of El Arish and headed out on the coastal detour via Bingal
Bay and Mission Beach and then back onto to the Bruce highway
again at Australia’s town with the highest rainfall, Tully. From
here I continued on to Ingham and stayed the night at the
Commercial Hotel again. When on a good thing, stick to it. It’s
difficult to get the enthusiasm to pitch a tent when you can get
a hotel room with a comfortable bed and clean sheets for
fourteen dollars a night.
Next morning I was up at
sunrise, ready for the new day. Most hotels provide a place to
make a cup of tea or coffee also some bread, a toaster, a bottle
of milk and some corn flakes for breakfast. But the Commercial
didn’t provide this self service breakfast. Fair enough, I
thought considering the tariff. I stopped off at an early
opening café and joined local farmers, sugar cane workers, and
truck drivers for a cappuccino. The morning was cool, with
another hot day ahead. I sat down with a copy of The
Australian, scanned the headlines and opened up the story
with news on the war in Iraq. The date was the 18th
of August 2004. Since setting out on the trip I’d lost interest
in watching television in the evenings. Even if TV was around
I’d prefer to read a book or work on my notes for this book. It
was like I’d seen so many different things throughout the day
anything more visual seemed tiring to absorb. So I relished a
morning newspaper over a coffee to keep up with world and local
The run back
to Townsville took me a little less than two hours, I stopped at
the same service station that I visited when I drove up and
topped up with unleaded petrol and added the usual twenty
millilitre shot of a lead replacement substitute. I’d been told
it was the good oil when it came to using unleaded
At Townsville I turned right, back onto the
Flinders highway again and headed west to Charters Towers. The
return trip was all a no-brainer. I stopped in, and stayed at
the Charters Towers Backpackers again.
On the road
early again the next morning, I made a stop at a truck stop for
fuel and headed west once again on the Flinders highway. My
first stop after and hour and forty minutes was the small town
of Pentland. I stopped by a small service station, mainly to
check the oil and water, but while there I pulled out the petrol
pump hose and topped up the fuel tank. The amount came to a
little over eight dollars. I walked in to pay. The small shop
sold drinks, ice creams and sweets. Hanging on the walls next to
these edibles was a basic collection of spare parts including
fan belts, radiator hoses and a shelf devoted to oil. Out the
back was a workshop with a few cars being repaired. A couple of
mechanics in overalls looked up when I walked in. One left and
walked into the shop and I gave him my credit card to pay for
the fuel. He then jumped into a rage, cursing me for paying for
eight dollars worth of fuel with a credit card.
me more to process in bank fees than what it’s worth!”
I pay for all my petrol with a credit card. Why don’t you
negotiate with the bank if you think they are over charging you.
Sorry, I’m only a customer. Why complain to me?” I said.
That didn’t seem to help
the situation as he continued to blame high bank fees on me -
his customer. I signed the slip and walked out to Hewie.
A new Holden Commodore drove in past by myself and Hewie
and came to a halt at the side entrance to the workshop. Two
attractive young women dressed in tight jeans, boots and cowgirl
shirts got out and met the two mechanics at the side door. The
mechanic who’d just served me had obviously forgotten his anger
towards me and had a smile from ear to ear on his face.
I put Hewie into gear and headed
across the road and stopped at a picnic table. I got out my
thermos, made a cup of tea and a
sandwich and sat there under
over to the side of the road and found that the problem was a
blown top radiator hose. I got out some duct tap and hoped to
be able to tap it up. But that wasn’t going to work as the hose
was an all rubber hose and didn’t have any reinforcing. As soon
as I tried to wrap the duct tape around the problem area the
hose continued to tear. Eventually the whole hose tore off. I
unfortunately had neither a spare radiator hose nor a great deal
of water. I poured half the container of water I had into the
radiator, got back in and continued driving. I drove slowly and
Hewie there was no water pump or thermostat for the
sugary substances to destroy. When I got going again it was easy
to tell when the engine was getting hot again as the sickly
sweet smell of burnt orange juice filled the inside of the car.
I stopped the engine and glided to another standstill. This time
I poured in a litre of milk and half a bottle Cawarra Estate
2003 Merlot. It was a sacrifice, but worse sacrifices have been
known in such dire situations. I was now on my last drop of
liquid. I had to find water or else hail a car or truck and beg
them for water.
another bottle of warm Coke and poured that in, I was now down
to less than a litre. My map showed a small town called Prairie
to be the next town. How far ahead I didn’t know. I closed the
bonnet and started Hewie up again and slowly headed along
the highway. I made one more stop, I used the last drop of water
I had – I peed into the radiator. Moving along again, I’d only
driven about two kilometres when the sign post, Prairie
appeared. I rounded the next slight bend and there in front of
me was a small town, a pub, service station and a handful of
houses. A handfull of houses is about ten houses in my
books. I thought to myself about the possibility of finding a
radiator hose for a 1951 model Morris Minor somewhere around
those ten or so buildings.
I drove in and parked in front of the pub, walked in a nd took a
seat at the bar.
“Can I help
can! First make it a schooner of beer” I sat and watched as she
pulled an icy glass from the freezer and filled it full of ice
cold beer from the tap.
you come from?” she asked.
come from Charters Towers today but I started from Ballina down
in northern New South Wales” I said as she looked out the door
and spied Hewie sitting confidently out front of the hotel.
Morrie, did you came all the way from Ballina, in that?
did. So far it’s been a good trip except I blew a radiator hose
just a few kilometres out of town. I just limped in on my last
drop of water. This beer tastes bloody good!”
“I own an
MGB. It’s sitting out in the shed behind the pub. I bought it
about a year ago but haven’t driven it much as I’ve just had a
baby. It’s out in the back shed gathering dust. Want another
“Yes thank you, they go down quick around here.”
they would if you’ve been stuck out there in the heat with no
water. There’s a public phone over there. You can call the Royal
Automobile Club of Queensland, they’ll come out from Hughenden,
it’s only 50 kilometres up along the highway.”
“It’s only a
short piece of standard radiator hose that I need. I was hoping
someone around here might be able to help. It seems a bit silly
to have them come all the way out from Hughenden when all
they’ll probably do is tow me in”
“I’ll get my
husband to have a look in the shed out the back where the MGB is
garaged. There’s plenty old bits and pieces of junk out there.
Surely there is something that will fit.”
the night. Do you have camping at the back of the hotel?” I
five dollars a night to camp out the back, there’s a grassy area
to set your tent up on and hot showers and toilets. We also have
dinner in the dining room for an extra ten dollars. Tonight is
roast chicken and vegies.”
perfect, sign me up for the whole deal.”
credit card and keep it until I’ve finished, we’ll settle before I leave. May as well, put another beer on it
while you’re at it.” I suggested
“By the way,
my name is Audrey, I hope you enjoy your stay here with us.”
I finished my beer and
wandered out the back of the hotel to the small camping area. I
was the only one there. I found a spot between two trees and set
my tent up in the shade. I got out my camp chair and table and
opened up the novel I’d started a few days previously. I’d just
finished a chapter when out came Audrey’s husband and introduced
the guy with the Morris. Come over to the shed and we’ll have a
look at what there is” he said.
the door and there sitting was Audrey’s red MGB, all covered in
fine dust, but obviously in beautiful condition. We searched
through the surrounding junk consisting mainly of old farm
machinery, lawn mowers, tools and lots of old agricultural
irrigation pipe. There was miles of the stuff in large coils.
Tom cut me a piece of it off which I took over to Hewie
and tried it for size. Unfortunately the inside diameter was
about an inch and a quarter. What I needed was an inch and an
eighth, inside diameter. We searched around some more but gave
up when the kitchen called.
“Diner time, your tea is on the table” called
the cook who was Audry’s mother.
“There’s a guy down the road who has an early
fifties model Ford Prefect, he might have something that’d fit.
But for now let’s wash up for tea.”
After dinner I retired for an early night and
woke up at sunrise the next morning. I lay in bed for a while
listening to the birds and wondering how I was going to make it
to Hughenden. I thought about filling as many containers as I
could find with water and heading out. But that’d be dangerous,
as there would be no way of calculating how much water I’d
need.. My other solution would be to just call the RACQ, maybe
they’d have a small piece of hose they could bring out if I told
them the size that I needed. More likely they’d just tow me in
and order the part from Brisbane. I’d have to wait in Hughenden
a few days until the part would arrive.
The woman running the garage across the road
was putting out her “open” signs. I was going to get out my
stove and make a cup of tea, but instead I packed the tent up
and headed over to the garage for a chin wag with her.
I ordered a cup of coffee and a blueberry
muffin. The young woman went out to the back of the shop into a
to boil a jug and make coffee from a jar of instant coffee. I
took a seat at one of the three small tables covered with
plastic table cloths and looked around for something to read,
but all I could find were women’s magazines
“How’s business been?” I asked her.
“Not bad, I mainly do meals, drinks and ice
creams, for the truckies and tourists that pass through. I don’t
sell much petrol or diesel. My prices are too expensive, I only
have a small tank and the suppliers want me to install a larger
tank at the cost of many thousands of dollars. It’s not worth
it. Furthermore, I don’t have the money. I just have to sell
petrol at the highest price to cover my costs” she said.
“So the wholesale price of petrol is just
like anything else that we buy, the more you buy the cheaper it
is? I asked.
“That’s it. My only customers here tend to be
motor cyclists with small tanks. They stop in and buy a few
litres and charge it to their credit card. Buy the time I pay
for petrol and the credit card fees I actually loose on the
“But they generally buy a drink or an ice
cream I suppose” I asked
“Yeah they do, that’s where I make some
money” she said.
“How long have you lived in Prairie” I asked.
“I was born here, I was married, but my
husband left, I bought this business a few years ago, I run it
with my daughter, she’s sixteen.”
wouldn’t leave you much spare time running a business like this”
“You’re right. It’s a seven day a week job,
it was tougher when my daughter was still going to school. It’s
better now that she can help out more” she said.
I got up and wandered over towards the door
and looked out to see an early fifties model Ford Prefect
heading down the road towards us. It pulled up next to Hewie.
Out climbed a gentleman who introduced himself as Bob with his
“We heard that there was a Morris Minor in
town and were worried that we might have missed you. We got out
of bed a little later this morning.” he said.
“Don’t worry. I’m not going anywhere until I
can get this fixed.” I said.
As I opened up the
bonnet and showed them the problem.
mate. I’ve got a piece of hose that’ll fit that, jump in your
car and follow me around to my place.” he said.
I followed him around
the corner, down the street and stopped out front of a large old
corrugated iron shed next to their home. Inside was full of old
car parts, hanging on the walls and hanging down from the
ceiling. He looked around for a minute then put his hand up to
the ceiling and pulled down a length of radiator hose about
twice the length that I needed, also it was the exact diameter.
He pulled out a knife and measured up the correct length and cut
required amount. He then got out his tools and fitted it
Hewie. I told him what I’d put in the radiator to limp
into Prairie, so he got the garden hose out and flushed out the
mixture of Coke, beer, orange juice, milk, Merlot and urine.
get you going again!”
I sat and talked with
Hazel while Bob went into their house
and came out with a big
pot of tea and some
biscuits. He set up our morning tea on a table under the shade
of a tree beside the old shed. We sat and drank tea and ate
biscuits while he told me of their life in Prairie and his life
on the railway.
Back on the road again, it took a little less than an hour to
drive into Hughenden. I was expecting a much larger town, but
found a place that appeared to be slowly becoming a ghost town.
I stopped in a garage to check the petrol, top up with oil and
water. Just joking! Hewie was running like new and hardly
using a drop of oil or water.
you come from in that? asked the service station attendant.
well” he replied.
Hughenden to be a much larger town. It looks like it‘s going to
become a ghost town in a few years.” I asked.
will if it keeps going the way it has been in the last few
years. Look at that hotel across the road, it’s just closed. It
was a backpackers’ hostel and a pub but couldn’t make a go of
it. There is only one pub left in the town now, everyone is
moving out to Townsville. I’m the town’s fuel supplier, even
I’ve moved into Townsville. I just fly back and forth to keep
the business running. Part of the problem is the local council
here, they’re bloody useless! Instead of buying their fuel from
me they do a deal with some fuel supplier in Townsville. How can
small towns survive with a local council having that kind of
attitude?” he said.
watching a show on the television the other day where an
inventor had invented a system where diesel water pumps on
cattle stations can be turned on and off via radio control. The
system also included a video feedback to see how well the pump
was working and cattle drinking. Is the future of cattle
ranching such that the rancher lives in the city and controls
the ranch out in the bush via radio control and the internet.
When the cattle are fat enough, all he needs to do is call
someone out to round them all up and take them to market all
done from the comfort of an office.” I said.
about right, there’ll be no one left out
here in the bush soon.
I made my way into the central shopping
centre, a collection of old wooden buildings, beautiful if
you’re a tourist like myself. But if you were a
for prosperity for your town you’d be out of luck. The main
street resembled a cowboy town.
I stopped by and parked out
front of a café
the F J Holden café. Inside I met the owner who told me he’d
been named Frank Joseph Holden at birth. The café was full of FJ Holden photos, parts, memorabilia and juke boxes that played
music from the 1950’s. I sat down
for a plate of fish and chips and looked over the duke box for a
song by Hank Williams.
That night I stayed at the local caravan and camping
At the back of the park there was an old nurses’ home which had
since closed down. The building was now under control of the
caravan park which rented out the rooms to travellers. For
twenty dollars a night it was a good deal. The place was clean
and comfortable with a large kitchen to prepare your own meals.
This is generally the problem with staying at pubs - there is
generally no kitchen to use. I’d expect that it would be a
popular backpacker retreat if Hughenden was on the well worn
backpacker trail, but it’s not. The rooms were full of
contractors who’d driven or flown out from Townsville to do
telephone, communications and railway maintenance work.
continued on my westerly route through to Richmond,
about two hours drive. I drove through the small town until I
reached the main cross street, stopped to give way to a car and
Hewie stalled. I hit the starter and the engine turned
over a few times but Hewie refused to start. A few people stood on the
corner watching the show. I got out and pushed Hewie into
a right hand turn down a side street where I opened the bonnet.
Everything looked to be in general running order, I took the
distributor cap off and turned the engine over. The points
looked a little close together, but not seriously. I got a screw
driver out and opened them up a little more. I have a feeler
gauge but I’ve adjusted the points so often I now just do it by
I turned the
ignition on and gave Hewie another kick of the starter
motor and he kicked over and ran smoothly. That was too easy I
thought to myself, something in the back of my head was telling
me that there was another problem which caused him to stop. But
he’s going so I’ll work that problem out when I get to it.
I swung back
onto the main road and headed down to Richmond’s big tourist
attraction - the dinosaur museum called Kronosaurus Korner.
I did a tour
of the museum before getting back on the road again. My next
stop not far west of Richmond was the town of Maxwelton a little
over 40 kilometres down the road. The museum also served as
tourist information office, I stopped by the info counter and
asked the woman behind the counter how big Maxwelton was. She
said that she lived there and that there was only her house and
a few others. I was surprised I’d thought the town was much
was, it was a railway town, but since the introduction of
centralised signalling there was no need for the town to exist.
Most of the houses belonged to Queensland Rail and they just
came in and took away what houses they owned”
not even a general store” I asked.
that went years ago!”
We (myself and Hewie) set out towards
Maxwelton. As I drove along my mind drifted back to the last
time I’d passed through Maxwelton.
I’d left school back in 1969 and decided to
do a hitch-hiking trip around Australia. I’d set out from Sydney
and headed over to Adelaide, across to Perth, then north along
the west coast of Australia to Port Hedland and up to Darwin.
From Darwin, I hitchhiked south down to Mount Isa. Transport was
mostly lifts with road trains. These weren’t the powerful and
fast machines they are today. Back then, the diesel engine was
still only in its infancy. Top speed of most of the road trains
was about 35 to 45 mph. To reach these speeds it generally took
about five to ten minutes of constant gear changing to get it up
to that speed – that’s if the road was flat. It is remark
the advancement the diesel engine has gone through in the last
30 to 35 years.
The roads back then weren’t anywhere like
they are t
oday. The road from Darwin down to Mount Isa was
sealed. Much of this was done during the 2nd World
War after Darwin was attacked. From Mount Isa through to
Townsville was still unsealed and had very few bridges. Th
just followed down into the creek bed and out the other side. If
there’d been rain, that was just too bad, you waited until the
I’d arrived at Mount Isa and got another lift
west in a small truck through to a little town called Nelia
which is just 40 kilometres west of Maxwelton. The town was
mainly there to support the maintenance of the then unsealed
Flinders highway. The driver set me down at the road works
depot. There was an office in the road works depot and a few
houses that made up the town and a small unattended railway
station. I rolled out my sleeping bag in the waiting room and
slept the night there - with an empty stomach. Next morning I
awoke to the sound of an east bound freight train approaching. I
jumped out of my sleeping bag and hailed it down. The engine
driver applied the brakes and bought the train to a standstill
with the guards van and one passenger carriage at the end of the
train sitting perfectly in the middle of the station. I opened
the door of a dogbox on the old wooden passenger car. As I did
the guard of the train appeared at the door of the guard’s van.
“You blokes think this is a benevolent
society. You can pay your fare at Maxwelton.” he shouted out at
In fact, I didn’t have the money to pay for
the fare, because I’d just left school. I was hoping that either
the crew would give me a lift in the loco or the guard would
feel sorry for me and ignore the fact that I’d jumped his train.
The train continued on at its merry way at a speed of about 10
miles an hour. This may seem slow, but it was a relief from the
dust and noise of hitch-hiking. I could lay on the long
comfortable seat in the dogbox carriage I was in and drift off
to sleep as the train rolled along. After a couple of hours, the
train came to a standstill. This was obviously Maxwelton we were
at. I was too scared to look out the window for fear that the
guard and the station master would see me and ask me for my
fare, which I had but wanted to spend on food when I finally
reached somewhere I could buy something to eat. I lay low, going
back to sleep, waking again when the train was again on a roll.
The final destination was Townsville but I alighted at Charters
Towers in the early hours of the next morning. It seems that I
wasn’t the only hobo travelling, as three others slid off the
leeward side of the carriage that morning and unrolled their
swags under a tree in the freight yard.
I’d missed Maxwelton on my last trip, but was
determined to see it this time. But when I arrived there, I
found it had all gone, except for a few houses. I could see
where the railway station once was, but the buildings and goods
siding were now long gone. All that existed was a small
centralised traffic control box, a signal and loop. Trains were
now all controlled from Townsville.
The town of Maxwelton had faded into history
but maybe I could find something of Nelia. I continued driving
and by late afternoon we arrived in the next town further west
of Nelia, a town called Julia Creek. It wasn’t that I’d missed
Nelia, the town just didn’t exist any more. The road had been
sealed some years ago and the town of Nelia now wasn’t needed
anymore, so it had just faded into history.
Back as a teenager, riding the freight train,
I do remember arriving at Julia Creek, waking up from a long
afternoon sleep and looking out the window to see the Julia
Creek Hotel, an old wooden building, with a long wide verandah,
directly opposite the railway station.
As I drove into Julia Creek I ran into a
locust plague. The memories of the old pub were on my mind. I
headed down to the railway station. The pub and the station were
still there, not much had changed since I was last there 35
years ago. I walked into the public bar. It was just as it must
have been all those years ago. The afternoon was hot and dry, a
few drinkers turned to acknowledge my arrival as I opened the
door, and the barmaid looked up and greeted me.
“Do you have any rooms overlooking the
railway station” I asked her.
”Sure do, here’s the key go up and take a
I went upstairs and found a room with a
perfect view of the railway line. The passenger train, (The
Inlander) that runs between Townsville and Mount Isa was
sitting at the station. I went back down to the bar and paid the
barmaid $30 for the room for the night and ordered schooner of
Four X beer.
“Dinner in the dining room will start at 6pm
if you’re interested” said the barmaid as she handed me my
I told her and a few other local drinkers at
the bar that I’d passed through Julia Creek some 35 years ago
and thought that this pub would be a good place to stay and
watch trains if I ever came back here.
“Well, here I am again” I told them. One of
the drinkers looked up with a smirk on his face.
“Don’t expect to see any more trains than the
Inlander now sitting at the station. There’s been a
derailment between Cloncurry and the Isa. It’s been a serious
one also - the trucks derailed off an ore train in the middle of
a cutting. No one was injured, but it’s going to take a few
days, maybe more, to clean up the mess,. They’re thinking about
building a temporary line around the derailment to try to get
trains on the roll again.”
I finished my my beer
and headed into the dining room for dinner. During dinner the
air became cool as a light breeze came up from the south. It had
the smell of nice cool rain. It hadn’t rained in the area for
months. I finished my dinner and was walking up the stairs to my
room when I heard the sound of rain on the galvanised iron roof.
I sat out in the quietness of the old wooden veranda as the sun
set, enjoying the fragrances as the dry, parched landscape
soaked up the rain.
morning, before leaving Julia Creek I stopped by the local
library which had internet access and managed to again condense
a week of work at my business down to just a few hours. I was
back on the road before midday and heading towards Cloncurry.
The wind had swung around to the west. Although blowing just a
light breeze it was slowing Hewie down. The rain the
previous night had settled the dust and made for a cooler
morning. But this didn’t last long as after two hours driving
the westerly heated up and started to blow stronger. I was down
from a steady 40mph to 35 mph when I started to smell the sickly
smell of steam and burnt orange juice. Hewie was in
trouble again. I pulled over to the side of the road and opened
the bonnet. Steam was gushing out of the radiator overflow pipe.
I let him
cool down and topped the radiator up with more water and
continued on. The problem was what I’d been expecting since
leaving home. The radiator core was too old and corroded. It
wasn’t leaking but the fine fins that carry out the heat from
the core were mostly corroded away. It needed a re-core.
I continued on, but slower, around 30 mph and
after another hour’s drive I arrived in the old mining
Cloncurry. I filled up with fuel and checked over the engine
again. The cooling system was still holding pressure, so all I
had to do was drive carefully to avoid over heating.
We rolled into the mining town of Mount Isa
that afternoon. I’d kept my eye out on the two hour drive in for
the town of Mary Kathleen. I remember passing through there back
in 1969. It had been the first place Australia had mined uranium
back in the mid 1950’s. But now obviously nothing was left, even
all the houses had been removed. There were no signs of old
mining equipment, nothing. The mine had been opened and closed
over the years and was finally closed once and for all back in