Around a Continent by Motor Cycle."AN APPRECIATION" - By the manufacturer of the machine. Messers. The Douglas Motors LTD.
Just a word of introduction before the reader's mind is absorbed in Mr. Grady's wonderful narrative. With regard to the actual feat accomplished words are not necessary. It is a wonderful example of a Britisher's pluck and stamina, coupled with the power of endurance in a machine of our manufacture, and has once more given further cause for our perfect faith that the Douglas Motor Cycle is the very last word in efficiency.
The following story is exactly as Mr. Grady wrote it, word for word, without iteration of any sort. He wrote this of his own accord from the jottings in his diary and without influence from anyone interested in the machine or its complementary parts.
By the Editor of the "MOTOR CYCLE" - Reprinted from their issue of June 11th, 1925.
THE EPIC RIDE.
Would that there have been more from the young explorer's pen, for the modest account of his five months' journey leaves a great deal to the imagination.
He is, first and foremost, a motor cyclist; he has made no claims to being a writer. Perhaps for this reason the account rings more sincere than would have been the case had the intrepid pathfinder set out merely to secure publicity. He had preferred to allow his ride to speak for itself.
Unfortunately very few can appreciate fully the magnitude of the achievement, the dangers encountered, and the difficulties overcome, for in the modern world of ours it is hard to realise that parts of an island continent like Australia remain unexplored and are so out of touch with civilisation that failure of the explorer's mount would mean certain death.
It is one thing to set off on a journey knowing that, in the event of failure, other modes of transport can be utilised-to continue or to return-but it is quite another proportion when the traveller knows that a breakdown may leave no chance of a second attempt.
The achievement speaks volumes for the pluck of the young motor cyclist, who will go down to posterity as the first man to encircle Australia on a mechanically propelled vehicle, and for the qualities of the British motor cycle he used.
"A WORD FROM GRADY."
Grady was born in Fremantle, Australia, on the 20th May, 1901. He gained his first experience in Automobile driving with a Ford Car, running round for the Cabin Tea Rooms when only 15-1/2 years of age.
At the age of 16 he enlisted and joined up with the 51st Battalion as a Signalman and saw two years of active service. Previous to the historic attempt recorded in this booklet, he competed in many Motor Cycle Races, both with and without success, and is a member of the Coast Motor Cycle Club, being one of the foundation members.
He is a tall good-looking chap, with auburn hair, and to quote an Australian newspaper - "enough to make the average girl envious" - he is a typical British character.
Mr. A. Grady's account of "The Around Australia Ride on a 2-3/4 HP Douglas."
On the first of October I started from Fremantle on what is generally recognised as the longest and most difficult journey ever attempted on a motor cycle - the ride around Australia.
Space and weight are strictly limited, so the comforts which are generally deemed necessities, such as blankets, towels, razors, etc, were left behind. My whole swag comprised an army oil ground sheet and mosquito net, which, tightly wrapped, were attached to the front of the forkside. Tooth-brush was carried in a pocket.
Two gallon cans braced to the sides of the carrier gave me an extra petrol capacity of 3 gallons. The ordinary tank in the machine held 1-1/2 gallons of petrol and 1 quart of oil. An extra gallon of oil was also carried. On top of the carrier was a Nobels cartridge box, which contained spare parts, tyre mending outfit, etc. Outside the port petrol tank the 2 gallon water bag was swung.
All on, including myself, we tipped the scales at 450 lb, a big weight for a little Douglas to carry. I also took a small first-aid outfit with a good supply of fever mixture to combat troubles with mosquitoes and dysentery from constantly changing waters, and for general ailments.
A 2 lb. jam tin bolted to the back number plate served as a tea billy. It was often mistaken for a rain gauge. Some hard corned beef, usually wrapped round the handlebar, tea and sugar constituted the cuisine. Bates oversize tyres were fitted to the machine and, from previous experience of this make, I was convinced they would do good work. I had yet to learn how much better they where than I believed at starting.
After uplifting sendoffs from Fremantle and Perth, I pushed along for four days, and then leaving the fenced fields of wheat, entered the red soil of the Murchison district with its surface strewn with millions of "Doublegees." These hard seeds with their three sharp spikes affected the feet of sheep so seriously as often prevent travel. Often my tyre treads were invisible, being covered with a mass of these three pronged seeds, but none succeeded in penetrating to the inner tube.
Next came the Gascoyne district with its numerous rivers and creeks, making travel very severe. These two station districts have some wonderful, well constructed homesteads, electrically lighted and surrounded by gardens of flowers and vegetables, and an eloquent testimony of the profit there is in sheep growing in Western Australia.
In the next district, the Minilya, I have travelled 14 hours a day without changing once out of low gear. Deep heavy sand. loose and red, and churned into powder by wagon teams and heavy lorries, constitutes "he road." There are a few miles of good road between Onslow and Port Hedland, but, with this exception, the 800 miles ahead to Halls Creek was said to be all sand.
From Derby one notices how the stations start to thin out, being from 60 to 80 miles apart. There are less sheep; the countless mobs of kangaroos disappear; the curious emu strides ostentatiously in from to try his pace against the Douglas; no more flocks of wild turkeys flap their way into the sky as one surprises them, and in their place appears the stubborn bullock with his head arched and horns advanced to welcome you; the glimpse of a sneaking dingo lurking in the bush or the swish of parted air as a flock of flying foxes flit phantom-like overhead.
Here the country was in the throes of drought, dead sheep and dead kangaroos everywhere. A carter, whom I met heading South with cart and two horses, told me he had a job at Mulga Downs as windmill expert at 6 pound a week. As it cost him 3 pound per week to feed his horses, he had to leave.
Throughout the Kimberley and Fitzroy districts it is all low gear work through heavy sand. One night I camped with a teamster, who told me of a sand pull that had cost him 50 pound. His loaded wagon was axle deep in shifting sand and the team of 50 mules was unable to move it. He then shifted on 70 mules and they simply tore the harness to pieces and the wagon had to lightened by removing 3 tons of the load.
At Halls Creek I met Sergeant Flinders and Constable Turner, who captured that blood-thirsty black fellow "Banjo" after many months of searching through the wild tribes. "Banjo" lived near Halls Creek station and one day the blood lust overcome him, he secured a rifle and put the bullet through one of the men in charge. The other man, hearing the shot, walked out to investigate and saw stretched before him the lifeless body of his mate.
Standing near was the demoniacal "Banjo" a smoking rifle in his hands. Taking in the situation at a glance the white man tried to pacify the old nigger, and the buck raised his rifle steadily to his shoulder. "You won't shoot me, will you, Banjo?" were his last words. Banjo replied "Too plurry late, Boss" and shot him down. Then, turning to the black girl who was in the kitchen, he demanded food and tea of the best and quick service if she did not wish to share the white men's fate. While he was enjoying the meal, another black entered and said the wounded white man wanted a drink of water. "What!" said Banjo. "He's not dead yet? Tell him to hurry up and die before I finish this cup of tea." On finishing his meal, he took a rope and tied the feet of the two men and with one end and the other to the saddle, he mounted a horse and towed the men, the one dead and the other wounded into the bush.
Making a shallow grave, he tumbled into it both the dead and the live man and buried them. On receipt of the news, these two intrepid policemen started hot on Banjo's trail. Then began some wonderful tracking by the black-trackers for Banjo used wonderful cleverness in making and hiding his tracks. He walked backwards for four miles and travelled night and day. Eventually they tracked him to a wire fence where his tracks disappeared. No signs of any where visible except those of a dog, which ran along by the fence. Banjo walked 5 miles on the wire fence, but forgot about the tracks the following dog was making. At last they hounded him down, but Banjo was full of fight and at last fell riddled with bullets.
From Halls Creek to Esau's is a distance of 10 miles where lives an old hermit Esau, aged 92; then 8 miles to Palm Springs, a garden amid these stony ranges where I decided to stay the night, and remarked to the owner "I think I shall camp outside as it will be cooler."
"If you do, you will be the first man who has done so for years," he said, "for snakes are very numerous and when I wake at night I can hear them crawling about on the floor." The bunks inside are suspended by chains from the roof so as to be clear of snakes. I slept inside.
To Flore Valley, 18 miles, the track was mountainous and stony. Along here I took a heavy fall and damaged my leg. This range of mountains continues for 36 miles, known locally as the razorbacks. The upgrades were almost impossible for my mount to scale even with me pushing all out. On top of one of these ridge caps are the remains of a horse balanced with front and hind legs swinging in the air on either side, his body resting on the summit.
From Flora Valley to Soakage Creek is a distance of 60 miles, and here I had a bath. Blackgins carried water for an overhead bucket rigged as a shower.
After dining on tomatoes and securing a gallon of petrol, I started for Burrindoodoo, 65 miles, and the only trail was the track of 2 horses that had gone along 3 weeks before. I was continually walking to distinguish between the horse tracks and those of bullocks. However, I got along fairly well in spite of the ground being very rough virgin ground with many cattle pads. The surface was covered with Spinifex (prickly tuft grass), Mitchell grass and stumps. However I arrived at Sweetwater Yards (so named from the water having a sweet unpalatable taste) where the cattle pads spit into dozens. Here I scouted on foot for two hour following pads, which spun out until I eventually trailed the fresh horse tracks. It was at these Yards, the two overlanders, Terry and Yockney in a Ford car, lost the pad and nearly perished in the vast trackless plain. They had a few directions from Inverary Station, but the ground offered no tracks, however faint, and they wandered almost fatally. I had not even their few directions, and had to depend entirely on the compass and the horse tracks. However I followed these tracks for another 28 miles and the going was so diabolical that at times I doubted if I could be right. At last to my comfort, I reached the second well, and there spent another hour following pads until I at last saw the few rough buildings of Burrindoodoo on the left of the Sturt River.
This river is covered with long cane grass and has a loose scilly bottom with no crossing whatever. After struggling in it for about 15 minutes, I decided to get help from the blacks' camp, but on reaching the camp I discovered only a few blacks were in it. I mustered these, and started them pushing the machine across. All went well until we were about 100 yards from the bank, and judging by their heavy breathing, the blacks were tired.
I decided to start up the engine and help them. They were all standing behind having a "blow" when the old bus fired. That finished the relief party, and when I looked round the blacks had covered 150 yards in about 10 seconds and were heading home, and all entreaties and demonstrations with regard to its quietness were of no avail. It was a devil-devil to them and they stood off at a safe distance to watch me complete the rest of the pull under my own power. After much coaxing, I induced one old black to sit on the machine.
Immediately after he hit the seat he bounced off with one spring and raced away yelling at the top of his voice. I discovered he had placed his bare toe on the red hot exhaust pipe. Late that evening Mr. Robinson came home, and during the night we had a tremendous thunderstorm, so I had to trespass on his hospitality for two days until the country was dry enough to travel, and started with the following directions. "Follow the cattle pads heading due East to Wallamunga Lagoon and cross river between second water hole and some bogged cattle further down, then follow the creek for one mile and pick up pads and follow for 10 miles East. Cross the Creek and make for the right of a big hill where a faint cattle pad could be discerned, which leads to Inverary, and make for a green tree on the plain."
All went well until I got to the Creek, "Bunda" by name. I looked for the hill and discovered one a little to the left, and making for this I travelled over atrocious country covered with grass and stumps and crab holes for 8 miles, and when nearing the hill I discovered it to be a belt of heavy timber and away on my right appeared another hill, undoubtedly the one I had missed. I decided to return, the very though of recrossing that dreadful plain nearly bringing tears to my eyes.
Going back was more difficult than I contemplated, my tracks owing to the rough country had zigzagged terribly, and I was completely at sea as to how to return. To add to my troubles the waterbag dragging through the long sword grass had sprung a leak, and the water had leaked away.
For hours I pushed back to where I though I had left the creek, and camping at night I had reluctantly to confess that I was completely bushed. Supper with half a jam tin of water saved from the bag, and a piece of sunbaked bread so hard that I had to soak it in my precious water before I could bite in; a mouthful of sickly warm water, then darkness and silence. Everything was hushed and awfully still. I would reflect a little faintheartedly on my journey, solitary and melancholy, in that vast rugged interior. Mile after mile of dreadful riding - it seemed to be maddening and, I though on the road behind, its sand, its cracks, its creeks, its intense heat, its deep and treacherous gorges, a lonesomeness would fall on me like the falling dusk on the land. I would gaze absently at the blank range of cliffs, at the silent and boundless plain, down the winding rows of scrub and rock while nature hushed the world to sleep, when suddenly the awesome howl of a dingo split the stillness and roused me out of my reverie.
Tired and weary I rolled my swag around me and sank into oblivion. I woke at dawn and without a break-fast returned 8 miles, but still the country was unfamiliar and thoughts came into my head that had to be driven out. All that day I plugged along despite the intense heat and maddening mirages, sparing neither myself or machine. Heat was rising from the much abused engine in colourless streams, baking my legs and boots. The hot winds blew clouds of fine stinging dust into my face with the long cane grass continually swishing into my eyes. I was filled with a prescience of being trapped by storms, for water, while it meant salvation, could also mean a long imprisonment in that wild land.
When the big wet sets in, all human affairs come to a standstill. The country is one great bog where neither man nor horse may travel. This though forced me to ride hard all day. About four o'clock I could see a long fringe of timber and knew it to be a creek and water lay about 10 miles further down, but I had doubts as to whether I could make it.
Travelling on foot was faster and more comfortable than riding the machine, and besides, I was suffering with aches from the previous day's jolting. So I broke down a long stick, and mounted my mosquito net on the end as a flag.
I erected it by the machine as a guide in case I should come back to find it. Taking the empty waterbag I started off on foot, hungry and thirsty and filthy dirty to follow the creek down to water. The falling of night stopped further movement. During the night storm clouds rolled up and thunder started to reverberate over the vast plains and the vivid lightning enabled me to see for miles around. Grasshoppers, beetles and other insects in countless hordes were attracted by the glow of the fire foreboding only too truly the approaching storm. A blinding flash of lightning followed by a blasting crash of thunder and the storm burst in wild fury over the thirsty plain. For two hours it pounded incessantly compelling me to seek shelter among the thin scrub, until the rain ceased as suddenly as it had started.
I welcomed the dawn, soaked through but happy in my salvation and relief from the intolerable thirst, and, on inspecting the road, decided to return to the machine and wait till the following day before attempting to travel.
Then, being well rested, I started up my ever willing Douglas and pushed on East until I stumbled over a heavy cattle pad on which were the faint tracks of a buggy wheel. I had actually struck the track. On following it, I could plainly see how I had become lost. After crossing the Creek, the track instead of crossing these downs had swung away to the left and followed round the edge of the desert.
After taking a good drink and filling my waterbag, I travelled on towards Inerary. Pulling up at the bank of a creek, I could see though the rocks and trees a solid stream of flowing water. Climbing down the rugged sides I waded in and found it was above my wast. Anxious to push on, I decided to cross at all risk, so started to prepare the Douglas for a submarine passage.
Collecting a few handfuls of grass I stuffed them tightly into the exhaust pipes and, with a piece of fat, kept for lubricating the chains, I greased the carburettor and magneto and plugged up the end of the carburettor with a piece of greasy cloth. Then smearing grease over the petrol tank cap, I cautiously started across.
In mid-stream the handlebars were just visible and I had to strain to win out and up the opposite bank. Another trip across and my small but important sock of perishable goods were over; the plugs were withdrawn, and the grand little machine started up with a healthy roar. On arriving at Inverary, I rested the remainder of the day and on the next morning started onward again with the following directions : "Six miles out due East pass a water hole on right. One mile ahead the track cuts over the toe of a little flat topped spinifex hill and turns sharp to left. Proceed North-East for 10 miles and strike a creek running for 3 miles, then cross it at the bottom of a large stony hill and follow base of hill around to a small rocky gorge. Cross right growing at the foot of a range of low hills. Cross another heavy stony bottomed creek and run along the edge of a desert until black soil plains are reached. Cut right through the plains due East to an old yard called "29-mile yard."
To those North bushmen that description was concise and ample, but to me it was confusing owing to the several meanings of words that differ from what I am used to.
For instance - "desert" - The desert country was the red soiled timbered land and the great expanses of sand and dry grass were called plains. Then came the, "downs," and they where grassy dry black soil country, a mass of knotty grass stumps and spinifex honeycombed with crab holes. So, nothing daunted, but not overconfident, as my directions were not to plain, I started off.
Stopping every half mile, I examined the ground comparing the notes with the lay of the country. I would discern an ant hill crushed at the base by a wheel and would then feel as though I was on a macadamised road.
Through the downs I followed where the long grass was slightly knocked down by horses, and on to the timbered lands where the sight of a piece of bark knocked off a tree by a wheel hub would make one feel confident I was on the right track.
At last no signs whatsoever appeared, and I was beginning to get a bit faint hearted.
Nothing tallied with the instructions. Mounting the top of a little bald hill, I eagerly searched the horizon for land marks, but only the wide boundless plain met my gaze-no hills or low strips of timber marking the course of a creek, not a bird or a beast to be seen. A few scattered scrub trees dotted the landscape looking as big as ancient oaks, their size gradually diminishing on approach. Often have I been deceived by small trees no more than 4 feet high, which, at 6 miles, appear tall and large, and I even have mistaken them for the welcome windmill 30 or 40 feet high. A sheep on the horizon looks the size of a buffalo.
Far away to the left could be seen the creek I had recently crossed, winding its way through the plains until diffused into a hovering mirage. Setting my compass I picked out a spot due East, and kicked the old bus up, plunged into the long grass and wretched crab holes. I often reflected on the staunchness and willingness of my little mount. Never once did the Douglas refuse duty - always ready to push on - indefatigable and yet I had often cursed and sworn at it as I struggled up the sides of those ubiquitous sandy creeks, the engine crackling like a machine gun through the short open exhaust pipes. She deserved no such return from me, whom she carried through that vast wilderness.
Five miles I travelled, long thick grass preventing the wind from cooling the sweltering engine and the heat and smell of burning oil ascending to my head. At last I emerged from the undergrowth of a cane and wood and gradually ascended until I could see the rough outline of a barren gorge.
Somewhere ahead now I should find water, but the creek and the old yard there was no sign whatever. It was about 2 p.m., and the track to the hilly rugged gorge was covered with the large stones, so, preferring to walk rather than be jolted to death, I unhitched the waterbag and started afoot for the big hills about 1-1/2 miles distant in order to command a good view of the country. Scrambling to the top, I sat on the stones and let my thoughts wander aimlessly.
Vague apprehensions crept into my mind as I gazed at the remains of some unfortunate calf that had wandered. I tapped my bone-dry waterbag and its hollow sound chilled me. Then I began to think of lagoons and rivers I knew of, thoughts that almost turned my over-taxed and unbalanced mind into delirious ecstasies. Presently a foul stench from dead cattle reached me, and shaking of my lethargy I prospected amongst the gorges and found a pool of beautiful clear water. After a good night's sleep I decided to return to Inverary, for to go on meant certain defeat.
After an arduous struggle, I got back to the station. It was at this point that the generosity of Farquahson Bros. was made clear to me. At every station I had passed through, the Farquahsons were noted for kindness and munificence, and with me they never hesitated, but immediately volunteered to lend me a guide with a spare saddle horse and two pack horses, for I had not enough petrol to make Ware Hill, and the spare saddle horse was for when I ran out of petrol. So, with the guide and provisions, we hit the trail for Ware Hill and camped first night at Swan Waterhole, 30 miles out.
The ground was covered with dry pandamus leaves, which cracked like breaking glass as I rode over. Next day, we proceeded to Grave Creek where the going was indescribable, the mode of travelling being the guide going ahead and when he was about a quarter of a mile away I would ride up and stop until he got on again, and so on, but as this black had never seen a motor cycle before, his idea of roads was what the horses could get along on. As it was cross country travelling and short cuts, I could hardly keep pace with the walking horses.
Several times I had to stop and take off the foot rests to enable me to cross the stony bottomed creeks, and when I would look ahead there would be no sign of rider or horses, and I had to scout around and pick up the tracks and bye and bye catch him up again. When the ground was too stony for tracks, I just sat down and waited for him to return wondering what would happen if he took it into his head to desert me and "go bush."
At one point I was dodging along among some boulders when the footrest hit a stone, and bent back struck the gearbox sprocket, buckling it dangerously, at the same time locking the wheel and sending me sprawling among the stones. I had to make a liberal use of the iodine.
After dismantling the chains and sprocket, I lit a fire and, selecting a large flat stone, pounded the sprocket back into shape once more. The time taken was about an hour and no sign of the guide. Presently I heard the thud of hoofs and he appeared around the bend.
That night we camped at Grave Creek and at tea time I noticed that, as on the previous evening, George, the guide, was not hungry, so I asked him what was wrong.
"Oh nothing," he said, "all day mine been eatem bush plum." As we always went without lunch, I had a sharp appetite in the evening. I said "Where you gettum bush plum." So after tea we wandered round and he showed me the plums. They were like small apples and tasted like a cross between a guava and passion fruit and were certainly very palatable. Once he bent down and picked up a small round nut.
"See that," he said, "When you see that, it show where good food come from tree called sugarbag." I at once wanted to be shown, having doubts about his statement. He went trom tree to tree placing his ear against the trunks until he found the one he was looking for.
"Plenty sugarbag," he said. I asked him why he placed his ear against the trunk, and he pointed above where, from a hole, a number of bees were flying in and out. Placing my own ear against the trunk I could plainly hear the hum of bees. Taking the tomahawk, he commenced slicing the bark for about 2 feet, and when he cut into the inner hollow he laid it bare and scraped the contents on to a flour bag. The stuff was like wax with the flavour of honey and was very nice to eat. After this he showed me some Congo berries and dug up some wild potatoes, growing on the river bank. The blacks are never short of food in the bush and will find it where a white man will starve.
Next day we travelled over similar country and crossed numerous rocky bottomed creeks until we reached our next camp on Blackgin Creek. Every now and then, George would suddenly leave the trail and gallop off with his eyes glued to the ground and would sometimes be absent a quarter of an hour. On returning, he would tell me he had been following wild black tracks. At this camp the petrol petered out, so, leaving the bus, I climbed on the spare horse and we rode 40 miles to Ware Hill for petrol. I made notes of the track as I had no guide when I returned.
At last we crossed the Gorge about half a mile across the steep banks, testing the powers of the horses. George said that this was the regular crossing place so, knowing no motor cycle could get across, I scouted up and down for an easier place without success. It was evident the old bus would have to be carried over in pieces. Satisfied on this point, we proceeded, and camped at Bow Hill. On receiving a gallon of petrol there, we returned with the horses to where the bus was left, having ridden 40 miles that day with the sun at 114 degrees, and camped at the creek. At dawn next day I said good-bye to my guide and travelled in the opposite direction, feeling a little despondent at his departure, for he was an excellent guide and very interesting, but after listing to the last hoof beats of his horse I struck off for Ware Hill and on reaching the Gorge decided at once on the plan of action.
First taking off the loaded carrier, I carried it over to the opposite bank and then realised for the first time the load the little machine was pulling. Next I unbolted the engine and carried that over.
Finally the frame and wheels were brought along and the whole machine reassembled on the over side, but not without breaking two radiating fins off the front cylinder.
In striking for the big hill, I noted on the previous day that we followed the base for some 10 miles until I could see the timber marking the course of the river and struck for the middle of two peaks where I knew was the sandy crossing at the "29-mile yard." The previous day a light fire had been burning, but we had taken little heed of this. Now, as I rounded the bend of the hill where the vast plain stretched before me and through which my way lay, I saw thick volumes of smoke rising above the trees. The fire, which had grown into a raging mass of flames, was sweeping over the great expanse leaving the ground glowing with hot ashes and the air was filled with black smoke almost to obscurity as the leaping flames licked up the dry grass and sunbaked trees.
Charred and smoking logs had fallen across my track and the pad was quite obliterated. Then it was I congratulated on having closely noted the features of the landscape, which made me independent of horse tracks. Not more than 50 yards on my right the fire was raging, so I had to keep on the edge of the plain and go round where the flames were on my direct path.
Dodging around the fire, I made my landmarks every time I left the pad and, when chance offered, cut the pad again. In this manner I forced my way along, the smell of burning wood mingled with the fumes of heated petrol; the burnt ground radiating intolerable heat and with tears blurring my vision, I eventually made the creek and soon after arrived at Ware Hill.
While at the station a 40 lb Barramundi was caught in one of the big water holes. The flesh of this fish is very much prized. In this country I was forced to use a special brand of lubricating oil. I made it myself and any motor cyclist is free to use my recipe. It was a mixture of 6 bottles of Castor Oil, half a gallon of Beef Dripping - which in this country is always liquid - and 2 pints of Windmill Oil. The Douglas, if it noticed the difference never complained. I also travelled 73 miles on kerosene (paraffin) in place of Petrol.
Often in this treeless, waterless, pathless place one has to stop when a water hole is reached and then spend a considerable time tracing the tracks one has been following for the tracks lay in the cattle pads which are the tracks used by the cattle coming in to water, and they radiate from a waterhole in a star fashion.
Anywhere near the water the cattle obliterate all other marks, so the quickest method of rebinding a track is to make a circuit about a mile out from the hole, and when a trail is seen, watch the direction in which it bears and if correct, follow it.
The following morning I left Ware Hill at dawn and arrived at Pigeon Hole in time for Breakfast. Leaving there, I followed rough roads to Victoria River Downs where they received me like the Prodigal Son.
This station is undoubtedly the largest in the world, it embraces an area of 14,000 square miles, larger than the whole of Scotland. From Victoria Downs I was descending a very rugged and stony gorge and though I saw a movement behind a tree, but the track would not permit me to Look round. On reaching the bottom I cast a glance sideways and again caught sight of movement.
Pulling up short, I shouted out and a black appeared with several spears and a tomahawk. What puzzled me most was that instead of being black he was a dirty brown and, as he came up, I see he was covered in brown mud. This was because he had been stalking kangaroo and used the mud as a camouflage, the mud being the same colour as the ground enabling him to crawl closer to his game.
Thirty miles further on I came to a steep creek, and halting on the bank-experience had taught me never to take the bus in unless I could see a path out-I walked down and across the river bed looking for an easier place to cross. After a little searching I decided to go back and cross a little lower down, so turning round to return, I was surprised to see four bucks and three gins and some picaninnies standing right behind me, all smothered with the same brown mud. They were well armed and, as one could speak a little English, I learned they were out of the bush and travelling West for food and game. They had quite a collection of spears, tomahawks and boomerrangs.
I was surprised in a similar manner about 80 miles out of Maranboy when travelling along a road fairly heavy after rain and coming on a large pool of water in the track I circled round it and just as I regained the road my front wheel did a wonderful skid and shot me clean over the handlebars. On regaining my feet, I lifted the machine up and was about to start when I heard laughing and giggling, and looking around, there were two bucks about 10 yards from me, evidently tickled to death and thinking I was stunting for their entertainment. The way these blacks can appear without sound is almost magical. One moment they are not there, and the next they are. There is no doubt one is under closer observation than one is conscious of.
The unusual noise of the fast running open exhaust engine undoubtedly attracted them to have a peep at this strange visitor to their wilderness, and I had convincing evidence of their wonderful powers between Marranboy and Mataraks. I had laid in a good stock of provisions- jam, biscuits, salmon, bread and beef, strapped on behind. I stopped at a waterhole to fill my waterbag, only a few yards away, and on turning again to the machine, my bag of provisions was gone. It must have been taken almost immediately by some watching bucks who feasted while I starved.
On reaching the Victoria River, which was flowing strongly, I decided to ride across, for they told me the bottom was flat and smooth, and tackled it fairly fast in low gear, plunging straight into the swirling waters. Almost immediately the bus left me and plunged me headlong into the swift water.
Springing up, I struggled to the machine and tried to lift her, but helplessly, until by letting the water wash it against a big rock I managed to stand the machine up. The fall was caused by the green slime with which the bottom of the river is covered, and on this slime the tyres had no grip at all. After two more falls, we got across to the far bank.
On approaching the Wickham River, I discovered the far bank was very steep, as the river flows all year round. Profiting by previous experience, I got across without a fall and proceeded to scale the bank. This necessitated running the engine flat out also. Near the top the bank went nearly straight up for about 10 feet, and by exerting all my power I counted on doing it with a little luck. Crossing the steam of course, left my boots full of water, and as I was putting in some last desperate pushes, both feet slipped out of the boots and I was hurled clean down the bank on to the rocks below, recovering from the fall, I looked for the bus and there she was just where I left her. The footrests dug into the heavy soil had anchored it on the spot.
From this point I am going to move ahead fast - on paper - for a detailed description would only be a repetition of the rough riding story, which would weary my readers.
The next station touched was Delamore, and in 100 miles the most northerly point, "The Katherine," was reached. Once again I was in touch with the world by telegraph, the dreaded stretch from Halls Creek was passed, and I was still alive and kicking. The little Douglas seemed as fit as when she left Fremantle, and the wonderful Bates Tyres were practically unmarked and actually unpunctured. Many times had I reason to bless the grand workmanship and material of these two great firms, for my life depended on them.
From the Katherine across the King River - infested with alligators - is 100 miles. Then Marranbor 40 - Hateranka 46 - Daly Waters 125 - Newcastle Waters 110. From Katherine I followed the Adelaide - Darwin telegraph line, which runs south-west to south, and it was a great comfort to have the line for a guide.
From Newcastle Waters I struck east to Anthonye Lagoon -180 miles then 60 to Brunette Downs, and followed the rough stock route on through Alexandria and Rankine to Camooweal. At this last town I said "Good-bye" to the terrible Northern Territory and stepped on to Queensland soil, my troubles at an end.
From now onwards I was on known roads and civilisation. I simply followed the inland route to Brisbane, Sydney, Melbourne and Adelaide - was of a most flattering nature, and while I thoroughly appreciated the kindly wishes behind the receptions, I was glad to have done with them and set my face toward home.
The track from Adelaide to Perth runs through the wilds, but it was known road and has been travelled many times by motorists and motor cyclists. To me it was comparatively easy run, and the Douglas purred along contentedly day by day until on the 14th of March I had the great pleasure of riding down the streets of my native town of Fremantle, and the Douglas registered the last beat, after billions of beats, in front of the Town Hall, which I had left 5 months and 14 days before.
The great journey is finished and I am quietly satisfied with the honour of being the first to do it.
The Douglas and Bates Tyres I cannot give too much honour. Not one spare part was used on the machine which never once failed me and Bates Tyres never once punctured.
A FEW Successes of the 3.48 h.p. Douglas Motor Cycle.
The first and only machine in the world of any power to make a circuit of Australia, over 9,000 miles, without a spare part being needed.
C. Bower won the Durban-Johannesburg on a 3.48 h.p. Douglas, covering the 390 miles at an average speed of 37 m.p.h. over the most gruelling Colonial course.
IN THE RELIABILITY TRIALS -
6 DAYS 1,000 MILES STOCK MACHINES TRIAL : 4 GOLD MEDALS.
One of these Gold Medal Machines was sealed and taken to Brooklands, where it made 350 ascents of the test hill in 346 minutes, and was in perfect order at the finish.
LONDON TO EDINBURGH. 5 Starts. 5 Finishes. 5 GOLD MEDALS.
LONDON - EXTER. 4 GOLD MEDALS.
PARIS - NICE. 2 GOLD MEDALS. 1 SILVER MEDAL.