No corrections yet
I Truth A bout ty Track I
Station-Manager's Wife Carries Gun
For Protection Against Thieves
BECAUSE of the damage wrought on Madura Station
by destructive overlander^, the station-manager's wife carries a revolver with her as protection against thieves, while her husband is away.
This fact was revealed by well-known motorist Mr. Aubrey Melrose when he returned from his seventh overland trip during the week.
/'Vandals have been responsible for incalculable damage on the track," he said. "Signposts have been ruined, ail-too infrequent water tanks damaged beyond repair, and all manner of articles have been stolen from the hospitable station owners."
Several years ago, Mr. Melrose said,, the Maduran Station home- stead was burnt down by a party of overlanders-for no reason at
"When I called at this station, the manager's wife came out sus- piciously, with her hand resting on a revolver. She recognised me and welcomed me very hospitably.
"Her husband was away at the time," Mr. Melrose continued,, "mustering sheep, and she was seared, not by any false fears, but because of the thefts and the damage by other cverlanders.
Vandals Burn --Car-_
"The woman then told me of a reeent case of appalTng vandal- ism. A Kalgoorlie man recently .visited the station, and stayed there for some- time.
"He wanted to go on a tour of inspection of the property, and before leaving by horseback was advised to hide his new car. He drove it up a sandhill, and camouflaged it with bushes.
"When he returned for it later, however, he found all the acces- sible parts had been removed, and the car had been deliberately set
Mr. Melrose said this is only one of the many cars along the track that provided proof of the in- human actions of some af the overlanders.
"Of the people who make thc trip," he said, "some are so poor they haven't even food, or re- ceptacles for water One man I saw was driving a ramshackle sedan that haa no windscreen in it and had old worn-out tyreá strarioed all around the car.
"The 800-mile lourney can be a veritable Hell for anybot-v who cannot comolv with these four essentials before setting out. Perfect health- a sound and well equipped car. a aood mechanical knowledoe. and the ability to nay one's way."
COMMENTING on the
overland track, Mr. Melrose said that for years it has steadily deteriorated; now it is in a shocking condition, as a result of cyclonic storms during which as mueh as six Inches of rain has fallen in one day.
'TRIALS of the
overland are evident in the top p i ct ure, which shows ma- jor repairs being made to a dam- aged caravan chassis and a dingo trapper's waggon in the
middle of the
dreaded Balla donia-Eucla sec- tion of the track. On the left Mr. A. G. Me Irose is seen stand- ing beside a wording of which has been totally obliterated 'b y vandals, a c tion which may bring untold sufferings on some innocent overlander.
Roaring water has cut deep holes along the track, and in parts it is 'almost impassable. Axles and other parts of sturdy cars have been smashed like matchwood on these parts.
"The 350-miie stretch from Balladonia to Eucla is probably the world's longest inhospitable motor track. There is no petrol supply, no food supply, and only at a few intervals any tanks for drinking water; almost without exception these tanks are either polluted with dead and rotting dingoes, thrown in by vandals, or are almost empty is a result of a few 'well-placed' bullet-holes.
'"It is along this stretch that many overlanders have perished, and many have had miraculous escapes from death.
"In my own experience, I can say I have encountered motorists or cyclists attempting the hazard- ous journey almost crazed by hanger and thirst, and the terrible climatic privations."
Miles Without _Food_
Mr. Melrose added that even at Eucla only petrol is available, and altogether there is a distance of 475 miles without any decent store or provision for food.
"Out of the thousands of mo- torists who make the overland
journey each year," he said, "many undertake the trip, little knowing the hardship« that face
"They have been misinformed, especially by certain authorities m the Eastern States who declare tnt, track s 'quite good.' lt is
these people who ought to make the trip themselves to find out just what conditions are really like.
"At a comparatively small cost the Commonwealth Government could cover the 800-mile stretch witE a road that could be used for a variety of purposes.
- Continent -
"There are millions of tons of ideal road material along the track, and with several gangs of workmen the rough stretches of road, such as the Madura Pass, could be straightened out, and then there would be a link of good road between Geraldton and Bris- bane.
"Think how valuable that would be from a strategic military point of view, and from the point of tourist traffic!"
of his trip, Mr. Mel- rose said that travelling during the heat-wave, the fuel lines of his car vaporised and water had to be constantly poured on to them, and the heat of the engius was almost unbearable.
On the trip back to Perth, Mr. Melrose met a cyclist, who was without food or water, and in an isolated part of the desert.
The man had covered only one hundred miles in five da.vs. and was almost in a state of sheer exhaustion.
"In the seven trips I have undertaken, I have never encoun- tered any trouble myself," Mr.
Melrose said, "but I have seen others suffering from more than a fair share,
"No wonder overlander*1 die from starvation or thirst when they do not even go properly pre- pared for one of the most haz- ardous journeys in the world."
As a result of meeting an old dingo trapper and nioneer of the outback, Mr. Harry Webb, Mr. Melrose learnt how to get water from the mots of trees,
"This seemed to me an impossi- bility," he said, "but Mr. Webb showed me how the natives Jo it, and after his exhibition it looked quite easy. This chap ie a re- markable personality. He has been in the outback for countless years, and is known * to every
native within hundreds of miles.'
"He told me he purchased at the cost of ?12/10/, 200 miles of disused telegraph lim along the overland track-and he's selling back to the Federal Government porcelain insulators at sixpence each!
"Harry Webb also told me that many overlander^ have died of thirst, although there has been an ample supply of water fit for drinking but a few feet away.
"He said at the foot of each steel telegraph pole a small catchment area has been formed, and in this space is about five gallons of water/'
THE reaction to the over
.= ^" Juders^is not uniform
at all stations.
At some stations all visitors are welcomed, despite the inis deeds of some of the "black sheep" of the motorists; other station owners are seriously thinking of shifting their station homesteads, or altering the course of the track so they will not be pestered by unwelcome
"I really ean't blame these people," Mr. Melrose added. "The
Commonwealth Government would be undertaking a national service in making a proper road through the Nullarbor Plain, and fitting out service stations at every 50 miles."