The Road Ahead : December 2012
ROADAHEAD.COM.AU THE ROAD AHEAD DEC 2012/JAN 2013 22 LIFESTYLE QUEENSLAND INTERVIEW Q. How did recreating the drive come about? A. As a Qantas pilot, I knew the history behind the formation of the airline. So, with the anniversary coming up, I put it to a few mates in the club (Brad Wesener, George Schoenauer, Russell Nieass and Gavin Pocock) that we should build a car and see if we could recreate the drive. So, it grew out of a desire. Q. How close to original was 'Molly'? A. She was basically a museum piece, so needed to be stripped back to the chassis and new parts put in. But everything wasasona1919ModelT,withafew exceptions: a distributor instead of four individual coils, for example. Q. 'Molly' suffered very few mechanical failures on the drive. Did this surprise you? A. She went well. The biggest problem was the body starting to come apart due to the big corrugations from the B Doubles -- they weren't around in Fysh's and McGinness's time! We had more of a problem with the four-wheel-drive support vehicles and trailers. Q. The RACQ was one of your supporters. Tell us about the Club's involvement? A. The RACQ helped at a personal and corporate level. Patrol Officer Grant Dawson accompanied the drive and proved invaluable in helping keep our support vehicles going. Q. What were the high points of the drive? A. Getting out in the scrub and finding the places Fysh had written about in his book, Qantas Rising. We came upon a creek crossing that had brought them unstuck. That was very special. Q. And the lowlights? A. The heat. After a while, it started getting to us and we ended up being pretty short with each other. Q. Did having a documentary film crew add to the complexity of the drive? A. Oh yeah! Apart from the intrusion of cameras, we had to often go over things again so that the scene might be re-shot. All that took time. Q. Describe the moment of driving into Darwin at the end of the trek? A. A mix of elation and surrealism. We were happy to have made it, but sorry that it was all over. I rang Pauline (Cottrill, the 81-year-old daughter of McGinness) and Wendy (Miles, the 79-year-old daughter of Fysh) and shared what was a very special moment. Q. How close do you think you got authenticating the original drive? A. It was as close to the original route as we could make it. Some of the areas hadn't been crossed in many years. But, in our instance, we had GPS, a satellite phone and back-up support that we could call on. Q. If you had your time over, what would you change? A. It would be good to have just three guys in a car and be about 20 years younger! I would have loved to have been on the original drive with Fysh and McGinness. IN 1919, TWO returned World War 1 fliers -- Lieutenants Hudson Fysh and Paul McGinness -- set off from Longreach for Darwin via the remote Gulf Country in a Model T Ford. Their task: to search for suitable landing fields for entrants in the great England to Australia air race. On the 2200 km trek, as the hardship of living in the largely-unexplored and isolated outback hit home, the necessity of a quicker, more functional type of transport to overcome the tyranny of distance became apparent. Out of this, the concept of the Queensland and Northern Territory Aerial Services (Qantas) was born. In 2009, Qantas pilot and RACQ member Don Hill and fellow members of the Model T Owners Queensland set out to commemorate the 90th anniversary of this epic drive in 'Molly', a Model T loaned by the Qantas Outback Founders Museum. Despite the advancement of time and technology, the challenge they and their support team faced was considerable. Below, Don Hill recalls the drive with Barry Green. A DVD, Living the Dream, the complete story of the two great drives, has recently been released. RRP $19.95. livingthedreamofwheelstowings.com *The Road Ahead and publishers Pictorial Press Australia have four sets containing the DVD, the Sir Hudson Fysh Trilogy of books and a copy of The Man Australia Forgot (McGinness's biography) to give away. See bottom of page for details. living the dream IMAGE: DON HILL AND HIS OWN MODEL T FORD (PHOTO: MARK BUCHANAN). *TO ENTER, GO TO ROADAHEAD.COM.AU/WIN/LIVINGTHEDREAM.