Monday, January 31, 2011

Around Australia the Hard Way in 1929...a brief look at the trip of Jack Bowers and Frank Smith....

Motorcycle travel books have a fascination for me...regular viewers of my blog will recall my wife and my overland trip from Australia in 1974
http://velobanjogent.blogspot.com/2008/04/overland-to-europe-by-motorcycle-in.html
 and Robert Fulton Jnr's epic ride in 1932 and written up in his "One Man Caravan" which I reviewed earlier...
http://velobanjogent.blogspot.com/2009/04/one-man-caravanrobert-fulton-jnrs-epic.html
I've many others...."Three Wheeling Through Africa" by J.C.Wilson (1937);    "Nansen Passport" by I.S.K.Soboleff (1936);  "Across Europe with Satanella" by Claire Sheridan (1925); "From Leipzig to Cabul" by G. Stratil-Sauer (1924);"Around the world with Motorcycle and Camera" by Eitel and Rolf Lange (1953);  "Two up by Scooter to Australia"  by Michael Marriott (1960); "Three Lands on Three Wheels"  by Jan and Cora Gordon (1932);  "Australia through the Windscreen"  by William Hatfield (1939)...not motorcycling, but interesting anyhow...and the list goes on.
Of course we have the DVD's today of the guys Ewan McGregor and Charley Boorman riding around the world on BMW's...and I may seem sarcastic, but they had a TV cameraman with a backup vehicle , they had mobile 'phones and heaps of support...
So this blog features the first circumnavigation by "road", well if you can call it a road, by Harley Davidson motorcycle and sidecar in 1929 around mainland Australia....
"Around Australia The Hard Way in 1929" written by Jack L. Bowers, one of the two who started out from the GPO in Sydney on 4th July 1929, the other being Frank Oakley Smith  ( who had passed away by the time Bowers had his book published in 1995).
I acknowledge the copyright of the book held by Jack L. Bowers....
Left click on the images to enlarge....


Where might you get these books...? If you are lucky some public libraries may have copies , Ebay is a possible source and visiting second hand bookshops and book fairs when you get the chance.
The book I'm reviewing may well be available from the publisher, who's details are on the flyleaf below.
Jack Bowers and Frank Smith set off riding anti clockwise and thus northwards from Sydney....
I'll follow their progress in a generalised view via some of the photographs from Jack's book...




Dinner on the banks of the Barcoo River in Central Queensland.
The road near Cloncurry, Central Western Queensland.
A "general overhaul" at the No.19 bore, Alexandria cattle station, Northern Territory.

The Katherine to Darwin road in 1929 and in 1995....







The finish, 11 weeks later....at the Sydney GPO on 21st September 1929.
A read of the second last page of Jack's book says it all...
In 1958, Sydney motorcyclists Graham Felton and John Sinclair rode a 1942 UL model Harley around Australia, following in Bowers and Smiths wheel tracks.
Then again in 2008 to raise money for Ageing and Alzheimer's disease research they did motorcycle ride using the same outfit from 1958, putting in 11,470km, not quite as far or the same route as their's and Bowers and Smiths route, but an epic anyhow.
I played in a traditional jazz quartet to welcome them back with many others on 20th July 2008.
The cover of the leaflet to promote their latter ride follows....
Hard men all of them.....



3 comments:

Anonymous said...

Mr Quinlan,

there are some similar quite interesting story's of early motorcycle travel in Australia on the Vintage Motorcycle Club of WA's web site which can be found here:

http://www.vmccwa.com/stories/stories.htm

regards,
Nick

Anonymous said...

ps: i forgot to say thanks for the blog and especially for the book recommendations, I have just ordered Robert Edison Fulton's One Man Caravan and Around Australia the Hard Way in 1929 through booko.com.au

I'm nearly finished Dreaming of Jupiter by Ted Simon, the story of one man and his Triumph Tiger T100. 103,000 km's through 45 countries around the world, it's a fantastic account and beautifully written.

I think my dad is beginning to worry I may be considering taking my '52 BSA B33 around the world & I'm beginning to worry I am actually considering it.

-Nick

smithd said...

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