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12 March 1916 First car to Birdsville

 12 March 1916   First car to Birdsville

On 12 March 1916 a Model T Ford left Glenelg, with five adults, three children and a pile of luggage, bound for Birdsville. The driver was Joseph Kelly, an employee of Ford agents Duncan and Fraser, who undertook to drive the owner, Jack Gaffney, licensee of the Birdsville hotel, and his family, in the new vehicle up the notorious Birdsville track. 

On the way to Beltana the party had to cope with washouts and creek crossings. Beyond Marree the going became even heavier, through trackless, deep sand. The ladies in their fashionable long coats began to look completely out of place. Further along the way, towards the Cooper Creek, the going was even rougher and strewn with stones. More sandhills had to be crossed, but at Mulka, due east of central Lake Eyre, a race meeting was being held, so the party had a short respite and attended the ball held in the evening. 

More rough tracks, floodwaters and sandhills had to be negotiated. At one point a horse team from a nearby station pulled the car out of the Koonchera sandhills. Finally, after 1200 tortuous kilometres, they reached Birdsville. The only problem with the car was one puncture.

Lois Litchfield, Marree and the track beyond in black and white, 1983, pp. 54-55, (Excerpt from Stuart Nicol, Bullock Tracks and Bitumen , RAA, 1978.)

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