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Home > Travelogues > 2008 Travelogues Index > Alice Springs Transport Hall of Fame
Alice Springs 2008.  We spend a day at the National Road Transport Hall of Fame to see history of motoring and trucking in Australia and the history of the Ghan railway in an adjacent display.   

National Road Transport Hall of Fame

To the south of the town is the National Road Transport Hall of Fame.  Over a large area, there is not only the Hall of Fame of truck drivers through the years, but an extensive display of vehicles of all types.  The collection is being added to as more vehicles are restored.  The day we were there, truck drivers from all over Australia had gathered for the annual induction of new members into the Hall of Fame. 

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Some of the longest ever road trains are pictured in one of the museum’s many rooms.

A road train photographed in 1999 at The World’s Longest Road Train Challenge in Merredin in Western Australia. 

This has 45 trailers and is 610 metres long, powered by a Kenworth K1000 G and 565 HP Cummins motor.  It travelled for eight kilometres. 

 

Another road train had 79 trailers, weighed 1,072 tonne and was 1,018 metres long, powered by a Kenworth C50IT with 600 HP Cummins motor.  This also travelled for eight kilometres. 

Road train working at The Granites mine in the Tanami.  The photo was taken in 2003 and is called the world’s biggest road train with six trailers and weighing 400 tonne, with 150 wheels and 100 metres long.

Photos of “the big lift” of cattle from Helen Springs Station are on display.  In 2001, 2452 head of cattle were taken by road train from Helen Springs Station to the north of Alice Springs to Darwin, by seventeen triple road trains. 

The Kenworth Dealer Hall of Fame features a display of Kenworth trucks from the first in Australia to the present models.

Another collection of items being restored to make the displays even bigger and better.

A lovely old blue Ford truck was being restored in the workshop, as was the wooden panelled deliver truck. 

The Mulga Express, displayed on Big Bertha. 

Kurt also created the Mulga Express, a 1972 Dodge wagon powered by gas created from burning mulga wood.  He used it during the 1980s for exploration and touring in remote areas

This Landrover was used by Harry Lasseter's son Robert on numerous expeditions from 1966 to 1978, when seeking clues as to Harry Lasseter’s journeys. 

Lasseter then travelled abroad, and it was not until after the War that he again tried to locate the reef.  Although he went back in 1918, it was not until 1930 that he recorded in his diary the re-discovery.  During his return, his camels bolted and left him stranded near the present day Docker River.  Friendly Aboriginals salvaged some of his belonging which had fallen from the bolting camels, and Lasseter camped in a small cave alongside the Hull River bed.  Suffering dysentery, he stayed at the cave for around two months.  Before leaving, he buried his diary in the cave.  In weakened health he set out to walk to Mount Olga in the harsh mid summer conditions.  He died about 50 kilometres east of the cave. 

 

Although many people believe that the find was not real or even part of a fraudulent plan, Lasseter’s family still believe in the find, and are searching for the truth.  A recent (2010) ABC radio report tells of Lasseter’s son Bob’s beliefs. 

 

Read Lasseter's Reef is Real

This 1926 Ford Model T Runabout was entirely assembled in the Geelong Victoria Ford Factory.  The Runabout was powered by a four cylinder side valve engine with 176.7 cubic inch displacement.  It was rated at twenty horsepower and produced a top speed of 45 miles per hour. 

Old Ghan Heritage Railway and Museum

At the same location as the National Road Transport Hall of Fame, but with a separate entrance, is the small Old Ghan Railway Museum.  It is at the site of the former MacDonnell railway siding. 

 

A section of the line has been retained from Alice Springs to the MacDonnell Siding and a heritage tourist train takes visitors along this eight kilometre stretch of line.  

Harry Lasseter discovered a gold reef in 1897, when as a seventeen year old he travelled alone from Alice Springs to the west coast with two horses.

Crossing the desert his two horses died, he was only saved when an Afghan sandalwood cutter rescued him and took him to the camp of a surveyor by the name of Harding, somewhere in Western Australia.  When he showed Harding the samples of gold from the reef he had discovered, Harding was keen to go back right away, but they did not do so for three years, when he and Harding re-located the reef.  Due to the gold boom in Coolgardie and Kalgoorlie, they were unable to finance development of the find.

With roomy seating inside, a bar, a large kitchen, travel would have been luxurious.  Walking on the open area at the rear of the train, it was easy imagine being on the train heading along the track in its heyday.  

1980 saw first service on new standard gauge line between Tarcoola and Alice Springs and last services on the old line.  With the new line taken further to the west, the problems of the Finke River were no longer encountered.

In addition to the opportunity to walk through an old train, there are several rooms of Ghan history and memorabilia in the museum. The first Ghan train ran between Port Augusta and Alice Springs in August 1929.  Over the years, the Finke River bridge was destroyed by floods on two occasions, and sand drifts blocking the line was a constant problem. 

Lounge and bar on the train.

Stainless steel kitchen.

The dining area. 

Colourful stain glass window over the bar.

Carvings on this table top on display in the museum were done by an inmate of the Alice Springs prison to celebrate the Ghan railway. The work is beautiful.

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Big Bertha was the first motorised road train that had any real significance in central Australia. One of the remarkable features with it is that it is self tracking - which means that it follows exactly in the tracks of its prime mover and it is built from World War One scrap. 

Built by Kurt Johannsen, the fifty metre truck and trailer took over from cameleers and stock droving.  In 1948, it transported the first 74 head of cattle to be trucked to Alice Springs from the Barkly Tableland.  Kurt built and operated three road trains.  Read more about this amazing man here
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