McGARRITY, Ted

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Inducted into the Shell Rimula Wall of Fame at ReUnion 2003.

Young Ted McGarrity joined the A.I.F. in late 1941 and headed off part way to Darwin on the legendary Old Ghan train.  On arriving at the Alice Springs railhead, military and other personnel passengers were transferred to trucks with 14 in each truck.  There were no seats to sit on making it a pretty rough ride on the old dirt road between Alice and Darwin.

The only reprieve was with overnight stops at Elliott, Banka Banka, Mataranka and occasionally other staging camps if he had a good excuse to stop in for an hour or two.

On reaching Birdum, the troops were unceremoniously unloaded from the trucks and continued by rail to Darwin.  That trip was done in cattle wagons that had half of the sides taken off enabling resting arms on the top rail for the standing journey.  After about three weeks of travel, Ted went into the 140th Aust. General Transport Co and spent the next three years driving convoys between Alice Springs and Darwin.  He was then sent south to Dandenong in the middle of winter where he spent the rest of his army life carting army stores.

After the war he took a job driving interstate and was surprised the truck was an ex-army Chev Blitz with a 26' bogie trailer with single 10 x 50 x 20 singles.  It was a bit early to obtain new trucks at the time, so the ex-army trucks played a big part in the early days of interstate transportation.  Likewise, the driving skills so many ex-servicemen had been given while in the army gave them a trade for civilian life.  As time passes, new trucks appeared and Ted drove many of them at one time or another, particularly along the Old Hume Highway.  None of these trucks had any braking power.  "Well nothing worth talking about," said Ted.

"So low gear had to be used going up one side of the hill and low gear going down the other side so you did not need brakes except on the flat.  That's why you travelled at 20 mph."

Ted McGarrity lived alonside the Hume Highway when he retired.  He listened in disbelief to the big, modern rigs fly past his house.