Inducted into the Shell Rimula Wall of Fame at ReUnion 2005.English born Gordon Stanion arrived in Australia in 1952 after serving in the war. With not many prospects in England he decided to come to Australia on a working holiday. After spending a few months in the southern states he hitch-hiked to Alice Springs to look for work.
There was just one job going at the time; the Royal Mail from the Alice Springs railhead to the Larrimah railhead and back each week. For some years there was a narrow gauge railway line running south from Darwin for 314 miles to Larrimah. It was known as “The Spirit of Protest”.
Gordon drove a Foden, which brought over five tons of mail from Alice Springs and met the Spirit of Protest at Larrimah. It had a “Guy” 4-cylinder diesel engine and the trailer part had been used for passengers as well as freight by Len Tuit. Sometimes the Spirit of Protest broke down on the way south of Darwin, and so the Royal Mail had to be driven on from Larrimah to Darwin, making the whole journey from Alice Springs 954 miles. The mail bags came from all over Australia. They were for Darwin and other small communities en route. At Tennant Creek, half way to Larrimah, Gordon had to collect Queensland’s mail bags which had come by road from the east. Driving up “the bitumen” (the Stuart Highway) presented no problems. The vehicle’s engine was governed at 40 mph and there were very few bends in the road. Gordon would put his feet up, put a brick on the accelerator and read.
On occasion, Gordon had to drive on from Larrimah another 314 miles to Darwin when the Spirit of Protest had problems and broke down. As he had unloaded the mail on arrival in Larrimah a couple of days earlier, he would then have to reload it all, by hand, unload all the mail from Darwin and store it in Larrimah then set off to Darwin. On arrival in Darwin he would unload the mail and return straight away on the 640 mile trip to Alice Springs remembering to reload the mail he stored at Larrimah. It was these times that the pressure was on because it meant that the south going mail (waiting in Larrimah) was four days late in leaving before Gordon got back to Larrimah to collect it.
Gordon did go back to England and complete his teacher’s degree. He retired in 2005 and lives in London with fond memories of his days as an outback mailman.