KING, John (Jack) Lawrence

10_king_john_jack_lawrence_1 10_king_john_jack_lawrence_2

Inducted into the Shell Rimula Wall of Fame at ReUnion 2010.

Jack King was born John Lawrence King, on 2nd June 1907, in Albury, NSW. He was a professional bicycle rider, and started his riding career at Sandringham Bicycle Club.

He became a close friend of Basil Nixon, another young rider at the club. In 1928, Basil and Jack attempted to break a long standing marathon ride around Australia held by H McKay. Their attempt failed, as Basil Nixon accidently shot himself in the leg.

On January 31, 1928, their story to Darwin, written by Basil Nixon, was front page in the Northern Territory Times. Jack King decided to make the Northern Territory his home, and in 1931 married Ruby Jane Smith, a local Garindgi Girl. There were lots of opportunity in the Territory and Jack knew he’d have to steer something other then his Malvern Star bicycle to get ahead. Once he got to the Territory Jack looked for employment as a heavy transport driver and eventually started driving in the outback with Noel Healey of Dunmurra. Jack went on to drive a variety of trucks over the years, many of them under the legendary DD Smith who was head of the then Department of Interior. Later on, just as World War Two was coming to an end, Jack became one of the few drivers of the original AEC Government Roadtrain.

There are many tales of ingenuity and bush mechanics performed by the drivers of those first road trains as they travelled the unmade tracks of what was then described as the “Territory Wastelands”. An example is that when Jack first drove to Waterloo Station and arrived at the top of a steep ‘jump up’, he felled a tree and chained it on the back, to supplement the brakes. Jack really was “King of the Road” as he travelled the Northern Territory outback and the deserts of central Australia, first on a two-wheeled Malvern Star, and then later in the eight-wheeled AEC Government Roadtrain.