LINDSLEY, John (Big Bad)

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Inducted into the Shell Rimula Wall of Fame at ReUnion 2011.

John (Big Bad) Lindsley was born in Exmouth, England and moved to India as a young child in 1939. His father was a Colonel in the British Army. When India was granted its independence the family decided to move to Australia instead of returning to the cold, miserable, wet weather of England. John’s father went into partnership and set up the Murchison Garage in Victoria. Although John sometimes helped out at the garage, his first job on leaving school was sorting mail at the local post office. John eventually returned to the garage to learn mechanical work.

When John turned 18 he took a job with Commonwealth Railways maintaining the famous Old Ghan narrow gauge railway. His first job was to operate a rope dragline on the railway line between Port Augusta and Marree. After that he progressed to driving the bucket loader. John’s job was to pull up the track and load it on a railway carriage. He remembers being amazed at the strength of the men he worked alongside who would break the bolted-on rail joiners with two great hits of an 18 pound sledge hammer. John tried it once and jarred both his hands.

After that John joined MacMahon Construction and initially worked around Adelaide sub-divisions as a labourer. He then took a job as a loader operator on a road gang. In those days the road camp would consist of a line, stretched between two poles which were used as a centre piece for a row of A-frame tents. John also worked for a time launching weather balloons and collecting data for NASA and for the landing of the first man of the moon in1969. They had to tether 140ft diameter balloons and then let them rise to 5000 feet on cable and bring them down again without damaging any of the electronics. On one occasion he had to mend over 600 little holes in the balloon.

John travelled to remote areas all over the Northern Territory and South Australia working on the construction of just about every bridge, road, pipeline, air strip and railway throughout Central Australia. MacMahons were always secure in sending John to the most remote of places because they knew he could look after himself and would look after the equipment. John went on to work for MacMahon Construction for thirty years until his retirement in 2003. Since then John has managed the restoration workshops at the National Road Transport Hall of Fame