Inducted into the Shell Rimula Wall of Fame at ReUnion 2000.
"I thought it the cruellest and most inhumane world it was possible to conceive. Little did I guess that within the next days I would be introduced to worlds' still more desolate and terrifying"
So wrote an English journalist in 1930 after travelling the Birdsville track in a mail car. For the likes of Harry Ding, it was just another day's work. From a very young age Harry delivered supplies by horse to outlying stations.
By 1930, working from his parents' store in Yunta, he was using motorised transport to deliver mail to remote places in his contracted 500,000 square kilometre area. His routes stretched the unmade tracks from the tributaries of the Diamantina River near Birdsville, across the gibber plains of Sturt's Stoney Desert and to Yunta in the south. It was a run that tested the men who drove it and pushed their machines to the limit. The creeks flooded, the sand dunes drifted and dust storms obliterated tracks. It was, in Harry's words, the world's worst country for wheeled vehicles.
Breakdowns meant you either had to fix it on the spot or walk for hundreds of miles. Harry was aware that some form of communication was essential to safeguard his men. He contacted Alfred Traeger (who had earlier designed radios for the Flying Doctor network) and commissioned him to produce a small portable radio for his trucks. A network of radios was soon established between stations and trucks and Yunta. This was the first contact these people had with the outside world.
Harry's business reached its peak with nine mail runs, twenty trucks and four depots along the route and in 1944 Harry sold up and moved to Wilcannia. The legendary Harry Ding died in 1976 having literally opened the outback to the world.