My mum would have been 10-20 years old in c1920-1930 when this photo was taken. The location for this image is not all that far from where I live. The land around me looks much the same today, as the rivers are in flood, and snakes are known to be plentiful in the flood waters. The road out the front of my Goulburn Valley home is often that flooded.
I recall standing on the running board of a car similar to that one., clinging tight to the door handle as I was driven home from kindergarten. What fun that was,
That lady is some driver. I'd have had the car bogged. I'd say that she in a true bushy, and has got out and walked the road, checking the road ahead is sound, before driving on.
Source: SLV - elevated view of open car on dirt road with water on road, horse drawn vehicle behind. Date created: [c1910-c1930].
Australian Rural-lit, Historical Fiction
by Ryn Shell
This blog writer is author and artist Ryn Shell, creator of stories of crime, mystery, suspense, coming-of-age, love and Australia.
Ryn Shell's Australian rural-lit writing is enhanced by personal experience. A not so peaceful Sunday Drive from the novel, Billabong Dream.
Jarrah looked slowly around at the scenery and occasionally checked the rearview mirror. “That blue car has been following us since we made our last stop.”
“Everyone stops at Katoomba,” Iain said. “If I get a spot to pull over, I’ll let it pass me; I can’t stop here.”
“Did you leave the ute unattended at Katoomba?” Jarrah asked.
“I went to freshen up. Then I went to the public phone box to ring Mrs Kaye. I let her know Lesley and Harry would get to the homestead before us.” Iain glanced at Jarrah. “I guess I was gone for ten minutes. Nothing looked disturbed when I got back.”
Iain slowed down as they approached the parking bay of a large restaurant, but the blue car pulled over to the side of the road and stopped. Iain pulled the truck back on the road and kept driving at a steady, slow speed downhill. “Stupid place for them to stop.”
“Why do you tap your feet on and off the brakes?” Jarrah asked.
“I can’t ride the brake all the way down, or they’d overheat and fail. I’m relying on the lower gears to slow us, and I only use the brakes when I have to.” Iain’s voice was calm, as if driving an overloaded ute down a mountain was an everyday occurrence.
Jarrah watched the scenery during the steep descent. He felt the jolt and fast acceleration of the truck and glanced up, searching for that reassuring look of confidence on Iain’s face.
With his mouth puckered, Iain’s eyes were fixed on the road, his foot hard to the floor. The brake pedal collapsed beneath his foot. He lifted his foot and reapplied pressure. There wasn’t any resistance. His foot plunged to the floor again. He tried to pump the brake pedal; it was a useless, impotent tool. The truck sped downhill towards a hairpin bend on the mountain road, careering faster with each second that passed towards a flimsy guardrail.
Rapidly overlapping his arms, Iain swung the wheel, hand over hand. Leaning inward towards Jarrah, he used the full strength of his body to force the ute to turn, narrowly averting a four-hundred-foot plunge over the edge. The right-side bumper and driver’s side of the ute tore away the guardrail.
Metal screeched. Jarrah clung to the back of the seat and Emily. On the driver side, the rear wheel tottered over the edge as Iain attempted to straighten the ute.
Grim faced, Iain drove, still pumping wildly, hoping to regain pressure in the useless pedal beneath his foot.
With another hairpin bend ahead of him, one he knew he could never steer around, he angled the ute for the cliff wall. “Jarrah—get Em down—in front of me—on floor.”
Jarrah shoved Emily beneath the steering wheel and in front of Iain’s legs. He followed her, trying to wrap himself around her, to protect her as Iain yelled.
“Get down there too, Jarrah. Don’t block my view.”
Iain corrected the steering and missed striking the cliff by a split second. He forced the ute to travel sideways. The rear of the ute fishtailed and slammed into the cliff. Iain went into immediate corrective action.
The truck swung rear first, and one back wheel went over the edge. Three wheels gripped the surface.
Iain accelerated towards the cliff again. He hoped to pull off a sharp, but more controlled, last-moment turn.
Grateful for the reassuring feel of children pressed against his legs as contact with the cliff ripped off the passenger side of the ute’s cabin, Iain wrenched the wheel to bring the passenger side wheels into the deep gutter.
Pain soared up his arms and into his chest. He forced his arms ridged, holding himself against the back of the ute’s seat to avoid being slung out of the windscreen. “Are you alright?”
The two rapid replies helped him breathe—but, the pain—it felt as if he’d broken bones in his arms and ribs. He felt the searing pain of burning skin; sparks and metal fragments flew into the vehicle with him. He couldn’t see anything aside from sparks.
Iain struggled blindly to turn the wheel away from the cliff as the bonnet was ripped back, tearing the windshield and bonnet back and over the top of the tied-down furniture. As the outer wheels dragged the ute out of the gutter, Iain regained visibility.
On two crushed wheel hubs, the truck continued to jolt and hurtle along as Iain corrected the pull away from the cliff. They scraped along, gouging the road surface as the ute dragged sideways. Iain maintained an opposing pull on the wheel until they approached a driveway.
He steered the ute off the highway, up the drive, then as the ute moved up the hill towards the mountainside home, he succumbed to the pain in his arms and chest and stopped fighting for control. The ute slung sideways into a bog of long grass and jonquils.
“Are you two all right?” The acrid smoke from burning metal burnt Iain’s throat as he spoke.
Jarrah’s head popped up. “I’m all right.” He turned Emily’s face towards his.
She popped up smiling. “I’m all right. That was fun.”
Jarrah and Iain exchanged strained looks.
A small crowd gathered and reached in the ute to assist. Jarrah lifted Emily through the space which had once been the passenger door into the waiting arms of a kindly looking woman.
Iain opened his driver side door. Jarrah slid across the seat and followed him out. In stunned silence, they both inspected the damage to the bonnet, shredded passenger side and the ruined wheel hubs.
“There’s a bloke who can do wonders with refurbishing wrecks.” A man in his sixties stepped forward.
“This better not be a wreck.” Iain patted what remained of the ute’s bonnet. “She’s still got to get us and this load of furniture to Fife Springs.”
“Frank’s my name. This is Fernglade. Me and Maude here.” He put an arm around the grey-haired woman beside him. “We were thinking of opening up a bed and breakfast joint. How’d you like to sample the place?”
“I think you have your first guests.” Iain rested one arm on the intact side of his ute and extended his free hand to Frank. “I’m Iain. These are my niece and nephew, Emily and Jarrah.”
The grey-haired man nodded a greeting at the children then went back to checking the ute. “You were bloody lucky, mate.” Frank looked up, holding the brake cable in his hand. “Your blooming brake cable’s been cut through.”