OUTBACK EDUCATION IN THE ‘NOT TOO DISTANT’ PAST Warburton Ranges (WA) in 1970 (10)

Vehicles were very much a part and parcel of the Warburton Ranges scene. Most once purchased and returned to Warburton, did not last a particularly long time. They were driven and driven until they could be driven no more. Some, in fact many did not make it back to Warburton or if being driven from Warburton to other destinations, did not complete their journeys. The Outback Road (then much more of a track) was dotted with abandoned vehicles dumped and left adjacent to the road. Some were burnt out, most stripped of parts but all were left to weather in the heat of summer and the cold of winter months.

I remember the Docker River Truck. It was bought with money that had been part of a settlement by Western Mining toward a local elder, when he sold his promising chrysoprase mine to the company. The mine was about five kilometres from Warburton, located just off the track to the east of the settlement. The Docker Truck a brand new two ton vehicle, was so named because after purchase, it made several trips from Warburton to Docker and back.

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This was prior to our arrival at Warburton in 1970. By then the truck, undriveable and beyond economic repair, was outside the southern fence of the school. It had resisted just over 3,000 miles on the odometer. The value of vehicles, once purchased, depreciated immediately. Lives of most were were very short.

There was an exception to this rule. Someone bought a yellow Holden FJ sedan. It went and went and went and went! It had an unstoppable motor, notwithstanding that oil used to top up the engine was generally second hand lubricant that had been drained from elsewhere. The engine mounting wore out from fatigue and from travel over bone shattering tracks and terrain. So the engine was held in place by green, forked sticks cut from trees that grew at some distance from Warburton.

They vehicle changed hands at regular intervals and each time sold for more than the price for which it had been purchased by the vendor. The Holden defied all odds and just kept on going. Obviously it had an end point in useful life but what a vehicle it was. It went far, far further than the distance ever travelled by the Docker Truck. It also offered a quite everlasting memory that shows what can happen when odds and averages are defied.

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