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Title: Trek to Darwin - 1941
Name: Smith, Tom
My Story: The next phase of our "trek" to Darwin was by truck on a dirt road. Trucks travelled a fair distance apart because of the volumes of red dust created. The trucks used were covered wagons but these were soon converted to open air. We had two alternatives. Either we travelled in discomfort under cover or in the open and be smothered in red dust. We chose the latter and welcomed the shower at each night stop. Lunches were already cut prior to leaving and managed to survive the dust. Stops overnight were made at Barrow Creek, Banka and Elliot before we eventually reached Larrimah - the Territory's southern rail terminus. As we arrived at each destination, the trucks were parked in a circle. A canvas sheet was taken from one of the trucks and unrolled. The mobile two-up school had been erected and was ready for action as night fell. The shower was very welcome and the evening meal was enjoyable. As the sun went down the truck lights were put on and the place was really illuminated. The big game had begun. For the smaller fry like Tom, there was a portable "Ins and Outs" game in progress, where hard won pennies and half pennies were risked. Still, in spite of the small wage of the army man, there was very little to spend it on, so such a game was harmless. When he first arrived at Warradale, Tom had made an allotment to his mother and sisters, which was subsidised by the Government. Even now Tom was able to exist on what money he was receiving. When the games were concluded the canvas was rolled up and placed on a truck. All trucks then re-charged their batteries ready for next morning's trip. The ritual was repeated at each of the stage points. The scenery changed repeatedly, and as we approached our final stage, we travelled in tropical country. Heavily timbered areas cut down on the dirt menace experienced over the past few days. The party did not stay overnight at Larrimah, but boarded the train on our arrival. At Katherine there was a reasonable stop over. Word had passed around that showers were available about 200 yards from where the train stopped. The boys had also been told that all women in the Northern Territory had been evacuated. Some of the chaps left for the showers carrying their towels, and stark naked. The more cautious group wrapped their towels around them. As they passed the main trading store in Katherine, a young lass (probably late teens) emerged from the Trading Post with her father before returning home to Broome. She was naturally startled to see many male specimens in the flesh and they were startled to see a young woman still in the Territory. She took it all calmly, and with a happy smile, waved hello to them as they passed.
Appears in Collections:Territory Times Gone By

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