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Beer Sparks and Trams.

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Author Topic: Beer Sparks and Trams.  (Read 167 times)
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« on: October 28, 2008, 10:53:06 am »

We were in the Shafston Hotel Perth enjoying a quiet drink. Bill and I had unloaded, the trucks parked neatly across the road. Perth was an easy city for us being the most isolated capital city in the world, they were very casual, not like back east.
We had just arrived yesterday after a 3000 mile grind from Sydney 1000 miles of it over the Nullarbor Plain.
That 1000 miles is one desolate bit of country.A sandy track in the dry (mostly) but a canal of water if it rains (sometimes). You see the two states that are responsible for it only grade it once every six months. So what ever happens has to wait till next time the grader comes through. If it rains too bad, if the wombats dig huge holes too bad, if the wind whips up ridges that would shake you teeth out too bad.
We were some of the early ones to pioneer this bloody awful track. The year by the way was 1955.
No towns no people just a few stations (ranches) well off the track usually and their land was counted in square miles not acres. They had fence lines that ran for hundreds of miles with a gate across the track to keep the stock seperated that they wouldnt see for months. The gates had to be opened and shut by us on the way through. Even a little thing like that caused trouble sometimes. because the track narrowed at the gates, over time it became like beach sand, and easy to get dry bogged. If it was muddy from rain same thing .
We learnt to stop two trailer lengths back and walk up to the gate, open it walk back, all the time keeping the eye open for death adders, if bitten you were dead. It may be two days before anyone came along and then again maybe longer. One day , two days, a week it was goodbye anyway. That's why I always carried a .45 Colt pistol. I hated snakes. Wrong I was scared of snakes.(tell the truth Ray) (ok) anyway back into the truck ticking over into 2nd gear and bore it up her through the gate and two trailer lengths the other side or where the ground was firm.Walk back, shut the gate, back to the truck, all this when stinking hot or wet and freezing cold.
One property owner was sick of the few private people coming through and leaving the gate open. he hung a large sign on the gate.' SHUT THIS BLOODY GATE' it made headlines in newspapers all over the world. We always carried enough fuel and water to see us through with a bit to spare. There were a few water tanks with a tin roof to catch water but they were usually dry. In some parts there was bore water yuk couldnt drink it.
Well that describes just a little why we were having a quiet drink. The three of us Bill and Frank who we were waiting for and me had met earlier in the day being only a couple of days apart coming over.So it was a good reason to have a drink and swap yarns and see if there was anything going back east.
I ordered another two beers wondering where Frank was and looked out of the pub's window. It was rush hour home but the trams were stationary and blacked out. Bored passengers stared back at me probably wishing to swap places.
Not thinking anymore about it Bill and I were downing our beer when suddenly there was a burst of activity at the pub door, some one was pushing their way through. It was Frank. he looked hot and bothered, breathing deeply as if he had run a mile. Which it turned out he had.
I quickly waved to the barman for an extra beer knowing Frank would be thirsty, at the same time I wondered why I hadn't heard his truck pull up outside.
I quickly dismissed it ...not important, probably around the corner.
"Quick I'm in a bit of strife" Frank yelled as he grabbed the frothing beer and took a large swallow.
"Whats up" asked  Bill.
"I've just jammed the truck under the railway  bridge down the road and shorted out the tram lines.
It looks like the whole Perth tram system is blacked out. They wont go..  look out the window, look there all stoppd no lights on. There every where, all stopped all down the road, everywhere" and took another swallow.
"Well you cant just stand  here drinking beer ya bloody dope. What are you going to do?" I asked. "Go back and reverse it out and go and hide it or something."
Frank took another gulp "I cant she's jammed, there were sparkes and fireworks going off all over the placxe.
I wasnt game to get out at first I thought I would electricute myself. Then I decided to make a run for it and here I am.
Bill sighed,looked at me."Come on mate lets get this stupid bazztarrd out of trouble. Frank hop in with me ,Ray bring yours and we'll tug him out."
The beers were drained quickly and we were off.
Arriving at the 'crime scene' it was chaos. On the way we could see blacked out trams for miles.
Passengers were milling around the footpath with the odd dark blue uniform of the tramway Dept.
Good no police yet, move fast.
Bill grabbed Frank's hand  and flicked it against the door " it's ok wont bite" Frank jumped back with mouth open ready to swear and then thought better of it. He needed us.
Frank decided to climb up and have alook yelling down "It's jammed solid"
"We already know that you stupid bazztarrd. Get down here and start letting some air out of the trailer tyres while we back up and hook on."
This was the first trip for Frank and he didnt know as we did that the clearance sign was not correct. Over the years more and more bitumen had been laid and we had been avoiding this overhead for quite some time when another had nearly jammed a year ago. Frank nearly made it.
Anyway he did we did and out she came. A quick unhook and back to the pub,the trucks around the back unseen from the street.
Ordered a beer, looked out and the trams came alight and then started to roll with cheers from the passengers and much clanging of bells. We three promptly walked out onto the footpath(sidewalk) and toasted them with raised glasses, big grins and much whistling. The passengers in turn waved as they passed and thought we were very friendly  If only they knew the one in the middle caused it all.
It was Franks 'shout' (pay for drinks) for the rest of the night.
So ended back then another uneventful day with the "Overlanders" in the 'Golden West'
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