Tuesday, December 11, 2012


Great story from Greg Summerton, about an attempted Velocette trip across Australia in 1922; the bike is probably a Velocette GC3 'Colonial' model 225cc two-stroke!  A very light machine, and sophisticated with throttle-controlled oil injection, and a 3 speed gearbox.  Was it up to the job?
The 1922 Velocette 'GC3' was an early all-chain drive machine; many were sold in Australia.
Here's Greg's story:
"That fellow leaning on the fence is my Great Grandfather, Ernest Allchurch. The bike is a Velocette, the rider was Member of Parliament for the Northern Territory (Harold George Nelson), who rode the bike from Adelaide, hoping to cross the country all the way to Darwin.
My Great Grandfather and others tried to dissuade him, but realising he was committed, they advised him to stick to the overland telegraph line and use the repeater stations along the way. They lost contact with him some days later, he failed to turn up at one of the stations so they went looking for him on horseback. They found the bike, then "followed a trail of one pound notes" to where he was laying. Near death, he'd drunk the oil from the tank and "his tongue was swollen out of his head". Somehow he survived, but spent many weeks (months?) in hospital back in Adelaide after he was rescued. That was the story that my grandmother told me. One day I will follow the story up to see if my childhood memory of her story was close to the facts. Earlier, in 1908 I think, Ernest (my Great-Grandfather) had joined Murray Aunger and Frank Dutton on their second attempt to cross Australia from South to North by car at Alice Springs. They reached Darwin after finding and repairing the first attempt's abandoned Talbot left there the year before when it failed. Ernest started as a messenger boy for the Post Office in the late 1800s at Macclesfield and went on to become the last head of the Telegraph Station at Alice Springs itself before it was moved into the town that had become established nearby after the station was established in the late 1860s, I think. He was also the only magistrate for the area outside of Darwin itself. I never met him, he died before WW2, but his wife Elisabeth was a great little lady, I have great memories of her."

For more information on Ernest Allchurch, and a glimpse of life in the middle of Australia of the day, read here.


Tripod said...

hey Greg, so is Frank Dutton related to the Dutton family who own Dutton Motors in Mt Barker and Murray Bridge,seeing as Ernest worked at Maccy it could be possible,also Aunger part of the original Aunger Accessories family very popular in S.A.

Anonymous said...

I enjoy, and highly recommend, 'Old Engine Oil' from Harviestoun Brewery, http://beeradvocate.com/beer/profile/323/875

- Frank R.

Anonymous said...

Could use some air in the rear tire, but I'm just being picky.

- John H.

Anonymous said...

Well, that Castrol R is quite the temptress.

- John L.

Anonymous said...

Great story. Glad I have coffee to drink instead of 30 weight.

- Ted S.

GreginAdelaide said...

Hey Tripod, not sure if you will ever see this reply to your question of 2 years ago...ha! I just saw it!
Yes, it is the same family of Duttons for sure. Same goes for Aunger.
That epic journey must have really set them up to make a mark in the industry in later life.

GreginAdelaide said...

Correction to the 1922 date, the attempt could not have been made in that year.
I just checked my Great-grandfather's work records to see when he was at Alice. He started there in 1902, left to spend 1911 it Adelaide GPO then moved to head up the Hergott Springs (Maree) telegraph station in1916until 1922 when he moved to head the Kapunda station before returning to head up the Alice Springs station in 1924 until it closed and moved into the township itself.
So that means the photo must have been taken between 1924 and 1932. It cannot have been taken in 1924 unless my Great-grandfather made a special trip to the Alice.

The rider's name was Harold George Nelson. This Wiki entry also dates the attempt to 1922 because I think it used my incorrect date as the source.
My bad!