A Life In Cars

The life story of Dickie Sutherland


Adelaide to Sydney

Christmas holidays Road trip to Sydney Three in a Morris Mini Minor, what a geat idea. The Diary is as it was, basicaly a Fuel and milage record with added coment made adhock developed into a Diary. Today the suprising relationship of prices and cost from 1967 comapred to current costs.

1967 Trips in the Mini

Adelaide to Sydney

The day Darryl and I decided to go to Sydney during the Christmas holidays.  My Mum suggested we may be able to stay with the Martineau family in Sydney.  Robin, Graham’s fiancé ask to go for the ride to Sydney to do a bit of shopping for an important occasion coming up.  Yeah, we were happy to oblige.

Wednesday 4.1.67

7.45 am, Mike, Valerie and David bid us farewell from East Terrace Henley Beach then they left for work.

8.20 We left this time (Dick).

9.10 PB Pooraka $2.00 super, 2 pints oil .47c Map 20c Darryl – $2.45  20c map

Odometer at Pooraka 18,400Mls

Just beyond Gawler, Robin discovered a man in a Falcon with the back door partially open.  We warned the driver.

Again about a mile on the other side of the Blanchetown Bridge, a man in a Holden (FC) with a trailer lost a suitcase, missing us within feet.

Stopped at Kingston ferry, 5-minute wait.  Approx, average mpg 44, time 11.40 am (Dick)

12.15pm  Stop Renmark 3 ½ galls ($1.60) mpg 46.  Dick.

Lunch  Left at 12.55 (SA time)

1.10 pm

Valiant with caravan lights on during daylight.

Willi willi encountered prior to entry of Mildura largest of the twenty or so sighted.

Leaving Mildura after procuring clutch return spring.  Time 3.00 p.m. (SA Central Australian time).

Euston 1 gallon 45c (Darryl) 4.45 pm S.A.

Balranald $1.78 4 galls. (Robin).

6.25 pm (South Aust) stop at Hay 1 pint oil = 22 c  Petrol = $1.30 3 gallons

Tea steak at Hay (2.44 Darryl & Dick 83c) 7.15 pm leave.

Three kangaroos jumped at us!

Weethalle petrol 9.55 pm (Vic Eastern Australian time)   $1.64 3 galls (Darryl)

Arrival in West Wylong at 10.40 p.m. 

Upon entering the local ‘Chisl and flip chop’ (fish and chips) with our man Darryl or this man “Sprog” so tired, result, drinking a bottle 2 handed – floor (Raz).

Topped up with petrol 52c (Raz) (Donation $1.00).

Thursday 5th

Blayney (NSW) 2.15 a.m. Self serve pump 40c Darryl 40c Robin & Dick 20c = $1.00.  40c rejected (Robin).

3.00 a.m. Bathurst 80c petrol Self-Serve Dick

$1.30 – 3 galls @ cafe 3.35 a.m. Dick

Rain at this time.  Fog, driving at speeds 35-40.  Stalled and stopped on the roadside about five miles from the Sydney side of the cafe.  Time 4.00 a.m.  Out of the car bonnet up what to do now?

5.30 am.  The engine roared to life (Roar).  Once again on the move, Beautiful, foggy weather.

6.00 a.m.  Then what to occur, stranded on the highway without any “spark! 

Dare Devil Darryl on the job, new gear installed, breathless moments and with petrol in hand, he tipped it on the distributor cap to dry it out, crack cap, moisture in the crack had diverted the spark from the leads preventing the motor from starting.  No, the engine would not go!!!:

(Dick loses all control, standing in the middle of the highway screaming MUM!!!!  All is to no avail).  Approaching car with a family of four, stopped, could you give us a tow to start the motor, please?  They towed but the engine would not go! At Marangaroo service station 7 miles out from Lithgow NSW we thanked them for their assistance.  7.40 a.m. we were collected by a diesel truck and towed to Lithgow. ‘Towed’ to Lithgow behind a huge dump truck, with the shortest of a short rope, scary.  (Robin).

Thursday 5th at 9.10 a.m.

Waiting at B.M.C. agent for electrical repairs.  The “MAD: magazines are the order of the moment. 

Light rain was experienced at Lithgow, dampening enthusiasm greatly. Conversations comparing SA versus NSW concerning radio programs. The coil was fixed by cleaning with a new protective boot fitted, Bill was $1.00, cheap at half the cost.  Hamburgers 20 cents each, 4 off, please. 

10.10 a.m. set sail by 12.10 p.m. we entered Sydney’s outskirts, stopped at Penrith caravan park for showers, etc. 1.00 p.m.  On the move once again.

Robin’s prime objective is to buy a dress for a special occasion coming up in Adelaide.  A Sydney style, something not found in Adelaide, a dress to wow the crowds back home.  We all hit the shops Robin found ‘the dress’ and a few other bits and pieces, Darryl and myself found something forgettable to entertain us until time to take Robin to the airport.

Pitt Street, Sydney, Robin and Darryl had picture taken by one of those roving freelance photographs, as if man and wife in Pitt Street, Sydney.

Sydney petrol 88 cents Esso paid by Richard.  (Darryl)  From petrol station proceeded to airport.  All three of us had tea at a cost of 95c each.  Oh to be at the “Blue and White” (O’Connell Street North Adelaide) again.

Robin’s flight departs at 6.35 p.m. arriving in Adelaide at 9.05 pm.

6.45 Robin waved proceeding into the “Parsons noise” of the great steel (Aluminium) bird.  Thus leaving us alone and undefended against the “big city”.  Now for the “coat hanger” at 6.50 pm (Dick).

After much frustration traveling Sydney’s suburbs, we managed to find a particular Sydney residence of Mrs. Joan Martineau 54 CABRAMATTA ROAD, MOSMAN.  We introduced ourselves at the door to Lance Joan’s son, they welcomed us into the house, conversations of our trip and memories of the Sutherland and the Lightoots, friends and their relations.

To (The Cross)

8.45 p.m. Caltex fills up 60c (Darryl).

At 9.45 p.m. the impossible occurred in – will you guess – will you – no sorry, time’s up.  We parked the Mini in what my mate here Dr. B Casey said was an impossible position.  A 10-foot-long Mini in an 11-foot 6-inch parking spot.  We really show them how to park around here, cheer squad on the footpath cheering on. 

A factual remark from an onlooker “Where do you think you’re, Glenelg or something?”.

Why all the excitement about one lousy park?  “Ha, Ha”, the impossible occurs again.  “Say, Dick, this is too much”.  The one lousy park, the only park, the park usually only acceptable for Vespers happens to be in the middle, yes you guessed this time King’s Cross. (Darryl).

Kings Cross crowded a hive of activity, people moving up and down. Contemporary Photo from the internet

Say, it’s a small world!  Just met two lads from Adelaide, who have just come down from Brisbane, right there in the main street of Kings Cross. Mike Prowse and another (written in for Loon). Mike had traveled down from Brisbane, where he had experienced torrential rain (three and a half inches) while he was there.

Everyone knows Ben Casey’s life theory, Man, Woman, Birth, Death, Infinity, (TV program popular in 196s).  Well, here in King’s Cross the theory has been radically altered to Man, Woman, Consort, Taxi, Zoom!  So far we have spotted four, sorry five, neat-looking women with what we feel very unusual processions, not to be polite professions.  The continuation of the story is hereby censored.  For the benefit of the readers the average women here about are “gas!” the fellows look “every-so-hungry”, we leave no exceptions. (Darryl).

Kings Cross of the 1960s photos from the Internet

Today Friday. 6th

I Dick, arose at the early hour of 9.45 am only to find that Darryl was still asleep and Brunch was awaiting.  Darryl woke at 9.50 and while he had Brunch I showered and changed ready for a hard day’s leisure.

At about 11.00 am we caught a bus into Sydney.  After tramping around town for an hour or so we visited the Museum where we had lunch at 2.00 p.m.  After lunch, a short-long-cut was taken to Circular Quay, at a cost of 12c each we voyaged across the Harbour in a sterling ferry.  We disembarked at the Taronga Park Zoo.  I left Darryl there he-he.

While at the park, after a cost of 70c, we looked with amazement at the fishes in the aquarium.  The rest of the Zoo was not bad, very well spread out.  From the Zoo we caught a bus, bah, bah “SEX!” I just now heard bellowing from an over-made-up girl sitting in an EH Holden parked alongside me.  “Jose did not have one “sexy,” she said,  “No, me names Cecile” then she said as she rode off (Boyfriend driving).  “Winston Churchill” she cried.  Hmmm, Sydney is just weird!

Back to the car, parked outside the Martineau’s, but while attempting to fix the brake lights, we were invited in for dinner.  After a large meal and a glass of beer or is that beer yeah?  Anyway, back at the Ranch we set out in the Mini to find King’s Cross and eventually found the place or should I say we got placed in a park.  The only parking spot available was, well, just a bit longer than the Mini.  No problems this is Sydney and the folks here are “just-so-helpful”, four of the most helpful blokes we have met in Sydney, merely picked up the Mini and yes you guessed it, placed it in that just barely big enough parking spot.  Thanks, fellas.  (Dick).

Time 11.35 p.m.  Meanwhile outside “Freddies Reddies” yes, they cater for everyone in the Cross, by the way it’s a hot dog stall. (Darryl).

“Won’t be the first Won’t be the last” – This phrase was said in frustration by what to me was a rather attractive-looking averagely dressed girl, in all respects.  Brunette too.  My face turns (I think a light brilliant red) and said “Don’t upset yourself, lady”.

She said the price is $10.00″, TEN dollars is the price.  Quite bewildered at this time Darryl then said “That’s the price, she just told me”.  She ain’t the cat’s mother but is a slim build blonde.  Phew!! Darryl,

In my opinion, this 10 o’clock closing must agree with most Sydneysiders judging from the many red-eyed beauties.  Freddies Reddies is proclaimed the headquarters.

(There is a beaut white Alsatian wandering up and down here quite lost.)

One or two things noticed about Sydney traffic when a pedestrian steps off the curb drivers stop for them. 

Also, anyone on the right is allowed the complete right of way.

Time 12.10 p.m. Description of whereabouts.  We are parked in front of the David Huban photography 62B Darlinghurst Road.  Directly opposite Girls a Go Go go go go stop. (Dick)

Saturday 7th

Arose about 9.30 this morning after two days in Sydney.  Richard went to a Snooker hall with Lance this morning while I breakfasted.  Richard and Lance returned and all three of us embarked on a tour of local spots of interest.  We had a look at the North Shore underneath the Harbour Bridge. (Darryl).

As the day wore on we three visited some of the coastlines around the Harbour.  At one of the ferry landings, Lance took us to his Uncle’s hamburger shop.  The Hamburgers there are :

Plain 15c

With cheese 22c

With egg 22c

Better than the “blue and white” can make, (Blue and White Cafe O’Connell Street North Adelaide). That’s saying something!

Dropping Lance home and continuing onto Manly.  The surf was a consistently soft forming and breaking about 200 yards offshore.  The day was a fine day with a reasonably cool breeze.  When leaving Manly, four girls sitting on a seat (bench seat) at one end of the medium strip asked if we had the time??

Stopping alongside we endeavored to find out more – “Could you buy us a beer?”  “Do they accept bottle tops here” I (Dick) after a short meaningless conversation we left. 

Next stop was back at Lance’s Uncle’s snack bar bought 2 hamburgers and a chocolate milkshake each.  While we sat eating our hamburgers, we could look upon the 12 metre America’s Cup yacht “Gretel” it’s crew mooring the boat for the night.

Gretel, as the first ever Australian 12 Metre, competed in the Americas Cup Races in 1962, the 1-4 result did not give an accurate picture of Gretel’s capabilities. Here in 1967 she was the trial horse to Dame Pattie’s challenge for the 1967 Americas Cup

Photo of Gretel https://dictionaryofsydney.org/entry/sailing Contributed  by John A Tanner [A1200, L40966]

Reflection on driving in Sydney: Had our first real hectic traffic fright today, my mate Dick didn’t see the red traffic light owing to the semi-setting sun.  I noticed them and warned him, consequently we drifted up to and over the stop line on locked wheels.  “Bloody South Australians!” was the cry from the locals. (Darryl).

Darryl then suggested that we return “home” shower before heading off to Hillsdale.

Back at the Martineau’s, we were presented with dinner once again.  After dinner and a shower we set off for Hillsdale.  With a good bit (good English aint it) of trouble, a few directions from different people, we found the place.  To say the least, Hillsdale would be the best Slot car track we have ever raced upon, at the cost was 50c a ½ hour.  Earlier on in the day, we visited a track at Crow’s Nest, not bad, but the attendants made you feel as if they were doing you a great favour by allowing us in as we placed a great strain on them, all that for 80c a half hour too.

Hillsdale Slot Car Centre would be one of the biggest tracks in Australia.  The Centre consists of three tracks, one large and two smaller slower speed tracks.  The largest one upon which we raced would be described as follows, in a clockwise direction starting from the control line long straight breaks into a 180-degree right hander.  To continue into a shorter straight containing an upward grade and several esses.  This straight breaks into a sharp 180-degree left-hander followed by another straight containing a dip and a slight downhill run.  This run comes into a shallow left-hander and a tricky drop is situated at its centre.  From here the track continues along another small straight and breaks finally into another left corner leading to the first main straight.  This straight can only be described as “FAST”.  It is level for the first part and rises near its end.  This straight runs into a 180-degree x 45-degree banked right-hand turn, which continues into the second main straight, which goes to the start again. The last right-hander 180 degrees x 45 degrees could be compared with the “Wall of Death”, speeds obtainable on it are incredible.

Hillsdale Sydney

Sunday 8th January.  Weather fine.  Estimated maximum 75 degrees F.

We contemplate leaving Sydney today after three days of sightseeing.  Our stay here would not have been so long had it not been for the fact that we met the Martineaus.  This family has shown us genuine hospitality and gone out of their way to make us feel completely at home here.  To them, I feel we owe the success of our stay here in Sydney. (Darryl).

Maroobra spelt Maroubra

News Flash: America’s Cup trials, Dame Patty is leading Gretel at this moment 12.30 Sunday.

Dame Patty and Gretel America’s Cup trials

Just now, when, or is that went, anyway, we have just bought a 1 lb box of chocolates to leave with the Martineaus “THANKS” for their hospitality towards us during our stay in Sydney. $1.75.

Petrol BP $1.60 6.00 p.m.


5.00 am.  We finally got out of the Sydney suburbs and on the main highway.  (Darryl I think is going – you know), but anyway we average 60mph or more most of the way, with one stop for (Darryl just said, “get nicked”, nice lad aint he?) dinner at a tea parlour.

Arrived in the Capital, Canberra, we couldn’t find our way to the main thoroughfare, so we camped in the car the night about ½ mile outside the city.  Terrible night’s sleep.

Darryl just now gave out with one of his most common expressions “muffled voice” says Dick – me.  Darryl is now getting very offensive about me sounding the horn while he struggles at the side of the car in an attempt to dress himself (hopeless).

Mobil Petrol and oil 2 pints $2.1 (Dick).

First impressions of Canberra.  This city is basically something the same as Elizabeth (planned suburb for British migrants on the dry Adelaide plain) but on a much larger scale.  The larger buildings are very contemporary in design.  Flies! you’ve never seen anything like it, they attack in formation.

BP Petrol Yass 99 cents.  (Darryl).

Stopped at the ‘Commercial’ for lunch compliments to the management, a good and most importantly cheap meal.

Back in the Commonwealth capital, after waking at “seven” we drove into the city shop circle to discovered there was only one service station to be found.  Mobil.  No places open for service – that’s if you wanted breakfast so we had to do with sandwiches.

From the city shops, we drove up to the Australian War Memorial that is after getting lost.  The war memorial was quite a good place, well set out, the relics from the Wars in which Australia took part, were many and varied.  These relics range from road signs to a Lancaster bomber, with all the services being displayed including many pieces of enemy’s equipment.

From the Museum we set our course for Hay, in a roundabout way, Of course, it’s Canberra! Weather Bureau says today’s maximum was also the second hottest temperature on record for Canberra.

10th January 1.20 pm Setting off for Gundagai.  Petrol 75c Darryl.

25 miles before Gundagai windshield shattered by some stone.  Darryl writes I was driving, we managed to pull up on the hill.  Dick then told me to move far further off, so restarted began moving and came to a sudden halt.  Dick put his head through the broken screen.  So it was because of the screen neither of us saw a large post in front.  The bumper was smashed inward.  The cost of the windshield at Gundagai was $28.50.  Petrol at 4.30 Monday was 75c.

11.45 p.m. petrol 88c 2 gallons Darryl.

Back at the sheep station we left Gundagai for Wagga at about 4.00 p.m.

I (Dick) drove from Gundagai to Wagga, on the way I picked up a tortoise, size about 8” across.  Had a thought of bringing him or her home but could not think of where to put it.  Sorry!

As we neared Wagga, Forest Hill to be exact, I saw a Copper in a white Mini Cooper S.  Soon after we picked up hitchhiking, an air force man.  He showed us to Dennis’ place.  Dennis has left for Surfers Queensland his mate said and was not overly upset about us staying out front for the night, he did not offer any further help.

11th Tuesday The next morning, finding the main street, we let loose our mate the tortoise go into the river.  We then (back at the ranch), ( a speaking term from old Western Films used as a filler when wanting to say something profound but can not think what to say) went up to the slot car track and began talking to the proprietor.  This young lady told us of the local competition and other assorted rubbish.

Darryl and I went down to the river and after a strip and changed then went for a swim.  The current in the river was strong, it was almost impossible for either one of us to swim against it.  After a “rather” tiring swim we went into town cafe for dinner ($2.20).  After dinner (lunch) we drove up to the slot car track to try it out.  The track is a large figure ‘8’ slightly out of shape, with no banked corners, but all the same a fast track.  Cost was 60c a ½ hour, which was an average fee.  Two of the locals showed plenty of competition, the other group of lads provided little competition.  All in all it was a good afternoon’s fun.  After the racing we walked down the street, sat on a seat and watched the youth of Wagga scream past in their cars, entertainment plus.

When we walked back to the car Darryl decided we should drive to Hay instead of staying at Wagga for the night.  We are camped just over the bridge in Hay.  Next morning after moving to a garage for, food, petrol and then off to Mildura (Dick).  Hay fill up, Esso $1.98 Darryl.

BP Balranald Gas $1.15.  It was here Robin told there were two blokes here who wear white tee shirts.  Wednesday 9.50 a.m. Notable

One dingo is seen between Narrandera and Hay.  (Recap. I slept on the ground at Hay until rain and dust made me transfer to the car again).  Sighted the first dead Wombat for the whole trip 41 miles from Euston.

Lunch at Mildura 90c each Darryl paid.  12.30 Stopped on the outskirts of Mildura for petrol – $1.28 (Darryl).

The birds in Mildura are “quite average” and we wish we could stay a day or two, maybe three or four, but we must push on.  Now heading for Loxton where we hope to surprise Tony Schick with the plan of staying the night at his parent’s place.

We made it to Loxton, finding Tony hard at work talking to one of the locals, that night as we talked of the trip with Tony I thought of things that we had not been able as of yet to write into our diary or is that dairy?  Well anyway, back in Sydney from the first day in Sydney until now the girls (Ha Ha I got it) on the whole have been good.  Some of them exceedingly good, not like what most people, (lads) have told me of the terrible women that are supposed to live in this state!

The NSW drivers are not as vicious as many people say they are; in fact, if you’re on their Right, no matter where you come from whether it is a road or private drive, if you’re on their right then they will scream to a half and allow you passage.  Also, my parking or ranking episode in Kings Cross is further proof of how helpful they can be, one is uplifted by the experience of driving a car in Sydney.

The people we met, especially the Martineaus were welcoming and couldn’t do enough for us, home away from home. Two lads out in the wider world for the first time, just a wonder.

Loxton Petrol by the hand of Tony $1.30 (Darryl paid  – I’m broke Dickie’s broke).

The trip from Loxton to Adelaide was good except for the latter parts of the trip.  Darryl, poor Darryl, the strain was too much and, and, (you are supposed to read this slowly, that’s if you can), he began flipping his lips (those blubbery lips) with his fingers.  When that failed to hold his interest he began sounding the horn.  Well, he is my traveling companion!

Thursday When we arrived at East Terrace Henley Beach, Valerie seemed surprised to see us walk in, but in a later discussion, we found she had been expecting us, a woman’s intuition I guess.

Home at last, Clean machine

Leave a comment to continue the story

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Explore other stories

Triumph Gloria Front Left 197KB
1934 Triumph Gloria, sporting saloon. Coventry Climax engine.
Austin A90 6-cylinder leather seats wod trim, a Heater that worked a treat British quality