From the website of Veteran & Vintage Chevrolet Association of Australia (Qld)
By Bryan Cantrell
The caption to this photograph reads “On the western plains – when they were boggy they were just plain hell”. I would have to agree. It’s amazing what Chevs were subjected to when they were new!
The year was 1936 when the drought broke in Australia. Three scientists were studying plants in western Queensland, travelling in a 1935 Chevrolet utility heavily laden with scientific equipment, camping gear, provisions and spare parts. Swags were carried in the traditional method, wedged between the bonnet and the front mudguards. Road conditions switched between two extremes. All too often the road was invisible and the Chev was driven from one boggy patch to another. Other times the road traversed rough gibber plains. Along the way a bashed in sump was repaired and several broken springs replaced.
Later in the trip the scientists needed to cross the flooded Diamantina River to reach Birdsville. Before attempting the crossing, the “usual precautions” were observed. These were to remove the fan belt, wrap the distributor in a piece of old macintosh, and tie a sheet of canvas over the radiator grille. Two scientists crossed on horseback, but the driver tackled the river, lurching over the rocky river bed and triumphantly roaring up the opposite river bank where the Chev came to rest dripping like a spaniel. The water level had been above the seat and the driver’s trousers were well soaked.
This is a true story, as told by Francis Ratcliffe in his book “Flying Fox and Drifting Sand”, published by Chatto and Windus, London, 1939.
The photograph was scanned from the book by our daughter, Laura. It is somewhat grainy but gives a vivid impression of the Chev with the front wheels throwing up impressive “bow waves” as it negotiates a boggy patch.