Sue's 1954 Riverina to Darwin adventure

Sues 1954 road trip
Sue's 1954 road trip
109 hr | 9,998 km
It was 1954, I had just turned 21 and completed my nursing degree. I was ready for an adventure and wanting to see more of Australia, I decided to follow in my dad’s footsteps, who once embarked on a road trip with a friend in a T-Model Ford, covering Victoria, New South Wales, Queensland and South Australia. So off I went in a Holden Ute, armed with basic knowledge on mechanics and my two best mates.
  • 3 best mates
  • 4 months sleeping in a ute with a canopy
  • 136 bumpy creek crossings
  • 3 sore bums
Jeilderie to Bathurst
We left from Jerilderie in the Riverina. Three girls in a Holden Ute armed with basic mechanics instructions. We planned our miles each day for you only drove in the day-time back then because the nights weren’t easy. So, we headed up through Canberra and stopped for the night in Bathurst.
Sue's 1954 road trip - We three girls ready for trip
Three best mates ready for a trip of a lifetime
Bathurst to Broadbeach
We drove through Sydney, past Taree and Port Macquarie to Surfers Paradise, where we met up with my aunty and uncle. ‘Surfers’ was pristine back then and The Broadbeach Hotel was one of the earliest and most iconic buildings on the coast. We had dinner there, then crashed in our rooms.
Sue's 1954 road trip - On the highway near Pentland Qld
On the highway
Broadbeach to Mackay
From Brisbane onwards, we did a lot of camping. First on a family friend’s property outside the city, then in Maryborough and Mackay. We detoured to Mount Morgon to do a mine tour, but we mostly stuck to the coast where we slept under the stars every night. We had a small kerosene stove top as a main method of cooking meals. The trip’s ‘plat du jour’? Baked beans, sausages and eggs!
Sue's 1954 road trip - Lunch on the road near Townsville
Lunch on the road
Mackay to Daintree
The beautiful Daintree beckoned us. We travelled through Townsville with a stop at Magnetic Island, then went on to see where the rainforest meets the reef. We camped there and spent days visiting the lovely bays and swimming in the most incredible water you’ve ever seen.
Sue's 1954 road trip - Sue on trip to reef from Magnetic Island
Sue on a trip to the reef from Magnetic Island
Daintree to Boodjamulla
Lush green turned to red brown as we headed west, through bull dust country and right into the heart of Far North Queensland. Fortunately, we didn’t break down anywhere. Thank God! Because we saw snakes, wild horses and pigs in the bush where we were camping.
Sue's 1954 road trip - Camping at a bore in Western Queensland
Camping at a bore in Queensland
Boodjamulla to Darwin
We made our way to Darwin and spent two weeks in and around the city, camping on Mindil Beach most nights. We absolutely loved Darwin. And it was cheap. You could get a 1kg steak for 25c back then! And new tyres? Only $42, which we needed by that time. Especially as we were about to head to the Red Center.
Sue's 1954 road trip - At Berry Springs south of Darwin
At Berry Springs south of Darwin
Darwin to Alice Springs
Driving deep into the red heart, we made our way to Alice Springs. We all decided to do a trip to Palm Valley with Bond’s Tours, a very popular touring company at the time. All three of us sat in the back of a ute and got all dusty. We went through Hermannsburg mission and arrived at Palm Valley, where we camped under the stars for two nights. It was a very beautiful spot but it was two of the coldest nights I’ve ever had in my life. During the days, we visited the Flying Doctor’s service, Standley’s Chasm and Simpson’s Gap.
Sue's 1954 road trip - We three in the back of a jeep on a tour to Palm Valley from Alice Springs
In the back of a jeep on a tour to Palm Valley from Alice Springs 
 Alice Springs to Meribah
The road south from Alice Springs was very poor. Not wanting to risk our vehicle, we caught the legendary Old Ghan and put our trusty Ute on one of the carriages. Off we went… until it broke down a few miles out of Alice. That was the story of our train ride; always leaving stops late as it was always breaking down. We found out later they were waiting on a new engine.
Sue's 1954 road trip - Two bedded down in the ute
Bedded down in the Ute
Meribah to Melbourne
The Ghan dropped us at Meribah from where we drove to Quorn, just outside the Flinders Ranges. From there, it was onto Adelaide and Mt Gambia to drop off one of my friends. Then we arrived in Melbourne, our final stop. It was an incredible trip with few hassles and no break downs.
Sue's 1954 road trip - Washing the car out of Maclean
Washing the car
Road Trip Tales are Member-shared memories, providing a sample of their route. Some highways and routes may no longer be open today. If you would like to emulate Sue's journey, use the multi-place map. above, or create your own route using our trip planner and our road trip guides.