A Wild Ride in a Land Rover
The West Coast State School Sports Association
Planned sports events for its primary schools.
Principals and teachers met in Zeehan,
At the local School each month, as a rule.
Tonight was the night, and I had a plan
That filled me with great anticipation
As to how my passengers would react
On the road to Zeehan, our destination
The office manager rang principals
In Strahan, Gormanston and Queenstown schools
Advising them all to wear warm clothing
As the ride to Zeehan was likely cool.
Convention had it that we would meet at
My place, beside South Queenstown Primary,
Then travel together to our monthly meeting,
This time with me, victims of my treachery!
I’d been Chair for five years, this was my last,
John, Ross and I were awaiting transfer.
We’d all dine, celebrate at meeting’s end.
I smiled, — how unsuspecting they all were!
You see, with some grade 6 kids after school,
We’d taken the top off the Land Rover,
Just the start of my somewhat, cunning plan,
As my passengers would soon discover!
The twilight ride to Zeehan with Wayne, Ross,
John and Alan, a teacher from the Coast (NW),
Was fun and laughter filled hills and gullies,
But I think ‘twas me who enjoyed it most!
The meeting was short and tied up loose ends
Before adjourning to the pub, at last,
To celebrate the year and our friendship,
Share time together, celebrate the past.
But on the way, Wayne did grab the keys and
Flung them into the dark of night behind.
The Land Rover shuddered to a stop and
We jumped out, the elusive keys to find!
We searched through wet potholes and gravel track
There was no light by which to find the keys.
We had to scrabble about, in the dark,
Five grown men, all teachers, on their knees!
Keys retrieved, it was off to our dinner,
That we really enjoyed with West Coast friends.
Once victualled and suitably refreshed,
It’s time to reveal how the story trends.
Tony, who’d brought his own car from Queenstown,
Would drive to South Queenstown, pick up Alan’s car,
Take it to Strahan and wait at John’s house.
I had a plan for those I’d brought thus far!
With Colin’s help we raided the Zeehan
School sick room for blankets to ward off cold,
Then said farewell to all our West Coast Friends
And waited for this story to unfold.
The ‘Government’ railway from Strahan to
Zeehan opened in eighteen ninety two.
The rail line was closed in nineteen sixty,
For times had changed and mines had closed down too.
Settled into the Land Rover once more,
We left Zeehan Town just after midnight
On that abandoned railroad formation,
The sleepers had gone, the surface was rough,
It was an adventure we’d remember
Decades later, – that night on the ‘right of way’,
We drove to Strahan, in late November.
We’d filled the spare wheel with cool refreshments
As a hedge against our dehydration
During the fifty-one kilometre journey,
Through bushland, devoid of habitation.
We huddled close to thwart the numbing cold,
Beneath the blankets we’d thoughtfully acquired,
Peering into the headlight’s pool of light,
Watchful, alert to what might be required.
Oceana Junction, Professor and
Grieves Siding flashed by in the moonless night!
Then we saw the old Henty River Bridge
In the loom of the Land Rover’s headlight.
A Tasmanian Devil took umbridge
At us passing by that dark, starless night,
It bared its teeth, and charged fiercely, at speed,
Before it turned and disappeared from sight!
We enjoyed the interruption to that
Wild, bumpy ride, – there was no turning back!
Huddled together to thwart increasing cold,
We hurtled down that lumpy, old bush track!
Our bottoms left their seats when bumps were hard,
And ruts destroyed the smoothness of the ride.
The refreshments we had fondly enjoyed,
Were wont to surge and slosh inside!
The tyres created ruts across the sand,
Where the dunes had encroached upon our way,
Slowing progress to little more than a walk,
But we’d get to Strahan by two (am), I’d say!
The school in West Strahan appeared at last,
John and Alan were pleased to leave us there.
Tony climbed aboard for the final ride,
On a bendy bitumen road, to share.
Queenstown appeared to our delight at three
In the morning, sad to say, of a school day.
Ross, Tony and Wayne went into the night.
And I parked the Landy in my driveway.
I was chuffed with the way the night had gone|
Although, I’d possibly lost friends that night.
I slipped inside to snatch some needed sleep
And reflected on the day’s delight.
BILL Edmunds (me) was Principal of South Queenstown Primary School from 1969 until 1973.
ROSS (Poss) Coleman began his teaching career at South Queenstown from !972 until 1973
JOHN Tate was Principal of Strahan Primary School from 1970 until 1973.
ALAN Jolly was a physical education teacher, from the North West Coast of Tasmania, taking a Learn to Swim Program in Strahan at the time.
WAYNE Blazely was Principal of Gormanston Primary School in 1973
TONY Webb was Senior Teacher at Queenstown Primary School
COLIN Breward was Principal of Zeehan Primary School in 1973