'Tail-End Charlie' is coming to Goulburn

TEAM: The original team from the 1957 Mobilgas Round Australia Rally. Photo supplied.

TEAM: The original team from the 1957 Mobilgas Round Australia Rally. Photo supplied.

‘Tail-End Charlie’ was the name of the tractor used as the support vehicle in the 1957 Mobilgas Round Australia Rally.

This tractor was the official sweep vehicle in the event. This meant it and a Ford Custom support vehicle and a crew of six tackled the course around Australia. 

The original rally took 19 days to complete and took in 10,180 miles (16,383km).  

As the sweep vehicle, all other competitors’ cars had to leave the checkpoint before the Tractor was allowed to commence the next section.

There were many occasions where the arrival of the Tractor enabled a competitor to be towed into a check point or town for repairs, thus enabling them to continue in the Rally. 

There were other occasions where the tow simply meant the car and crew was in a town rather than stranded on some remote country road.

It wasn’t too long before the Tractor had gained an enviable reputation for assisting unfortunate competitors and earned the nickname of ‘Tail End Charlie’.

In July, 2017, the 60th anniversary of the event will be celebrated by a re-enactment involving the same replica tractor and most of the crew who completed the 50th anniversary in 2007.

The route will take in all mainland states and generally follow the direction of the original rally in 1957. Over 15,000km will be travelled and it is intended to take 57 days to complete the journey.

This is a far cry from the 1957 Rally when 18,000km was covered in 19 days. The rally officially started on July 2.

Ron Bywaters,  the original driver from the 1957 rally, said the 57-day route is intended to allow ample time to visit as many towns and communities en-route as possible. 

“The tractor had to tow cars that had got bogged or had stopped for whatever reason,’ he said. 

“The rally took in the major cities around whole country in a clock-wise fashion from Melbourne.

“We have partnered with Prostate Cancer Foundation of Australia and the Breast Cancer Network of Australia and will be promoting the respective cancer awareness programs as we travel through towns and cities – advising about the need for regular health checks.” 

“Every dollar raised is distributed to both of these organisations.”

‘Tail End Charlie’ is expected to arrive in Goulburn on August 10 in the afternoon and will be in Belmore Park. 

The tractor will initially stop in Belmore Park in the afternoon and later in the day at Robert Temple’s property on the corner of Windellama Road and Painters Lane, at 613 Painters Lane. 

Mr Bywaters is now almost 80 and his small team are expected to camp at Rob Temple’s property that night.

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