Amidst the crusty truckies at the National Road Transport Hall of Fame reunion in Alice Springs last week was one quite unlike the rest: she is a petite blonde driving the rig of the year, a 50 tonne Drake low loader pulled by a 550 horsepower Western Star – total value more than half a million dollars.
Perhaps the only hint there may be a woman driver behind the wheel is the prime mover's colour: pink.
Julie Gavin transports earthmoving and mining equipment all around Australia.
Does she know what the future will hold for the industry she loves? "Good question. What's next week's lotto numbers, Erwin?" ERWIN CHLANDA reports.
"There’s nothing like totally exhausting yourself whilst exploring the eerily beautiful landscape of Rainbow Valley Conservation Reserve in the Northern Territory."
So says Linda Collis, from Redlynch, QLD, who with this snap won the competition "There’s nothing like Australia" run by the Federal Government's Tourism Australia.
Trouble is, she and her mates in the photo are in breach of the regulations for visiting Rainbow Valley.
They seem to be off the short marked trail to which people are restricted.
However, the Department of Natural Resources said today (Nov 9): "They do not appear to have breached the regulations in this photograph.
"This area is considered to be a part of the public area adjacent to the walking track, where visitors are allowed to go."
But the photo below shows a visitor snapped by our reporter two years ago, at what seems clearly the end of the path.
"Mushroom Rock. Please return along same track," says the sign.
The restrictions resulted from the transfer of ownership of this park and most others in the Centre to Aboriginal people, an NT Government decision.
Parks NT, which manages the reserve, says fighting buffel grass is one of the reasons for the drastic access limitations.
The only way Ms Collins could get "totally exhausted" on that short path is carrying a very heavy weight and running backwards and forwards.
Tourism Australia Managing Director Andrew McEvoy does have a point when he describes the campaign's objective as Australians "promoting what is special and unique about their country last year to the rest of the world".
Not many countries would restrict access to some 90% of a national park to a minority of Indigenous people. ERWIN CHLANDA reports.
Tall Tales but True: Brought to you by the National Transport Hall of Fame in Alice Springs.
Christopher (Chris) Kuhn started work for the Commonwealth Railways in 1928 and went on to work for them on the Marree to Alice Springs section until 1953.
His job was to use a horse and scoop to clear the ever-shifting sand drift and debris from flash floods and windstorms off the track so the Ghan train could get through. The Old Ghan train was notorious for literally being stopped in its tracks and it was Kuhn’s job to ensure the train could get through gaps in the sand dunes. Sometimes the track collapsed because termites had gnawed through wooden sleepers.
If the train got stuck a goat, or other game, would be shot so the passengers could be fed. Those were the days too when all litter from the train (ablutions, kitchen waste and tins) were dropped through chutes to the track. It was a harsh and thankless environment: working in freezing cold or searing heat and open to the elements.
Chris Kuhn and his wife Mary lived at Irripitana just south of William Creek for many years. Following the line as it progressed towards Stuart (now Alice Springs) it was a harsh and nomadic life and yet they managed to raise 12 children. The family were known by all Commonwealth Railway staff and regulars who used the line to be friendly and welcoming and willing to lend a hand to anyone in need. Following the tragic loss of a daughter the family moved into Alice Springs.
Mary worked as cook at the old Alice Springs hospital where she cared for sick Aboriginal children. The Kuhn children grew up to be pioneers in their own right. Their eldest daughter Jean married Les Poole who was one of the town's first electricians. Their son Chas was instrumental in starting the Old Ghan Preservation Society in Alice Springs and works today on maintaining the modern locomotive fleet on the Adelaide to Darwin run. Chris retired in 1953 and was drowned in 1955 when a flash flood in the Todd River washed his car downstream. Kuhn Court in Alice Springs is named in his memory.