History Corner -- The Mail Run

Posted: Friday, June 29, 2012 - 12:07pm

Before motor transport became useful and popular, camels, bullocks and horses were beasts of burden in the outback. Camels were most used because they could carry a good load on their backs and were faster than bullocks and could exist on less feed and water than the other two mentioned.

For many years even after the introduction of motor transport, the common on the northern side of Broken Hill was called “camel camp” which was occupied by Afghans and their camels, which reminds me of a story often told by mine host, George Tainsh, proprietor of the hotel in which I stayed during my five years in Broken Hill.

George’s story goes like this. Before becoming a publican George was the local representative of Vacuum Oil Co (now Mobil) and each year all the reps of South Aust. And Broken Hill were called to Adelaide to bring them up to date with all the latest in the oil industry.

The night before the conference, George and a few mates had a night out drinking and playing poker, so naturally they were not too bright for the lecture the following morning.

The main topic given by the lecturer was on lubricating oils and in particular oils suitable for turbine engines, George and his mates sat in the back row of the auditorium so that they could have a quiet nap now and again. However, the chap giving the lecture noticed that George was not paying much attention to his talk, so he raised his voice and said “of course, Mr.  Tainsh from Broken Hill would not know anything about “TURBINES”, the moment George heard his name called he woke up in a start and said “don’t worry Mr. Wilson all the bloody Afghans up there wear ‘em!”