Must have taken the very scenic route to do 37000mls to cross Australia! East (Sydney) to West, (Perth) is about 2500 mls and a little less for North to South.
This looks like a Francis Birtles photo, confirmed by his name in the rear sign. He was a loveable rogue, also cycled his way across Australia from both west to east and south to north. Plus he was the first man to drive a car (Brush) from Perth to Sydney.
Interesting that Birtles used 'Red Crown Gasoline' rather than petrol.
It seems that either the hand brake is faulty, or he does not trust it, as there is an anti-roll device in front of the rear wheel.
The only sense i can make out of the sign would be that the car had travelled 37,000 MLS. before it was taken on this 2,500 MLS across AUSTRALIA trip.
If he didn't have a speedometer and it was a guesstimate, that ride may have felt like 37000 Miles.
I wonder if he sat on top with his dog the whole distance? Must have been sunburned. Question, do the Australians use the same mile as the United States? Maybe he went 3,700.0 miles. It could be possible if the route zig zaged around mountains, rivers, lakes etc. Or if it followed the coastline rather than going through the interior.
The sign does say "On a Ford" and the steering column does extend up to the roof. Don't see a steering wheel on top though.
From the Museum Victoria:
"Bob Birtles on his trip around Australia posing with his Model T Ford vehicle and two other men. The rear of the vehicle is loaded with equipment including four gallon tins of petrol. A large sign is fixed to the back of the vehicle advertising the trip."
Birtles also drove alone his 1924 Bean 14HP named "Sundowner" from London to Australia. This publicity feat was attempted in 1927 where he became the first man to drive from England to Australia.
"Sundowner" did live in the Australian National Motor Museum at Birdwood, South Australia for many years. Against local wishes, in 2000 or 2001, I can't quite remember, it was moved to the National Museum in Canberra.
There is a great book on this trip titled "Grit. An Epic Journey Across the World" by Peter Wherrett.
It is a bit hard to determine the mileage Frances Birtles did all told but his total in Fords. (maybe more than one car) could have easily been the 37000 miles. Roads were non existent and often the best way was not direct.
In 1913 Birtles drove from Burketown in the Gulf of Carpentaria to Melbourne for the NSW Ford distributors for a publicity drive promoting the Ford. The distance was 3500 miles.
Several other trips followed, including circumnavigating the continent, one Birdsville via Innamincka and Sturts Stony desert, a trip only previously done by Horses, camels and bullock trains. On this trip he nearly died when he became bogged in sand and ran out of water trying to seek help.
The Ford is RHD and is loaded with gear including gas as normally where he was going there was no place to purchase it. As you can see the Ford is basically a touring with roof only for the front seat behind it is just everything stored.
Birtles must have been one tough person, besides traveling by himself only with a dog for company, he suffered from malaria and was once rescued by Aborigines when struck down by it in the desert on one of his Ford adventures.
He also suffered extensive burns when on a trip the car struck a tree stump and the fuel on board exploded. He was rescued but spent several months recovering in an inland mission hospital.
His life reads like an adventure novel, I often wonder why his story has not made it as a film, as he eventually found a gold mine and retired a wealthy man who lived to an old age.
Here is a picture of Birtles on a trip to pick up the groceries.
Looks like he is taking a mud bath.
Jay, great photo! Had not seen that before. Where did you find that?
David, Peter Wherrett's book is great with some fantastic photos; but it should be noted, as mentioned I think in the preface, it's part fact and part fiction. eg. Birtles stated he never carried a gun on the London to Melbourne trip. In the book, if I remember correctly, Wherrett wrote gun he had a elephant gun given to him in India which he almost used on some coolies in Burma who wanted to push the "Sundowner" over a cliff.
Peter, the young guy in the photo above is Clive Birtles, Frank's younger brother. Both seen together here:
37000 miles in a T is possible for Birtles. I believe he was still using a T in 1916. The car in the photo though looks in amazingly good shape for a car that's done 37000 miles in the Australia Outback. And Birtles had removed the fenders from the car (see the link below). Does the car in the photo at the top look like a 1913? Francis first T was a 1913 Canadian RHD.
Few old car guys in Australia have not heard of Francis Birtles. For our American and other friends interested in learning more, see:
the link with Birtles' T without fenders is here: