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THE JOURNEY

Sunday 19 December 1982
The big journey started from Scarborough Beach, with the Premier of West Australia, Ray O'Connor, handing over a bottle of water from the Indian Ocean to be carried across the nation to Sydney, where it was to be ceremoniously poured into the Pacific Ocean.  It was a symbolic gesture of joining two great oceans by solar power. 

The start of the journey was at Scarborough Beach, Perth. A bottle containing water from the Indian Ocean was handed to Larry and Hans by Ray Connor, Premier of Western Australia.

Ahead lay a life of basic living without many home comforts for it would be a matter of stopping whenever the sun stopped providing power. Basically, Hans and Larry thought they might only be able to run between 1000 and 1600, but the some early morning starts were possible when the batteries where charged from the sun's rays in the last hour or so of each afternoon. Usually by about 0900 power was being developed from the sun.

A few punctures and broken spokes of the driving wheel were the main problems that were incurred, but other than these occurrences very little else when wrong mechanically.

Hans and Larry quickly found out that the speed was limited due to the lack of a suspension, and the road surface was generally rougher than expected and care had to be taken with the rigid frame.

The 'bathtub on wheels', as the Quiet Achiever quickly became known, left Scarborough Beach at 1103, with Larry driving. A police escort accompanied the entourage, which included several support vehicles and a film unit which accompanied the Trek, as well as a horde of Perth media vehicles accompanying the Trek through Perth suburbs.

The first hurdle was to get over the Darling Ranges, through Midland and Greenmount, and the little vehicle had no problems getting up the grade. 

A second hurdle was to see what would happen to The Quiet Achiever when a large truck passed at speed. So, it was with breath held that the first truck approached, and then passed .........and The Quiet Achiever remained totally stable.

The day started out quite hot (38 degrees Celsius), with a thunderstorm rolling in late afternoon, forcing the Trek to stop due to high gusty winds and rain. 

Larry drove all day and the overnight was spend at the Northam Army Barracks, arriving here at 1715.

Elapsed time was 6hr 12min with a stoppage of 53min, giving a run time of 5hr 19min at an average speed of 20.9km/h for the 111 kilometres covered.

Monday 20 December
Another suitable day with a top temperature of 38 degrees. The Trek got underway at 0806 and during the day covered 235 kilometres to the village of Bodallin. Hans drove until 1356 when he handed over to Larry.

Around mid-morning the right hand front tyre was giving problems, having had to be pumped up and then finally changed. Otherwise it was an uneventful day mechanically. Arrival at Bodallin was at 1806.

Elapsed time was 10hr, with stoppages totaling 42min to give a running time of 9hr 18min at an average speed of 25.3km/h.

Tuesday 21 December
Another hot day with ideal temperatures. A start was made at 0647, with Larry driving until 1216, when Hans took over for the rest of the day, pulling up 38 kilometres west of Coolgardie at 1646, an earlier than expected stop due to rain and heavy cloud cover.

An uneventful day mechanically, and the distance covered was 201 kilometres, in a total time of 9hr 59min, with stoppages coming to 1hr 19min to give a running time of 8hr 40min at an average speed of 23.2km/h. Larry drove until 1216.

As news spread of the journey of the Quiet Achiever, people travelled hundreds of kilometres just to see the little vehicle pass by. In major towns many hundreds crowded around the solar car when it stopped for a few minutes for publicity purposes. By the time the Quiet Achiever reached the Sydney Opera House interest in the Trek was enormous, and thousands turned out to greet it as it passed through Sydney's suburbs.

Wednesday 22 December
Although the day started ideally with high temperatures, the last two hours run into the Norseman overnight stop was in heavy overcast conditions, with periods of thunder. Larry drove from 0724 until 1100.

Tyres required to be pumped up during the day to see if a better ride could be obtained.

214 kilometres were covered in an elapsed time of 10hr 11min, of which 9hr 31min was the running time at an average speed of 22.4km/h.

Thursday 23 December
Larry started driving at 0735 and handed over to Hans at 1350, who drove to the overnight stop 28 kilometres east of Balladonia. This gave a total time of 11hr 1min, of which 10hr 24min was run at an average speed of 21.8km/h for the 226 kilometre journey.

A couple of minor problems turned up during the day. One was a broken chain link, and the other was an earthing problem caused by wiring that became loose.

Temperatures were quite cool, in the mid-20s.

Friday 24 December
An early morning blanket cloud delayed the start until 0800, with Hans driving until 1248.  Then it was sunny all day, with a 15km/h headwind experienced for most of the day. 

Mid-afternoon a Perth bound coach blocked the roadway forcing The Quiet Achiever to stop whilst passengers looked and photograph the vehicle. Otherwise an uneventful Christmas Eve run to Cocklebiddy, covering 225 kilometres at an average speed of 24.3km/h in 9hr 17min with an additional 25min spent in stopping.

The Nullabor crossing was a challenge on its own. Tail winds were expected but in the main quite strong head winds were encountered, costing the several kilometres per hour. So the expected distances were covered, as overcast weather was experienced on most days since the start in Perth. 

With the solar cells only 11 percent efficient, it needed a solid 'soaking' from the sun to keep the power flowing to the batteries. Hans and Larry found that even when there was not direct sunlight, the solar cells absorbed more than enough solar radiation to keep the batteries fully charged.

                                                                The Nullabor

Saturday 25 December
Christmas Day saw an 0810 start, with Larry driving until 1052, when Hans took over to drive to the overnight stop 40 kilometres west of Mundrabilla, arriving here at 1640. Temperatures hovered in the mid-30s, and there were constant winds all day (15km/h), with the vehicle frequently struck by strong gusts of up to 25km/h. By late afternoon there was an overcast blanket of cloud, forcing the early stop.

In all, 176 kilometres were covered in the running time of 8hr 06min, with a stop time of 24 min; the average speed was 21.6km/h

At 1052 an Ansett truck caught up with the entourage, delivering parcels of Christmas cheer from Melbourne, in time for dinner that night. The Christmas tree was light up by the use of The Quiet Achievers batteries - perhaps this was the first time that a Christmas tree was powered by solar energy!

Sunday 26 December
Hans and Larry were keen to make up for lost time on Christmas Day and The Quiet Achiever left at 0702, Larry driving the vehicle until 1418, and Hans until 1813, and they covered 234 kilometres in a running time of 10hr 31min, with 40min for stops. Average speed was 22.2km/h.

This was good going as there was a blanket cover of cloud for most of the day, with only some 3 hours of direct, hazy sunshine. Temperatures were in the low 20s, with head winds from the south east, occasionally gusting to 25km/h.

This distance took them into South Australia, to stop overnight 75 kilometres west of Nullabor Station. 

During the day the rear flat tyre punctured. 26 minutes was lost carrying out repairs. However, Hans and Larry were quite pleased with the progress - they were five days head of their schedule when compared to Frances Birtle.

A great shot showing the spaceframe, tub and solar panels. This shows how simple, and fragile, the Quiet Achiever was. 

Monday 27 December 
A very heavy blanket of cloud, with occasional glimpses of the sun, prevailed. The air was misty, with light rain for a few minutes at 0930, and a 10km/h head wind prevailed all day. This meant a very late start for Larry at 1225, and he handed over to Hans at 1528. The day temperature hovered around the mid-20s.

The day saw only 172 kilometres covered in 8hr 38 min with only an additional 3min for the driver changeover. The average speed was 20.0km/h, and the day ended at Yalata.

Fortunately there was no problems with kangaroos!

Tuesday 28 December
A storm passed through the area at 0615, but most of the day was fine, with direct sunshine for most of it, until late afternoon when heavy and dark clouds rolled in, cutting out the sun altogether. Temperature for most of the day was in the high 20s.

Larry got the vehicle away at 0935 and handed to Hans at 1518, who managed to keep it going to Ceduna, arriving here at 0811, after a total time of 10hr 36min, with 1hr 22min for stops. Average speed was 22.8km/h over 211 kilometres. 

A couple times during the day Larry made gear ratio changes to see if the vehicle could travel faster as he and Hans now had full confidence in the handling of the vehicle.

A hang-glider along the Nullabor came in for a closer inspection...........

Wednesday 29 December
The camp was truck by a storm passing through Ceduna around 0500, but not damage was sustained. However, an early morning inspected found a flat tyre.

Hans got off to a 0910 start and handed over to Larry at 1354. Throughout the day headwinds were a sedate 7-8 km/h, and they day was fine and sunny with temperatures in the high 20s. 

A loose electrical connection , another change of gear ratios and a flat tyre resulted in stoppages totalling 40min, in a total run of 10hr 26min at an average speed of 26.3km/h, covering 257 kilometres, the best day to date

They overnighted 25 kilometres east of Kyancutta.

.......... as did a pilot!

Thursday 30 December
Larry had two stints at the tiller today - starting at 0905, handing over to Hans at 1342, and having another go from 1759 until the overnight stop at the top of Horricks Pass (east of Port Augusta), arriving  here at 1955. 

The late stint saw a total of 263 kilometres covered in 10hr 25min, plus stoppages of 25min for a number of gear changes, made to suit the varying terrain. Average speed was 24.3km/h.

The weather was cool with the maximum temperate in the low 20s. There was a thick cloud cover in the morning, but by 1115 this had cleared away to provide maximum sunlight. Headwainds prevailed throughout the day, with gusts up to 20km/h. A low was developing off the Great Australian Bight.

Many people gathered on the outskirts of Port Augusta and followed The Quiet Achiever to the BP station in town, where a large crowd of spectators had gathered.


On the Barrier Highway, well into South Australia

Friday 31 December
230 kilometres were covered on New Years Eve day, with New Years Eve celebrated at the small railway town of Mannahill. ..... what a night that was!!!

24.9km/h was achieved in 9hr 13min, with 14min for stops. Temperatures were in the mid-20s, and usual winds prevailed. It was sunny and fine for moist of the day.

Hans took off at 0754 and handed to Larry at 0948; Hans took over again at 1239, giving the tiller back to Larry at 1532 for the rest of the day which finished at 1721. More quick gear changes were made during the day.

The Quiet Achiever parked outside the pub like any other car!

Saturday 1 January 1983
That low off the Bight was now starting to create strong winds and 49min were lost at 1557 when cross winds hovered around 30km/h. A loose chain also resulted in some 10min being lost.

The day started at 0636 (despite the effects of the New Years Eve party!!) with Hans driving; Larry took over at 1113, and pulled up in Broken Hill at a publicity stop to the applause of a large crowd of people. Hans then had another stint from 1408 until the overnight stop at Little Topar, arriving here at 1810. Temperatures reach the mid-20s. However dust clouds were created by the winds in the drought stricken countryside.

In all 241 kilometres were covered at an average speed of 24.2km/h, in an elapsed time of 11hr 34min, with 1hr 38min for stoppages for various reasons.

The most intense period of drought in European settlement in Australia was in 1982-1983, with very large areas of central and eastern Australia had record low rainfall. This was part of the long 1979-1985 drought, by when even some of the larger rivers stopped flowing. However, help was coming - for the Wynn's Safari was being planned by Tholstrup and Snooks in 1984 and 1985, to be conducted in August 1985 - guess when the heavy rains came. But that's another story (see Wynn's/Australian Safari)

Running along the Barrier Highway near Broken Hill.

Sunday 2 January
On the flat running between Broken Hill and Wilcannia the average speed on this day was 27.2km/h. However, only 123 kilometres were covered. Larry started at 0700, but the winds started to gust at up to 35km/h, creating enormous dust storms, that forced a stoppage after 34 kilometres were covered, at 0830. It was too dangerous to keep travelling along the highway at 27km/h with huge road trains emerging out of the dust travelling in excess of 100km/h.

Additionally, the strong wind gusts were coming from the south west and this made the vehicle vulnerable to being tipped over.

Willcannia was reached at 1906, with Hans starting after the forced stop at 1552 - after a frustrating 7hr 22min delay. In all the running time was 4hr 31min in an elapsed time of 12hr 06min. 13 minutes was also lost due to a flat tyre (at 1806).


Garry Perkins, Steuart Snooks and Larry getting the cover on just as storm arrives, near Wilcannia.

Monday 3 January
This days 307 kilometre run at an average speed of 27.9km/h was the best of the journey. It ended at Florida, 50 kilometres east of Cobar.

Larry fitted a high gear took off at 0652 and handed to Hans at 1245, who went through until 1833. Total time was 11hr 19min, with only 19min of stoppages.

Winds gusted at 20km/h in the early afternoon, but otherwise it was fine and the sun shone all day. 

Great viewing spot, along the Barrier Highway near Mannahill

Tuesday 4 January
The weather was not perfect for the journey, with very light clouds and plenty of sun, and only light breezes. Hans got off at 0729, handing the Larry at 1217 and took over again at 1620 and drove to the overnight stop at Wellington, arriving at 1825.

The course passed through Dubbo and a big crowd was on hand at the publicity stop. Media coverage was extensive, with Hans driving ahead of The Quiet Achiever to carry out media interviews. The interest in the project was now mounting.

In all 297 kilometres were covered, in a running time of 10hr 39min (with 15min for stoppages), at an average speed of 27.8km/h, the second best day. However, the trek was now coming to the Great Australian Divide and the mountains would mean slower speeds, if indeed The Quite Achiever could get up Victoria Pass, the longest and steepest hill on the journey.

Now in Central New South Wales

Wednesday 5 January
A big day for Larry! The course passed through Orange and then Bathurst, and the latter city meant Larry could driver The Quiet Achiever around the famed Bathurst race circuit.

The day started at 0749 with Larry driving and Hans took over at 1205 so Larry could meet the media contingency at Orange and then at Bathurst.

Larry took over again at 1505 and he lapped the Bathurst circuit in 18min 45sec, averaging 19.7km/h. The Quiet Achiever reached the dizzying speed of  just over 60km/h down Conrad Straight. The run up Panorama Mountain, part of the circuit, gave Larry and Hans confidence that they would get up Victoria Pass okay the next day.

In all 215 kilometres were covered by the time the overnight stop was reached at Meadows Flat, in 10hr 15min, including 42min stoppages, including 13min for a flat tyre at 1635. The average speed for the day was 22.6km/h.  Hans took over from Larry at 1532 so Larry could discuss the circuit run with the media.

The day was clear, with temperatures up to 35 degrees, and a breeze of around 10km/h.

Thursday 6 January
The penultimate day, which saw 105 kilometres covered to Springwood, arriving here at 1552, at an average speed of 22.2km/h. Hans wanted to continue but commitments had been made for a lunchtime finish at the Opera House in Sydney the next day. After much debate he relented.

Hans started at 0858 in clear skies, but temperatures throughout the day stayed around 20 degrees, and a light breeze blew. Larry took over at 1021 and the run up Victoria Pass was literally a breeze, covering the steep climb in 12 minutes. The main reason why Larry drove up the Pass was he was 50 kilograms lighter than Hans!!

The 1070 metre Victoria Pass road was a masterpiece of engineering; it winds down the western slopes of the Blue Mountains, crossing a narrow ridge at Mount Blaxland. The pass was completed in 1832 using convicts to construct the passage. The famous 'Convicts Bridge', an outstanding engineering achievement in 1832, is still used by traffic.

Passing through major centres such as Lithgow and Katoomba, where many people turned out to see the Trek, as well as those standing by the roadside as the vehicle passed, indicated that a big finish was in store in Sydney.

Travelling through Sydney City enroute to the Opera House

Friday 7 January
The run to the Opera House finish started at 0802, with Hans driving. It has long been agreed that Hans would drive to the finish and Larry would start in Scarborough, now all those weeks ago.

The run covered 87 kilometres at an average speed of 22.2km/h, in an elapsed time of 4hr 28min with 33min for stoppages. Larry had to pull up (with a police escort allowing the vehicle to pass through red lights - to the delight of Hans!) on the Harbour Bridge for 14 minutes to ensure at 1230 arrival at the Opera House.

In those days the toll on the Sydney Harbour Bridge was 20 cents and Hans taped a 20 cent piece under the solar panels, to be collected by the toll attendant.

A large number of people lines the Sydney streets to wave as The Quiet Achiever glided by, and a big crowd greeted The Quiet Achiever, Hans and Larry at the Opera House, where Senator John Carrick (Minister for National Development and Energy) welcomed them, and carried out the ceremony of pouring the bottle of Indian Ocean water into the Harbour.

The spectators on the steps of the Opera House laughed when the solar car scuttled into view, and then they almost broke the fragile vehicle as they converged on it and the two co-drivers.


On the Sydney Harbour Bridge. Hans insisted on paying the 20 cents toll fee

and taped a coin to the side of the Quiet Achiever within the toll collector's reach.

A grainy picture but worth including as it shows the enormous crowd that lined the streets on the approaches to the Opera House. Such scenes were totally unexpected, but it indicates the great interest shown in the BP Solar trek by the media, which gave the adventure great coverage in all forms of the media.
A big crowd at the Opera House greeted the Quiet Achiever at the end of its 4000km journey.

Senator Sir John Carrick, Minister for National Development and Energy, greets Hans and Larry on the steps of the Opera House.

He received the bottle containing the Indian Ocean and poured it into the Pacific Ocean (in Sydney Harbour).

A final picture!

 

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