Francis Birtles: born 7th November 1881, died 1st July 1941.
Francis Birtles has always fascinated the Ferals, or at least the Founding Members, as he encapsulated all that was great about motoring in the 1920's. He was a true pioneer automobilist, criss-crossing the continent enumerable times, and being the first to drive from England to Australia. He was a mega-star in his day attracting thousands to the start and finishes of his journeys. He was also egotistical, heartless and totally driven. His first marriage did not survive the honeymoon and he abandoned his wife, ironically named Frances. He was also the toughest bastard to walk the earth, or in his case, drive it.
The Wikipaedia entry does not do him justice, and gives no flavour of the man. We aim to remedy this. Why? Because we reckon he is an important figure in the history of motoring, and especially so for Australian motoring.
Back O' Beyond With Two Men and a Dog.
The first parts of the archive will be the Unpublished Manuscript, by his crew member, Roy Fry, of a 1920 Federal Government sponsored journey to plot the track for the Alice Springs to Darwin railway, and to identify suitable aero landing sites along the way. This is the toughest tale you will ever read about, and makes Peking-Paris look like a stroll in the park. Interestingly, it also displays the virulent racism that was accepted as normal in Australian society, and which is still there, but just below the surface.