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Vice-regal expedition to central Australia

Sir Tom Bridges, Governor of South Australia (1922–27), was enthusiastic about building a north–south railway to open up central Australia. But first he wanted to see the region for himself.

He assembled a distinguished party, including Herbert Basedow, for a three-week inspection by car. Three Dort four-cylinder touring vehicles were modified for the expedition and fitted with the largest tyres possible. Fuel for the 2300-kilometre trip was sent on ahead by camel.

Map outlining the expedition in 1923 through South Australia and the Northern Territory. The stylised map shows the expedition routes as white lines against an earthy yellow background. Lake Eyre is represented as two blue shapes in the bottom right hand corner of the map. Locations such as Marree, Oodnadatta, Alice Springs and Hermannsburg are indicated on the map. The South Australian-Northern Territory border is shown as well as the intersection of the South Australian, Northern Territory and Queensland borders, at the extreme right of the map. A small white map of Australia is at the left hand side of the main map, with a rectangle in it indicating the expedition area.
Map outlining the 1923 expedition route through central Australia

At Alice Springs, Aboriginal people lined both sides of the road to greet the party. Celebrations included a corroboree and the official party was entertained by the town's citizens at the jail, which doubled as a hall.

On their way back, they were advised that the terrain from Hermannsburg to Oodnadatta was unsuitable for motor vehicles. Nevertheless, they made it through triumphantly, in the first cars ever to travel the route.

Read more on the 1923 expedition

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