Outback Life







Alice Springs RSL Club

Military - Life on the Convoys
Overview | Role of Alice Springs | Soldier's Experiences in Central Australia | Life on the Convoys

16 October, 1940 - Alice Springs
Convoy at Barrow creek, the first overnight stop on the road north from Alice Springs to Birdum (Image courtesy of Australian War Memorial)



The primary function of the Alice Springs military base was to transport the men, munitions and other supplies from the railhead through to Darwin (or more correctly the railhead at Birdum from which the goods would then be trained into Darwin itself). The convoys from Alice Springs to Darwin took several days round trip and required that the trucks in the convoys travel well apart from one another at slow speed and in some very uncomfortable conditions. Not only was there exhausting heat (especially for those soldiers from the southern States not used to such heat), but the trucks themselves had few of the comforts that are standard in modern cars and trucks. There was no air-conditioning, they were very noisy,there was very poor suspension and shock-absorbers were not available. At the end of each day, a convoy would arrive at one of the Staging Camps where convoys would spend the night, vehicles would be checked and repaired if necessary ready for the next day. These camps also provided meals for the drivers and the troops-in-transit, which was an experience in itself for some diners.

Churchill's Head
A familiar and welcome site on the convoys up and down the track from Alice Springs to Darwin was this outcrop of rock which was affectionately named by the troops as Churchill's Head in honour of the wartime leader. (It is now on a sideroad as the highway has been rerouted.) (Image courtesy of Adelaide House Collection)

With over 1500 kilometers of hot, dusty and corrugated road to be travelled over 7 days at very slow speed, the soldiers of the convoys were always pleased when their trips were completed. At least until the next convoy was ready to leave and off they would go again.


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