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VALE CAROLYN SHOEMAKER : 24.6.29 - 13.8.21

 

Beadells with Shoemakers and Prinsters, Grand Canyon 1986

At the Grand Canyon - 16 October 1986
Rear L to R - Anne Beadell, Gene & Carolyn Shoemaker, Connie Beadell
Front - Helen & Dick Prinster
Photo taken by Len Beadell

 

    We would like to pass on our sincere condolences to the family of Carolyn Shoemaker who died on the 13th August 2021 aged 92. She was a noted discoverer of hundreds of asteroids and 32 comets, including the famous Shoemaker-Levy 9 comet that collided with Jupiter in 1994. One of her asteroid discoveries in 1980 at the Palomar Observatory in California she named after Len Beadell, subsequently named 3161 Beadell.

    Carolyn Jean Spellmann was born in 1929 in New Mexico and her university studies included geology in California. It was a subject that apparently did not peak her interest until she met an enthusiastic young geologist called Gene Shoemaker. His passion for the subject included organising & training NASA astronauts for geological experiments on the moon. He was also the one to introduce Carolyn to a new program to search for asteroids that could potentially threaten Earth, a subject about which she excelled. She also accompanied Gene on many trips to Australia to study meteorite impact craters, visiting Len Beadell & his family at home in Salisbury, South Australia in 1986 to glean more information about impacts along Len's outback road network, including Veevers Crater east of the Gary Highway (Gene & Carolyn gave Connie a scientific paper about Veevers in 1990 to place in a box at the site). On a visit to the USA a few months later, Len, Anne & Connie stayed with Gene & Carolyn at Flagstaff, Arizona, in their magnificent home with a huge glass window overlooking a stunning vast vista of pine trees and mountains. Gene & Carolyn then took us for a trip to the Grand Canyon, taking us to a spot not visited by tourists. Gene stopped the car and told us to get out and walk over to see the view; from our angle in the car we couldn't see a thing, just a flat plain. It was a moment that I am sure he replayed over and again to unsuspecting visitors! His technical explanation of the formation of the Canyon went over our heads but it was interesting nonetheless!

    They were both award winning in their pursuits, including for Carolyn an honorary doctorate from the Northern Arizona University, Flagstaff in 1990. Gene's tragic death in a car accident in Australia in 1997 during one of their crater explorations was devastating. Carolyn was severely injured but survived to continue her observing work for a few more years. Carolyn and Gene will be long remembered in the geological and astronomy world and the Beadell family feel privileged to have known them.

 

Connie Beadell, 4 September 2021

References - Story by David H. Levy

 

 

VALE DICK LANG

Tragically killed in Kangaroo Island on January 3rd 2020, along with his son Clayton,
while helping to fight massive bushfires that swept through the island. Dick was 78 and Clayton 43 years old.

 

Dick Lang in 1997
Dick Lang at the launch of Len's
"Around the World in Eighty Delays"
on 14th December 1997
 
    Len Beadell first met Dick Lang in April 1970 when Dick and a mate visited Len at his home in Salisbury, S.A., to talk over an upcoming trip into the Gibson Desert. In 1976 Dick was a member of a Centenary expedition to retrace Ernest Giles' west to east expedition through the remote Gibson Desert in 1876, their story subsequently told in a book by fellow participants Graham McInerney and Alec Mathieson called "Across the Gibson". Dick visited Len on numerous other occasions prior to Len joining Dick's 4WD outback "Desert-Trek Australia" tours as guest tour guide. From 1984 to 1988 Len travelled with Dick on 7 trips along the Beadell roads, entertaining and informing Dick's customers as only he could do. Mum and I also joined him on a few of them and I can tell you that to listen to Dick & Len's continual repartee was something to behold. At Len's 70th birthday bash Dick told of their short-cut in regard to joke telling. Between them they would laugh uproariously over joke #9 with no-one having any clue what the joke actually was. Meals were grandly named too, for example Desert Stew a la beadellii or Bush Pie a la vokes hillii. As Len's birthday fell during the April tours there were quite a few birthday cakes as well!
 
    Dick's wife Helen was also an essential part of the touring team although she did not always travel with Dick. I remember her delicious plastic bags of goodies for lunch, all thoughtfully designed for maximum nutrition and flavour. On Len's last trip with Dick (I was also present) we had only just started when the heavens opened one night. We packed up our wet tents as best we could and spent the rest of the night sitting in the muddy bogged bus, with Len and Dick all the while keeping everyones spirits up with funny stories. I can't remember who brought the replacement bus, probably Helen, not the first or last time she had had to undertake a mission of mercy!
 
    Dick's bush bus safaris came to an end after Dick's bout of a rare form of Leukaemia in 1988. After his amazing recovery he continued with his "Desert-Air Safaris" during which time pilot Dick flew tours to Africa, New Guinea, Tasmania, the Aboriginal Art Centres of Central Australia, the Kimberleys, plus shorter adventures to Lake Eyre and the like.
 
    "Desert Dick" was a larger than life character and our sincere condolences go out to his wife Helen and his sons. We also extend our heartfelt sypathies to Clayton's family, an Adelaide-trained Plastic and Reconstructive Surgeon. They will both be greatly missed.

 

Dick & Len filming in 1991
Dick & Len filming for the
"Too Long in the Bush" video in 1991
Pre trip talk 1986
Len & Dick welcoming tour participants in 1986

Photos by Connie & Anne Beadell

 

 

VALE DR WILLIAM PEASLEY AM ("Wati Yinna")

Died 2nd January, 2020, aged 92

Dr Peasley & Mick
Dr Bill Peasley & Mick swapping stories, Marble Bar 2010

 

    Dr Peasley was fascinated by the desert, its history and its early inhabitants. His extreme interest and dedication shone through in his many books and journals as well as our personal communications via phone and email. Mick & I first got in touch with him in 2005 (we were vetted first by his wife) to get some first hand information on the "Last of the Nomads" story (Bill's book first published in 1983 by Fremantle Press) and he could see how serious and dedicated we were. To the last he didn't hesitate to help us with his vast store of knowledge both oral and written.

    Originally from Bedgerabong, NSW, he left his father's small farm on the Lachlan River in 1945, his medical degree obtained with help from the Australian Army following his discharge. He packed up his family and drove to Perth in a 1946 Mark 4 Jaguar (an adventure in itself) to work as a GP before becoming a Flying Doctor in the Pilbara and Kimberleys, which included remote work with Aboriginal people. The move north was accomplished in the Jag, the poor conditions of the tracks en route creating many problems which he included in one of his fascinating journals (published in 2014 by Hesperian Press as "The Last Outposts. From Port of Pearls to Desert Sands. A Flying Doctor in NW Australia". He and his old mate Chris Gilbert (who died a couple of years ago) recreated the trip in the same Jag in 2011, with another of Bill's Jags for backup (XJ6), the old vehicle not missing a beat. Bill told us that during his time in Broome he was "the sole doctor, also the dentist, the vet, the pathologist, the x-ray operator and performer of burial services (as there was often no clergyman about to bury my mistakes)". Old Aboriginal friends gave him the name "Wati Yinna", which means "Old Man", even though at the time he was quite young! He was honoured by the name and often used it to sign off his emails.

Chris Gilbert & Dr Bill Peasley

Connie & Dr Bill in 2016

Dr Bill Peasley in 2010

Chris Gilbert
 
    

The many desert expeditions that he undertook were testament to his dedication to the early explorers and Aboriginal history, the former including David Carnegie, John & Alexander Forrest, the Calvert Expedition and Michael Terry. Bill had another book published in 1995 by St George Books called "In the Hands of Providence. The Desert Journeys of David Carnegie" (his complete version was printed by Hesperian Press in 2013). Bill travelled with us in 2010, with his faithful companion Chris Gilbert, which was for us an absolute privilege. He in turn discovered a fellow rockhole hound in Mick (Bill likened Mick's "keen nose" for rockholes to the skills of his old Aboriginal friend & guide Mudjon). Another journal of Bill's was published by Hesperian Press in 2013 called "Through Spinifex and Sand to the Last Desert Family", telling of the finding of Aboriginal family Namma & Naomi & children in 1976 and their relocation to Wiluna. In 2015 Bill was awarded the Member of the Order of Australia (AM) "For significant service to the community as an inland explorer, historian and author, and as a general practitioner". Bill eventually hung up his camping hat after over 40 years of exploration, saying that at 88 he should "wake up" to himself. By then his memory was failing which frustrated him greatly. Mick and I treasure our time with him, including our last visit to Broome in 2016 to where he had moved from Perth after the death of his wife. He loved it there and for him it held many memories. Eventually the emails stopped as he struggled with his worsening memory and failing health.

 
    I write this on the day of his funeral. Mick and I, and the rest of the Beadell family, pass on to his family our heartfelt condolences at his loss. We will all miss him.

Photos by Connie Beadell & Mick Hutton

 

 

LAND ROVER 60th ANNIVERSARY

A celebration of 60 years of Land Rover in Australia

Land Rover line up on Cooma Showgrounds

    Organised by the Land Rover Owners Clubs of Victoria & Sydney, the Land Rover Club of ACT & the Range Rover Club of NSW. Sponsorship was provided by Land Rover Australia.

    This event was held over the Easter '08 long weekend and was celebrated in Cooma, NSW. In the 1950's Land Rovers were used during the construction of the Snowy Mountains Hydro Electric Scheme, and proved to be a rugged all-terrain 4X4. This anniversary brought together enthusiasts ranging from those who spend countless hours faithfully restoring early model vehicles to modern day owners.

1948 Series I Land RoversSeries I 107 inch Land Rover1961 Series II Firefly - SMA Vehicle

from left to right -: 1948 Series I, Series I 107 inch & 1961 Series II Firefly - Snowy Mountains Authority vehicle

    Also present was a five-eighth scale working model of a Series I Land Rover, very popular with kids (of all ages.....)

Five Eighths model of Series I Land Rover and late model vehicles like this Defender 130 Late model Defender 130

    Organised events like the Motorkhana Vehicle Trials & Day Trips were very popular, as were the more social get-togethers like the group BBQ on Saturday night. Sunday saw the gathering of 560-odd vehicles, grouped by Series & age, driving through the streets of Cooma to stand proudly on the Showgrounds for all to admire. A non-commercial swap meet provided help for those wanting spare parts, and memorabilia was also available. All in all it was an excellent weekend, and the Beadell family extend great thanks to the organisers for their recognition of the early remote survey work undertaken by Len Beadell in his early model Land Rovers in the 1950's & 60's.

    We look forward to the 70th......

 

 

Doug, Scotty & Len in 1957

WALTER "SCOTTY" BOORD

Born 1918 - Died 14.7.2007

 

Scotty Boord

    Scotty Boord was the last surviving core member of the Gunbarrel Road Construction Party, and his death in July 2007 at the Murray Bridge Hospital marks the end of an era. I did not meet Scotty (unless you count the 5 months Mum & I did with Len in 1962....) but the great respect that Len had for Scotty's work was very evident. They had many exploratory expeditions together on their free Sundays, often accompanied by one or other of the group. Of course who could forget the famous upper right molar that Len relieved Scotty of in April 1958 during the making of the Gunbarrel west of Giles. The following is a brief history of Scotty's life written by Robert Boord (Scotty's nephew) & his wife Janette. Our thanks go to them and Westprint ("Friday Five" newsletter) for permission to reproduce it. Thanks to Robert Boord also for the photographs.

"Walter Boord was born in Scotland in 1918 and had early childhood memories of living in a big country manor house. He remembered being pushed down a hill in a billy-cart with his curly hair flying behind. His mother was not at all happy and the older boys ran off with Mum after them with a hair brush.

Scotty Boord

Scotty survived the ride and travelled widely with his parents, (his dad was a mining engineer). He came to Australia on the "Largs Bay" and worked at Jervois, south of Adelaide. Scotty joined the army in Adelaide and then later transferred to the Airforce, serving for some time in New Guinea as a heavy machinery operator.

Sometime after the war ended Scotty was working with Doug Stoneham near Renmark when they both were approached and asked to work for the Department of Supply to help build a road to a new project to be named Maralinga. After this road building project was complete both men started working with Len Beadell on the now famous Gunbarrel Road Construction Party. Scotty was an accomplished grader operator who often talked about "Scotty the Bushie" who followed Len Beadell and Doug Stoneham, the bulldozer driver. After Scotty had driven through, "A Road was Born". Scotty spent eight years in the bush and helped construct 7,000 kilometres of road throughout the Great Victoria Desert in Western Australia. During this time Scotty also worked on projects at Woomera and Giles. His dingo trapping exploits made him famous among some of the desert tribes in the bush.

Scotty was the last of five boys and is survived only by his sister, Gertie. Scotty was well known for his Scotsman's farewell which was, "Goodbye and Bugger ya". "

   Our best wishes go to his family & friends.

 

Notes :

 

 

Memorial card coverMemorial card

DOUG STONEHAM

31.1.1928 - 17.1.2006

    After a long battle with cancer Doug Stoneham died on 17 January, 2006. His funeral service was packed with family, friends and colleagues, and held at the Smithfield & Elizabeth Funeral Chapel, Sth Aust, on Friday 20 January. He was buried at nearby Smithfield Memorial Park in a beaut spot, complete with a sweeping country view.

The following Eulogy was read out at the service and will give you a brief idea of his fascinating life.....

 

 

    Getting a start with the Department of Works at Adelaide Airport after the war, Doug spent the next 43 years with them until his retirement as Foreman in 1990.
    Arriving at Maralinga early 1955, Doug met Surveyor Len Beadell and began the work that changed the maps of Australia forever. The Gunbarrel Road Construction Party became well known for bashing in 6,500kms of roads into desert country where no vehicle and few white men had ever been.
    Doug cut the famous Gunbarrel Highway in stages between 1955 and 1958. Giles Weather Station was another landmark for Doug, still in use today and the most remote Weather Station in Australia.
    4 or 5 miles a day, 100 miles a month, Doug and his Dozer with 3 passes to clear the Spinifex & Mulga kept tracking. Covered in dust, sweat, flies and Mulga sticks, Doug loved every minute of it.
    The Sandy Blight Junction Road, Gary Junction, Windy Corner & Mt Davies Roads were also the work of Doug Stoneham and his Caterpillar Dozer.
    Completing the desert roads in 1963, Doug returned to the Department of Works. Projects in later years included clean-ups at Maralinga and Emu Atomic sites, Microwave Towers across the Nullarbor, Woomera and back to Giles Weather Station in 1985.
    After retirement it was not long before Doug was back out in the bush again. Travelling with 4WD groups along the roads he cut with the Gunbarrel Road Construction Party. If someone ever chipped him about a tight corner in the track they were quickly told it was a "sweeping curve".
    Around the fire at night Doug would tell yarns about the years spent in some of the harshest country on earth, Len's flashing mirror, the longest towing operation, Ration Truck fires, being "still in the bush", "good jokers" and bad.

    Your attendance today is testament to the man he was.

 

    Thanks Doug.

On behalf of the Beadells' I would like to extend our sympathy to his wife Margaret, daughter Debra and her family.

After knowing Doug all my life, over time we became great mates in our own right during our many desert trips together.

Len arrived early on Jan 17 in his old Land Rover to pick up Doug and take him up to the Dozer; just like old times.
Heaven's road network is about to get an upgrade.....

Connie Sue Beadell & Mick Hutton.

 

 

February 2004

Restoration of Lennie's Bulldozer

 

Dick Smith and Doug Stoneham     Doug Stoneham and Anne Beadell     Doug with Dozer

This very exciting project has been made possible with the assistance of Dick Smith.
Doug Stoneham, Len's bulldozer driver in the Gunbarrel Road Construction Party, was given the honour of starting the engine.

 

P.S. As far as we know the bulldozer is still stored at Dick Smith's property at Gundaroo in southern NSW.

DEDICATION OF THE LEN BEADELL MEMORIAL

"LENNIE’S REST"

AT THE WOOMERA CEMETERY - 2:00 PM SATURDAY 23 MARCH 2002

Adapted from an article by Bruce Henderson, Gibber Gabber 21 March 2002 Volume 53 no.10.

The need to relocate Lennie’s ashes from the main rangehead was twofold. Those visitors to Woomera who wished to view the monument to this remarkable man could not be guaranteed access to the site at times due to activities on the range.  The other reason was that proposed redevelopment at the rangehead would encroach on the site. The ashes were moved in one of the first stages of the project in December 2000. 

Lennie's Rest

The Site:- The Woomera Cemetery was primarily chosen as it would provide unrestricted access to visitors.  However there are several other significant reasons.  The site faces almost to the east and therefore the early morning sun.  When observed it can be an inspirational and invigorating experience.  Len would have seen this colourful event on many occasions during his many years of exploration of the Australian outback.  The primary trig station named “Marsella” by surveyor Joseph Brooks in the mid 1870's is located about 10 kilometres to the east. In his book "Still in the Bush" Lennie describes the significance of Marsella and the role that it would play in the mapping and engineering surveys that were to follow - "Next came the job I had been anticipating as having top priority ever since I heard of this whole business at the Melbourne Observatory’s mantelpiece: the establishment of an accurate pinpoint on the surface of the earth from which all of the surveys we would be doing could originate. This could only be achieved by a long series of precise astronomical observations involving a week of careful readings on the stars at night, with the days spent making calculations." Lennie’s diary records that these readings were done in March 1947. About two kilometres to the north are located the ruins of ‘The Ponds’ outstation which was the initial camp for those who were planning and developing the future Woomera village and the ranges.

The Memorial:- The origin of the stone is unknown.  It is thought to have come from Wild Dog Creek, in the vicinity of the main rangehead, where similar stones can be seen.  It was installed outside the entrance to the Range Centre in the early 1960’s.  The terracotta coloured concrete border at the base of the stone, is the closest match that could be obtained to represent the red of the Australian outback.  The black coloured ironstone gibber stones proliferate the general area of Phillip Ponds and other areas of the range.

Survey:- As a befitting tribute to Lennie’s contribution to the survey of the Woomera area, it was thought that the co-ordination of the memorial as Permanent Survey Mark was appropriate.  My initial inquiries put me in contact with John Harrison of the Institution of Engineering and Mining Surveyors Australia Incorporated.  The Institution accepted the proposal and the necessary representation was made to the Surveyor General.

survey mark at Lennie's Rest

The Project:-  A project of this nature cannot be undertaken by a single person.  It has been necessary to enlist the assistance of a number of people in order for the project to be a success.  Our sincere thanks are extended to the following people who have made this project a success:

To Bruce Henderson: - "Lennie’s Rest" Project Co-ordinator

To Bronte Nagel and Steve Bowyer:-  for retrieving the stone from the rangehead and relocating it to the Woomera Cemetery.

To Wally Lewis:-  for general earthworks and initial installation of the stone.

To Roger Henwood:-  for co-ordinating the relocation of the stone and earth works.

To Bruce Emms:-  for design and manufacture of the concrete formwork.

To John Rasnaacs, Bruce Emms and Bruce Henderson:-  for concrete work.

To Peter Martin of Wagnitz Building Services:-  for the donation of concreting materials.

To Bruce Emms and Lois Capurso :-  for collection and arrangement of the ironstone gibbers.

To John Harrison:-  In conjunction with other members of the Institution of Engineering and Mining Surveyors Australia Incorporated,
for co-ordination of the survey and providing and installing the plaque.

 

 

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