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Brush Around Australia (2001)

By Bob Lamond

In April 2001 a 65 years young Aussie, Bob Lamond of Mudgee NSW, with Keith Edwards of Sydney and John Simmons of Beechwood NSW, will set out in his 1910 BRUSH to drive 14,300km clockwise “Around Australia” from Sydney to Sydney.

The expedition has been endorsed as a National Event of Australia’s Centenary of Federation. Bob has a link with the Federation, as his great grandfather William G Spence was a member of the first Federal Parliament in 1901.

A major objective of the Brush Team is to collect funds for the fight against Cancer. The Team recently lost a very dear friend to Cancer and the Australian Cancer Society and each of its member bodies have authorised the team, and offered their assistance, to collect donations “On the road” and at each overnight stop.

We are looking for a major Australian National company to join the Brush Team, contribute to the costs and assist us with the logistics of the expedition. To date we have had nothing but tales of woe of overcommitted budgets etc. etc. So, if you are interested to help in a very historic expedition Bob would welcome a call on 0409 712 101.

Since purchasing the 1910 BRUSH in 1980, Bob has researched the background of the historic first automobile crossing of Australia in 1912 from Fremantle to Sydney by Syd Ferguson, driver and Francis Birtles, adventurer and navigator, in a 1910 BRUSH.

The long forgotten story of Birtles is the story of a true adventurer in the early 1900’s. In short he was born in Melbourne in 1882, at 17 had been twice around the world before the mast in sailing ships, fought in the Boer war, in 1905 returned to Perth and, short of funds, cycled 3,000 miles across Australia to Sydney – the first man to do so! In 1907 he cycled 8,300 miles Sydney, Brisbane, Darwin, Alice Springs, Adelaide and back to Sydney! In 1909 he repeated his Fremantle-Sydney expedition and in 1911 he cycled 10,175 miles Sydney, Darwin, Broome, Fremantle and back to Sydney! Remember at that time there were few roads of any quality, mostly camel or bullock tracks.

That is why Birtles was asked to be the navigator for the 1912 crossing of Australia in a 1910 BRUSH. The BRUSH trip took 28 days, only 3 days less than Birtles 1911 bike trip – Syd Ferguson did all the driving as Birtles could not drive. Birtles soon learnt to drive and did many trips around and across Australia in Model T Fords and in 1926 in a BEAN car set a record from Darwin to Melbourne and, again in a BEAN was the first to drive from London to Sydney in 1927. Birtles was also an author and his books of his many trips; particularly “Lonely Lands” make fascinating reading.

Truly he deserved his title as “Australia’s Greatest Overlander”. Birtles was also a keen photographer and this is a picture of “THE BRUSH”, in 1912 with Syd at the wheel, at the South Australia / West Australia border post.

To celebrate the 80th anniversary of the 1912 expedition, in 1992 Bob together with John Simmons and Sandy Munroe, drove his 1910 Brush from the beach at Fremantle with the wheels in the Indian Ocean to the Pacfic Ocean at Circular Quay, Sydney- 4,100 km over 18 days, driving for 102 hours at an average speed of 40kph.

As Bob said in an interview on their arrival in Sydney “whilst the roads are 80 times better the BRUSH is 80 years older !”

In 1996 Bob and John drove the 1910 BRUSH from Darwin to Melbourne to commemorate Birtles record run in the BEAN in 1926. Tragedy struck after they had covered 4,326km “Across Australia” on their last day before arriving in Melbourne, 140 km from the finish – a knock in the motor and the crankshaft broke ! So near but yet so far ! The celebrations in Melbourne were cancelled and a shattered BRUSH and two shattered drivers returned to Sydney. Two years later, on the occasion of a Victorian veteran rally Bob unloaded the BRUSH on the same spot where the crankshaft broke and drove in to Melbourne and finally delivered to the Mayor of Melbourne the 1996 letter from the Mayor of Darwin!

The 1910 BRUSH is a very unique motor vehicle – one cylinder of 1,000 cc - the motor runs in reverse – yes you crank it counter-clockwise – no windscreen or hood – the chassis is timber – American hickory – and surprise surprise the axles are also timber ! The timber axles and chassis together with the suspension of 4 coil springs in extension and fibre disc shock absorbers give the BRUSH great flexibility over rough ground,which must have been a real asset on the 1912 expedition.

Ask Bob why he has driven his BRUSH twice ‘Across Australia” and now plans an expedition “Around Australia” and you will hear of his love of the Australian countryside, his pride in the important role played by the early motor vehicles in the development of our country and his great pride in the achievements of the 1910 Brush.

Willie Nelson’s song “On The Road Again” is the Brush teams theme song and reflects Bob’s love of driving his BRUSH “Across and Around Australia”

Bob is a keen member of the Veteran Car Club of Australia-NSW and has rallied the Brush continuously since 1981, in NSW and many interstate rallies .

This historic expedition has been approved by the Veteran Car Club of Australia and the Brush team will receive the support of club members as the Brush travels “Around Australia”

The 2001 expedition of 14,300 km will take the Brush team around 80 days, 60 days driving with 20 rest days and exhibition days. Keith Edwards joins the team for this expedition and several friends will fly in to give the team members a break. The BRUSH will cover an average of 240 km a day at average speed of 40kph. At that speed Bob says you can see both sides of a blade of grass !

A typical day starts at around 6.00am with breakfast for Bob, who, as an early riser gets the first driving stint. Crank up the BRUSH and off he goes – the rest of the Brush team get to sleep in till 7.30am, then breakfast and off to catch the BRUSH. The Toyota Landcruiser tows an enclosed trailer with warning signs on the rear cautioning drivers of the presence of a slow vehicle ahead. Experience on the two earlier crossings has proved that our truckies are very considerate and, on single-track roads in Northern Queensland, took to the dirt to allow the BRUSH the good road. Indeed Bob tells of the driver of a 3 trailer road-train in the Northern Territory, who on sighting the BRUSH loudly sounded off his air horns and overtook the BRUSH giving it a wide clearance – a few km’s later there parked on the roadside was the road-train with the driver standing on the roof camera in hand ready to get his photo. The BRUSH drivers have hundreds of stories of their experiences “On the road” – statistics to date show that 80% of passing cars give them a good wave and lots of horn honking! Sadly around 1 in 5 cars don’t respond to the wave from the BRUSH driver- staring ahead with often a glazed look and travelling around 140kmph – are they enjoying our beautiful countryside?

There is a change of drivers after Bob has travelled 100km, a quick refuelling and off for the next 100km – lunch is taken “on the road” – you get quite adept at catching fruit and drinks as you whistle past the backup team at 40kmph ! Another driver change at 200 km and then the balance of the days run into our overnight stop.

We aim to arrive at our destination before 3.00pm as we have appointments to visit the local primary school [photo at Coolgardie Primary 1992] where we show the students the BRUSH, tell them a little of the history and on this trip a little about the formation of the Federation. After giving a few rides and much horn blowing we move on to an appointment with a local aged care/retirement village to show the BRUSH to our older citizens. The look on the faces of the children and our older citizens makes the day well worthwhile. Off to the motel, complete check over the BRUSH, put it to bed under its cover, and then showers, dinner and a drink or two for the team.

After dinner we plan to meet with local car clubs or other community groups, show them the Brush and give a short talk on its history and the history of the car in Australia’s development. A little talk on the celebration of Australia’s Federation and a fun trivia quiz and finish with a collection for the fight against Cancer.

Two Australian icons – the Koala and the 1910 BRUSH

The Brush Team hopes you have enjoyed our tale and if you share our dreams we may see you “On The Road Again” as did our Koala friend – somewhere “Around Australia” - please give us a wave, honk your horn and enjoy our great country.

We welcome contact from local car clubs at our overnight stops - please visit our website at for details of our itinerary and you can email us at

HAPPY motoring from THE BRUSH TEAM


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