Australian Screen

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Overland Adventure: The Story of the 1954 Redex Reliability Trial (1954)

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clip ‘A great day for the Murrays’ education content clip 2, 3

This clip chosen to be PG

Clip description

‘Gelignite’ Jack Murray and his navigator and co-driver Bill Murray cross the finish line first at the Sydney Showground to loud cheers. At the State Theatre in Sydney, the Redex managing director and president of the Sporting Car Club present the Murrays with a cheque for £2,200. Crackers can be heard in the background for ‘Gelignite’ Jack. The audience applauds as Jack receives the trophy.

Teacher’s notes

provided by The Le@rning FederationEducation Services Australia

This black-and-white clip from Cinesound’s documentary Overland Adventure shows the reception given to the winners of the 1954 Redex Round Australia Endurance Trial – 'Gelignite Jack’ Murray and Bill Murray. The clip opens with their arrival at the finishing line in Sydney. This is followed by scenes at the State Theatre where they are presented with cheques totalling £2,200 and the race trophy. Fireworks sound in the background. The soundtrack consists of fast-paced commentary, celebratory music and live background sound.

Educational value points

  • This clip focuses on two of the men most associated in the public mind with the 1954 Redex Endurance Trial – 'Gelignite Jack’ Murray, the driver of the winning Ford V8, and Bill Murray, the navigator and co-driver. In 16 stages over 15,000 km of the longest endurance trial in the world at the time, they did not lose a single point for completing a stage too early or too late. They maintained the required average speeds over the roughest dirt tracks.
  • Jack Murray was one of Australia’s most experienced and colourful long-distance endurance drivers at the time. He had competed in the 1953 Trial but failed to finish. He earned the nickname Gelignite Jack through his habit of blowing up outback toilets and livening up his entrance to towns along the route. It was said he went one step further during the 1954 Trials by throwing sticks of gelignite near cars he wanted to pass, forcing them to turn out of his way.
  • The Murrays’s Ford V8, seen here arriving at Sydney Showground, was one of 25 Fords entered in the event. All the popular marques of the time were represented – some, such as Holden and Ford, in considerable numbers. Holden had 34 FX cars in the Trial. Fifteen Standard Vanguards were also entered while Peugeot, the previous year’s surprise winner, had 11 entrants. Coming in second behind the Murrays’s Ford was a Peugeot, while a Holden was third.
  • The 1954 Trial was the second of the three famous Redex Endurance Trials that catapulted on-road motor sport in Australia into the public eye. The Trials were enormously popular, attracting the most adventurous male and female drivers of the time. After the success of the 1953 Trial Australia’s two newsreel companies, Cinesound and Movietone, produced segments focusing on almost every aspect of the Trials. Radio broadcasts carried news and results daily.
  • In 1954 driving any considerable distance was an endurance feat in itself and for the average driver the thought of driving around Australia was inconceivable. Very few roads were sealed. The main exceptions were the single-lane Hume and Pacific highways. In country areas almost all roads were potholed, dusty in dry weather and muddy when wet. In the outback, formed and graded roads were virtually non-existent.
  • The clip uses various film techniques to add interest to the final scenes of the documentary, which lack the fast-paced action of the actual Trial footage. The action moves quickly from the finishing line to the presentation, with a newspaper headline graphic superimposed on the footage. The footage of the presentation is edited to keep the main speech very brief, and is combined with shots of the amused audience and the background noise of the fireworks.

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australianscreen is produced by the National Film and Sound Archive. By using the website you agree to comply with the terms and conditions described elsewhere on this site. The NFSA may amend the 'Conditions of Use’ from time to time without notice.

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  • The National Film and Sound Archive’s permission must be sought to amend any information in the materials, unless otherwise stated in notices throughout the Site.

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