Who was the motorist? Solved.
I acquired this charming snapshot photo in 2007. Back then, ten years ago, I asked here whether any of my readers knew anything about it. Silence.
After peering closely at the picture I decided the car was probably a Citroen built in the early 1920s. Those disk wheels looked like Citroen wheels, but they had been put on back-to-front. The car had clearly been stripped of excess weight and equipped for a cross-country dash. My first guess that it might have been one of Francis Birtles’ cars was not right. I put the puzzle aside.
On a whim I have just done some searching in the Trove newspaper archive, and cracked the problem inside twenty minutes. My question was answered by a piece in a Darwin newspaper. It’s all become too easy. Here’s the article:
OVERLANDERS ARRIVE FOR DARWIN-MELBOURNE TRIP
“Wizard” Marshall and Morgan Commence Citroen Trip on Monday
Wizard Marshall, overlander from Melbourne, arrived in Darwin last night by train from Katherine. With his mechanic, Mr Morgan, it is Mr Marshall’s intention to establish a record for the Baby Citroen Car. The trip from Melbourne to Darwin was made in 14 days, coming due north after leaving Adelaide. The return journey will be made via Newcastle Waters, Cloncurry, Rockhampton, Brisbane, and Sydney, home to Melbourne.
Mr Marshall anticipates making a record trip from Katherine to Melbourne, The bush fires prevent the journey commencing from Darwin. On their arrival within a few miles of Pine Creek they were turned back by fires, having then run as much risk as even an overlander should, with the 25 gallons of petrol they carried.
On arrival at Pine Creek it was agreed that Mr Marshall should come on by train, while Mr. Morgan stayed with the car and awaited his return. The wonderful condition of the tracks occasioned them a good deal of surprise. The pronounced hospitality with which they were treated by everyone throughout the trip was also a feature they wished to emphasise.
The Baby Citroen is a standard sports model. It arrived at Katherine in excellent condition, and nothing needs attention for the return trip. Mr Marshall is of opinion that reversing the wheels, and thereby widening their track, added considerably to the success of the trip. Having a good clearance, fitted with Michelin tyres, and an engine of 7 h.p. capable of 11; the car has already proved it is eminently suitable for overland journeys. The Plume spirit used gave every satisfaction throughout the trip, which averaged 55 miles to the gallon, some stages of the journey averaging 63 miles.
Mr Marshall, who looks very fit for the task he had undertaken, leaves for Katherine tomorrow and on Monday will commence the trip to Melbourne.
—Northern Territory Times and Gazette, 29 April 1927.