South Australia

After retrieving the car on arrival at Port Augusta, I wasted no time and headed for Adelaide. It was midday by the time I hit the road. The plan was to call in on two friends that I had worked with in Bunbury and stay for a few days. Heinz Suessenbach (Big Heinz) and Heinz Lipfurt (Little Heinz) were from Liepzig which was behind the Iron Curtain at that time. They had managed to escape and were accepted to settle in Australia, where they started off work on the Snowy Mountain Hydro-Electric Scheme. They lived in Largs Bay, close to Semaphore beach.

I arrived at their house on Fletcher Road and was welcomed like a long lost relative.

“We never thought any of the lads from Bunbury would call in! This is a great surprise. How long are you staying?” asked Big Heinz.

“I thought I would stay a few days so I can have a look around,” I answered.

After catching up on all the news over dinner, we planned the next few days. The weather was beautiful, so after the boys had finished work, we spent some time at the beach.

“You won’t be able to surf here. See that ship on the horizon? I think it’s got wheels,” quipped Little Heinz, referring to the shallowness of the water.

Both Heinz’s worked in the maintenance workshop at the GMH1 Woodville plant. “Why don’t you stay a while? I’m sure you’ll be able to get a job with us at GMH,” suggested Big Heinz. “Then we can show you around on the weekends.”

Having no firm timeline, I quickly agreed. The lads informed the foreman that I was a first-class welder and so a job as a maintenance welder was secured. On my second day on the job, Tuesday 5th November, everyone stopped work and turned on the radio to listen to The Melbourne Cup. I was amazed that a mere horse race could stop the whole country.

1964 Melbourne Cup

Cars were transported from South Australia to all areas of the country. My job was to repair the welds on the two-tier car transport trailers. After travelling on rough country roads, the tubular steel structures fatigued and many of the welds had cracked by the time they were returned to base. I carefully annealed2 all of my welds on completion and was convinced that my welds were superior and would stand the test of time. However, after a while, the same trailers returned and I found myself repairing my own work.

Next: Heinz variety

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  1. General Motors Holden
  2. Heat metal and allow it to cool slowly, in order to remove internal stresses and toughen it.