Yarrawonga motorists might have been somewhat surprised on Monday to see a bright orange Chamberlain tractor making its way through town.
‘Tail End Charlie’ is a 1955 Chamberlain Champion Model Tractor with a rich history, built in part on helping people in need.
He has returned to the road – 60 years on – to deliver an important message in partnership with the Prostate Cancer Foundation and Breast Cancer Network – get tested.
In the late 50’s the tractor was a regular in motoring rallies and promotion events, selling the virtues of the Chamberlain to the farming community.
It had been the first model to roll off the production line at the Chamberlain factory in Welshpool, Western Australia and was special because the final drive gearing had been modified to enable a top speed of 60 miles per hour.
In 1957, the Chamberlain was the sweep vehicle in the Mobilgas Round Australia rally, towing the damaged vehicles of many competitors to check points in the 17000km, 19 day adventure.
After repeatedly coming to rescue of unfortunate competitors, the tractor was affectionately nicknamed Tail End Charlie.
Now, many years on, Tail End Charlie has returned to the road again to help people in need – this time by sharing an important health message.
The 60th anniversary of the Mobilgas Round Australia Rally is being celebrated with a re-enactment, using a replica of Tail End Charlie built 10 years ago, to spread the message of looking after your health to regional communities.
The route will take in all mainland states of Australia, travelling 15,000kms, over 57 days promoting cancer awareness programs and the importance of regular health checks along the way.
One of the drivers behind the wheel is Ron Bywaters, 82, a member of the original 1957 Tail End Charlie crew.
The journey began on July 7 and Ron said the crew had heard a lot of touching stories along the way from people who have been impacted by prostate or breast cancer.
“One very moving story was a mother in Darwin who had a serious case of breast cancer and had just undergone a double mastectomy,” he said.
“She also had four close friends with the same problem but her two daughters aged nine and eleven were worried that they, one day, may lose their boobs too.
“As we travel around Australia it is heartbreaking to hear all the stories but we are amazed at the strength of people particularly the females.”
The team was 19 days into their journey last Tuesday when they stopped briefly in Yarrawonga and were on target to raise more than the $22,000 raised in 2007 during a similar journey for the 50th anniversary.
Accompanying each of the drivers are two teddy bears, Elijah who has prostate cancer and Caroline who has breast cancer. The bears assist the team in raising awareness.
This trip is fully funded by the Tail End Charlie crew and all money raised goes to the Prostate Cancer Foundation of Australia and Breast Cancer Network Australia.