At 13.00 hours on Wednesday the 26th December a gun will fire signifying the start of the 74th running of the ‘Sydney to Hobart Yacht Race’.
However, it is no longer known as The Sydney to Hobart Yacht Race; it’s now the ‘Rolex Sydney to Hobart Yacht Race’.
Mores the pity!
No doubt there will, as usual, be much merry making, drinking and partying, (not by those taking part in the race) on ‘The Harbour’ prior to and after the yachts take sail, with plenty of excitement, and ‘hopefully’ some thrills; read near misses, fist waving, threats as the boats jostle, and fight, their way out through the heads, and head south.
The race is now for the maxi yachts; a giant, moving, real life, real time, advertisement. for Insurance companies, car manufacturers, television networks, well someones got to pay for the crew it, you can’t expect those poor owners of these vessels to pay for everything can you? Just look at the air time the sponsors get especially if their boat wins. Do the hard working crew get a decent bonus for a win?
We can hope so, officially there’s no money for the winner, just a trophy.
For the non maxi’s? Good luck!
Now what’s all this got to do with the title of this rant? you should be asking, well. I plan to tell, you even if you were not wondering.
A few years back, 58 to be precise, I was working for Ansett – ANA as a ‘Traffic Officer at Melbourne Airport, that was at Essendon, not to be confused with Tullermarine, back then air travel was still an experience.
People dressed for the occasion, men in suits, wearing ties, ladies with gloves, some in hats, everyone on their best behaviour. It was all very pleasant, civilized and for many, most exciting. Nothing like watching the propellers spinning away. Kind of like comparing a steam train/engine with a diesel!
The largest planes in both the domestic airline carriers fleets was the Lockheed L188 Electra. At Ansett we referred to them as the “Goose”, they were the aircraft that lined the company coffers.
They were big! Seating capacity 33F/48T 33 first class and 48 tourist.
Yep! 81 passengers, max! ( The A380-800 is certified to carry 868 but the company feel that 544 is a more comfortable number of pax). the A380 is more than ten times the size.
‘Traffic Officers’ with the airlines in the 50’s and 60’s were the front line troops, and like the military back then, it was men only.
We did just about everything, except fly the aircraft. We were responsible for meeting, checking the pax, and their luggage, the loading of baggage, freight, the trimming of the plane; the catering and the cleaning; we usually had 20 minutes to turn the aircraft around,from the moment the motors shut down.
Mind we had loaders to load, cleaners to clean and caterers to stock up the bar!
‘Tarmac Control’, marshalling the aircraft into their slots, was also part of our job, and my favourite task. There’s a funny story to tell about The Beatles, me, and the tarmac control, which I might get around to one day.
All the pilots did was fly the thing, whilst the hostesses served the food, drink and booze! The pay was good, and the uniform was smart! 😈
Good front line T.O’s got to know the regular travellers, they were usually denoted as XV on the passenger waybill, no computers back then, and we’d get to know most of their idiosyncrasies,; and the event taking place next Wednesday brings back memories of two of them. Brothers; John & Frank Livingstone.
Sir Robert Menzies, the Prime Minister at the time referred to them as ‘The Mad Livingstone’s”, I believe his reason being, is that their father, who had been a Member of Parliament, and anyone who was, or had been, had to have been mad, as was their offspring; or some such nonsense. ( you might need to go away and think about that last lot!).
Frank and John were bachelors, born around 1903/1904, there was only a year between them. They had a sister Emily, more about Emily later; they were very wealthy ‘cockies’; with property in Mt. Gambia, South Australia. They also had a great love of sailing and travel.
Ansett’s were the only airline that served Mt Gambier; one flight a day to Adelaide one to Melbourne. To be precise Adelaide/Mt Gambier/Melbourne; Flight 237 returning as Flt.238, Melbourne/Mt Gambier/Adelaide departed Essendon at 14.50 daily. So we got all their business.
The flight was always serviced by a Viscount 700 series aircraft; max capacity around 60/62 pax. Sometimes it would go off with just 3 pax, The Livingstone brothers and Emily.
It seemed possible that the only reason Ansetts serviced Mt Gambier was to get the Livingstone business, they certainly utilized it, and many of our other services too, Melbourne /Sydney in particular comes to mind.
Back then if you wanted/needed to fly overseas from, Australia the only way out was Sydney. Melbourne had one flight; a BOAC Comet to England, every Wednesday, I can’t remember about the Sandgropers, I think they had to make their way east to get out of Australia. Bit different these days.
I’m not sure of the year, it may have been 1960, or perhaps ’61, Now Christmas Day was a very quiet day for airlines back then, very few flights, anyway the Livingstone’s 3 arrived, heading home to Mt Gambier, and the Hostess on the “Information Desk” called to one of the bros to take a phone call.
Was the skipper of the yacht the Kurrewa IV, to say that the cook had been taken sick, and carted off to hospital; didn’t have anyone to do the cooking for the voyage, should they pull out of the race? The race took a few days in the 50’s and early 60’s.
” No problem; I’ll go” says Emily, tuppence ha’penny worth high, and well into her 60’s, so she took the next flight up to Sydney, and worked the galley all the way to Hobart.
I must admit I was full of admiration for Miss Livingstone after that.
To this day the Kurrewa IV holds the record for the number of times it won the coveted ‘Line Honours’ award, I suppose one of the multi-million dollar maxi’s, will eventually beat the record, but it certainly wont have the history and character of The Kurrewa IV; she was built around 1911 a 65′ cutter and named the Morna. When Frank and John bought her they renamed her.
The Livingstone’s never struck me as mad, whatever Bob Menzies may have said, they were slightly eccentric, they were dinki di Australians, no doubt about that, and a bit forgetful.
I can recall one afternoon, checking them in for a flight home, our senior driver came in to speak to one of them. In the bad old days a senior driver, and drivers, were essential, we had parking facilities, transport facilities, everything was more personalized; and on this occasion the senior driver was a bit concerned.
Seems that Mr John Livingstone had left his new Ford Fairlane, in the secure parking at the airport, some weeks previous, and the s.d was a bit concerned. and thought it best to mention it.
” Oh good” exclaims John L. ” I thought I’d lost it!”,
True. Not mad, just eccentric.