Treking with your tractor


It might not be everyone’s idea of a dream holiday, but for members of a WA tractor club, driving their Chamberlain 9Gs through Western Australia’s Mid West region is the perfect adventure. Source: ABC News

Hugh Campbell, from Dongara in WA, is in the midst of an adventure that will take him from the coastal community of Cervantes north to Shark Bay with the club, which does a major trek every two years.

Mr Campbell started the club in 1999 when he began discussing with a friend his plan to drive his tractor from Dongara to Sydney for the Olympic Games.

While he did not make it to Sydney, the tradition of trekking through the bush on a Chamberlain 9G was born.

The next trek will be one of the club’s larger tours, involving over 30 tractors, while this year’s is on a smaller scale, involving six tractors plus support vehicles.

Mr Campbell said interest in the club was continuing to grow. “[In the beginning] we were just going to take one Chamberlain tractor around Australia and then we got that idea out there,” he said. “Next thing we had about 70-odd people ring up wanting to do it.”

The mighty 9G, named so due to its nine-speed gearbox, is a monument to West Australian engineering.

Following on from an earlier 6G model, the tractors were manufactured in the Chamberlain Welshpool factory, and wholly Australian-built.

They were a successfully exported workhorse that quickly developed a reputation as the ‘go-anywhere’ machine.

Now the Chamberlain 9G Club of WA boasts in excess of 40 restored tractors, many of which have completed several journeys across the nation.

Dianne Turnock, who is currently taking part in the trek, said travelling by tractor gave her time to take in the WA scenery.

“We really enjoy it and a few people have asked us why would you want to travel so slow,” she said. “But we really enjoy it because you get to see so much more and we do stop and start quite a bit.”

Another participant, Charlie Gardner, said the tractors could do about 50km/h.

“They do around five to five and half kilometres to the litre,” he said. “That’s rather economical, considering they are pulling your camper trailer.”

The trek is not just about having fun — the participants are raising money for the Royal Flying Doctor Service (RFDS), and children’s hospitals in the various states traversed during the trip.