TO THE TOP: With his mates in tow, Gayndah's Ted Callahan drove his 1930 Dodge tilly to Cape York and back.
TO THE TOP: With his mates in tow, Gayndah's Ted Callahan drove his 1930 Dodge tilly to Cape York and back. Felicity Ripper

Taking Ted's tilly to the top

SWAGGING it under the stars, camping amongst the crocodiles, and camp oven cooking every night, over the past three weeks a group of Gayndah men had the trip of a lifetime when they took Ted Callahan's 1930 Dodge tilly to the top of Australia and back.

Mr Callahan and eight of his mates arrived home this week after reaching Cape York on July 24, and despite creek crossings and a lot of sand the tilly returned in one piece.

"There was only a few nights when we were up in the crocodile infested areas that we had to climb inside the back of the dodge to sleep," he said.

One of the group's favourite parts of the trip was travelling through the beautiful country of the Daintree.

"But the best was once we got to the top, to be able to travel right to the top of Australia with 1930 Dodge was a pretty good feat, and people just came out of the woodworks shaking our hands and carrying on."

The entire trip took just three weeks but Callahan said, if it weren't for work commitments, he would have taken longer.

"It's been a lifelong ambition to drive a vintage car up to the cape, since I was a kid me and my brother have talked about it but we never got to do it.

"I've had the Dodge for 20 odd years and my son in law and a few of his mates told me they were going to hep me get up there because they realised I really wanted to do it.

Mr Callahan was accompanied by his son 'Cliffy', Malcolm Slaughter, Ashley Spry, Clinton Spry, Malcolm Spry, Cameron Kirk, Lloyd Markwell and Chris Harvey, who drove alongside the Dodge in two four-wheel-drives and a 1942 Jeep from the Second World War.

The odometer on the 88-year-old Dodge no longer works but Mr Callahan said it handled the 6,000 kilometre round trip like a champion.

"It's a pretty good effort for old Dodgy I tell ya and the beauty is it's never been unregistered in it's life so it's seen for miles," he said.

"It's pretty thirsty though mate, a bit like me."

The vehicle originally came from the South Burnett and has only ever had three owners, one of who only kept it for six months.

"A farmer from Kingaroy had it as a car and then in Second World War, for the farmers to get fuel coupons, they had to have a utility so he made it into a utility and used it on his farm," Mr Callahan said.

"When he died it was sold and I was lucky enough to end up with it."

Mr Callahan said that there is a magic to driving an antique car.

"It's that nostalgia of driving an old car, everyone appreciates it and you see people instantly smile when you drive past," he said.

"You have the windows down and you might be eating dust but that doesn't stop you from smiling and the challenge is rewarding."


Because he hasn't restored the car, Mr Callahan said it brings him happiness to let people hop in, or even have a drive.

He bought his first Dodge, which he also still owns, when he was 17 but he never got around to restoring it.

"It was in pretty bad shape so luckily I came across this one which is the same model and in excellent condition," Mr Callahan said.

"I don't how it all started but when I was 17 I just wanted to play with cars."

The car still has wooden spoke wheels and Mr Callahan said people doubted it would make the trip to Cape York but he reckons he could get another hundred years out of the old tilly.

"It's good solid metal, you can tap on it and you'll find it's hard as a rock and the body work is still strong, it's a testament to the times."

Mr Callahan said he now has a taste for adventuring in his tilly and there are more trips on the horizon.

"The other boys who were with me are going to look for a Dodge too so we might have a convoy and I think we might go out to Ayers Rock or something next year.

"I think it's going to be an ongoing thing now."