Raoul Island transport

By Clyde Williams

We had at our disposal on Raoul Island the following motorised transport:

  • 2-ton Ford lorry
  • lying on its side at the very back of the implement shed a distressed-looking army Indian motor cycle, obviously waiting to be transported to the dump
  • Farmall H 3-wheel tractor (little wheel at front and two big ones at the back)
  • D7 crawler tractor
Ford truck on Raoul Island, 1950

The Ford truck on Raoul Island, 1950. Photo: Clyde Williams

I learned to drive in the Ford truck and I will admit to being the culprit inflicting two of the dents on the right front mudguard.

I had never ridden a motorcycle before but, with the mechanic’s advice, I managed to get the motorcycle going. Only 1st and 2nd of the three gears could be used and the brakes were shoddy, but it was capable of being ridden. I used that motorcycle frequently when goat shooting, combined with trips to Fishing Rock and to Boat Cove (the alternate landing place on the southeastern corner of the island).

Clearly there was someone looking after me because the island roads – hilly, twisty, narrow, just dirt and generally with steep drops on one side and high banks on the other – were extremely challenging.

Farmall H tractor

A Farmall H tractor. Photo: Creative Commons

The Farmall met its end during my time on the island, going down one of the steep bits when its driver lost control.

Over the bank and down to the sea it went with the Niuean driver managing to leap clear, very shaken but otherwise unhurt.

The landing place at Fishing Rock, Raoul Island, November 1949

The landing place at Fishing Rock, Raoul Island, November 1949. Photo: Clyde Williams

That month was a particularly bad one. Just a couple of weeks after the Farmall incident, the Fishing Rock crane went into the sea.

While being lowered down from the crane shed, it slid on oil that had been spilt on to the rails and when reaching the concrete end block it “looped the loop” into the sea.

Some years later the D7 was virtually abandoned as beyond repair, although subsequently a mechanic did get it running. [See video]

Clyde Williams was a radio operator at Raoul Island 1949-1950.