Tom Kruse Mini-Leyland

OK, don't run away, let me clear a couple of things up for you!

I haven't spelt Tum Kruse (Cruise) incorrectly - this is a DIFFERENT Tom Kruse!

And this isn't a toy that I'm trying to pass off as a real truck.

It's a 1/3 scale model which has been built as a tribute to a VERY legendary Australian of old.

So look at the pictures of this VERY cool Mini-Mail-Truck, and I'll tell you a bit about Tom Kruse and the real version of this truck at the end.

The Mini Leyland is built on top of an electric Golf Buggy!

It is used as part of an education program by the Australian National Motor Museum, in Birdwood, South Australia

Students get to load and drive the little replica in an enactment of the Real truck's Australian Outback journeys!

The Story of Tom Kruse, the man behind the Truck!

(References taken from Wikipedia and information at the Birdwood Mill)

Tom's real name was Esmond Gerald Kruse. He was awarded an MBE (Not a common thing in Australia!), which may give you a bit of an idea how much he contributed to early Australia.

Tom was born on 28 August 1914, the 10th of 12 children! and died not so long ago, 30 June 2011. He was a former mail carrier on the Birdsville Track in the border area between South Australia and Queensland - a desolate and rarely travelled road in what is called the Australian Outback. The track was the scene of many breakdowns and travel tragedies in the early years.

An old picture of the Birdsville Track that I took in 1986!

After being forced to "Go Bush" in the Great Australian Depression, 1934 to be exact, he worked as a Truck Driver hauling goods in the mid-north of South Australia.

In 1936 Tom started working the Birdsville Mail Run, and eventually bought the Mail Contract in 1947, doing the long lonely run until 1963.

Tom became famous as the result of John Heyer's 1954 film The Back of Beyond, and in the year after the film's release, in the 1955 New Year Honours, Kruse was appointed Member of the Order of the British Empire (MBE) for "services to the community in the outback".

The movie followed Tom on a "typical" journey, meeting the various people and characters he interacted with along the way, and the obstacles he encountered and overcame. In reality the movie was quite heavily scripted and glamorised, with a plot added for extra interest.

But the movie showed a side of Australia the world (and probably most suburban Aussies!) had never thought was remotely real, and was a look at an amazing world that is now passed into the annals of time and legend.

Back to the Truck!

Tom abandoned the truck on Pandie Pandie Station near Birdsville in 1957 (after a major break down).

In 1986 A Jubilee Mail Run was re-enacted, and the Old Truck discovered. In 1993 a group of enthusiasts retrieved the truck (Known as The Badger).

Between 1996 and 1999 a group of volunteers led by Tom restored the truck to its' original working condition, and gifted it to the People of Australia.

The Truck now lives the National Motor Museum in Birdwood, South Australia.

Now you probably expect me to reel off a few pictures of the old girl, and I'm going to have to disappoint you. I *HAVE* previously taken pictures, but for the life of me I can't find them, so here's a link to a site called "Last Mail From Birdsville", which has a lot more of the story if you are interested (and pictures too).

If you would like to see pictures of the old Truck as it is today, let me know in the comments and if there is enough interest I'll take a drive up to t'mill for you all and take some :)

Join in

Comments (11)
  • That 1/3 scale electric truck would be very handy around geological exploration camps.

    1 month ago
  • Really cool story. Very interesting. Going into the outback of Australia is not to be taken lightly. Let alone back then 😳. That’s a hero for sure

    Great post πŸ‘πŸΎπŸ‘πŸΎπŸ‘πŸΎ

    1 month ago
    2 Bumps

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