Benalla's Vernon Train took on a trip around Australia to test a motorcycle chain in the 1950s.ANGELA TOWNSEND December 12, 2012 4:59am
When two strangers set off to ride motorcycles around Australia in 1953 as part of operation ‘TransMatilda’ they never would have imagined the lifetime friendship they would form — or that they would become brothers-in-law.
It all started when engineer Vernon Train accepted the mission to test the ‘Transmar’ motorcycle chain manufactured by his employer, Benalla-based Renold Chains.
A second rider, Mike Lockyer, joined the ride to verify claims the company hoped to make about the strength and longevity of the chain.
Now these riders are the subject of a newly published book, Operation Transmatilda, which captures the pair’s exploits as they travelled around the country.
Vernon moved to Benalla from Adelaide in 1950 to start work at Renold Chains on Tatong Rd. It was there he met his future wife Rae (nee Banfield) whom he married in May 1952.
Benalla's Vernon Train travelled around Australia by motorcycle in 1953 to test a chain for a Benalla manufacturer.
The following year the keen motorcyclist took on the challenge of testing the chain on the basic roads of 1950s Australia on a Triumph.
‘‘Being selected was one of the highlights of my life,’’ Vernon said.
‘‘It was a wonderful experience to see Australia in the early ’50s when there were virtually no roads — only tracks.
‘‘We saw very little traffic in 11
The chain withstood the elements, although needed some TLC every 1000 miles when it was taken off and cleaned, ready for the next part of the adventure.
The epic 10-week journey started on September 1, 1953. Dubbed a ‘secret operation’, the motorcyclists were sworn to secrecy on their journey — perhaps because the company wanted to ensure the chain lasted the distance.
A big celebration was held at the factory on the day they arrived back in Benalla, with a special function held at the landmark Menzies Hotel in Melbourne (destroyed in 1969) the following week. Both men were presented with gold watches from Renold Chains and Vernon has worn his for the past 59 years.
The motorcycles were displayed on stands at the hotel and Vernon is sad to say he never saw his bike again.
‘‘It took me a long time to settle down at work again after that,’’ he said.
‘‘It was an incredible experience — every day was a different day.’’
Vernon remained a keen motorcyclist until the early 1970s. He headed back to his home city of Adelaide in 1956 but returned to Renold Chains in Benalla four years later, where he remained until 1970. He then worked at Hairs Engineering before setting up his own engineering business in the 1980s which mainly revolved around building towers for racing clubs. He did this from Townsville to Kyneton before retiring at the age of 74. Now 86, Vernon is postitive about life, despite Rae having passed away about three years ago.
‘‘I still enjoy life in Benalla,’’ he said.
Copies of his book, Operation Transmatilda, are available from Vernon for $25. Contact the Ensign for details.
Advertising Standards Bureau slaps McDonald's for offering free fries vouchers to children at SPC Ardmona KidsTown.
Yarrawonga Football Netball Club senior footballer Jeremy O’Brien celebrated his 200th senior Ovens and Murray Football Netball League game against the Wodonga Bulldogs on Saturday.
Following a concerted effort by Merrigum Community Group to upgrade signage in the town, it was announced at last Monday’s community meeting that design of a new information sign, to be located near the bus shelter in Waverley Ave, has been completed.
LBU coach Ady Dohnt headlines the Cats' inclusions for tomorrow's clash with Huntly.
Rochester resident John Constable has received the latest vision scanner available, thanks to Rochester Lions.
100 days at Tongala Primary.
It's not everyday you get 'most sincere thanks' from the Queen - as a Seymour girl found out.
St Joseph's Jerilderie teacher Steve Jones has released an album with his band, Steve Jones and The Velvet Glove.
The district has shivered during the past couple of weeks with night temperatures falling below zero. For those prepared to brave the winter chill, Lake Eppalock offers stunning scenery and yellow wattle brightens district forests.
Black Dog ride participants meet up in Cobram before they burn rubber to beat the blues.
Deniliquin woman Georgia Henderson calls on Member for Farrer Sussan Ley to come out in support of same-sex marriage.
Wheat crops sown at the end of April to mid-May were two to three weeks early, increasing the risk of frost damage, the Finley Discussion Group’s meetings earlier this month heard.
John 'Jack' Roe remembered as a gentleman; battle-scared but a genuine, dignified man of integrity.
Discover unbelievable local deals from local businesses every week in the Goulburn and Murray Valley area with Leapon.com.au!
Search properties for sale or rent across North Central Victoria and Southern NSW. Visit your local website for local homes....
Search for published and unpublished photos from McPherson Media Group newspapers and magazines. All our photos are available to purchase.
Place an advertisement in any one of McPherson Media Group's local newspapers.