Tuesday, August 26, 2008


With the 50 bucks I made prizefighting that weekend I bought myself an old 1947 ex-army Harley Davidson motorbike. I got it from Gary Breaney who had purchased it from a farmer that had purchased it from a company in Sydney which dealt in ex-army surplus.

Anyone who saw me on that old Harley would take an instant bet with his mate about the longevity of my young life.

In the time that I had him, I only fell off twice and luckily for me that happened to be in the mud doing 25 miles an hour. Still, having a bike that size fall on one’s leg was not a very pleasant experience.

I decided to sell the old bike so I put the word out around Giltraps’ Hotel that I wanted 80 bucks for him. A few days later a bloke called Harry Plunkett knocked on mi hotel door.

“How ya going Harry?”, I said as I opened the door.
“Gooday Yorky. I came to see about the old Harley ya’ got for sale.”
“Come in mate and sit down.”
“How much ya’ want for the old bike, mate?”
“80 bucks and he’s yours, Harry.”
“No worries mate”, he said as he pulled out his wallet and peeled of four 20s’ from a large wad of bills.
As I handed the rego papers to him I said,
“Have ya ever ridden a Harley before?”
“Yeah, hundreds of times mate. I used to ride ‘em in the army.”
“Alright, no worries mate. Then you’ll know about the advance and retard spark for easier starting, eh?”
“Yeah. Just show me where it is mate, that’s all.”

We walked down the passageway and out onto the main street. I showed Harry how to retard the spark which made it much easier to kick-start the big, old bike.

“If ya don’t retard the spark, Harry, it’s got so much compression it will kick like a bloody horse, so don’t forget mate.”
“No worries Yorky. I’ve ridden thousands of these old bangers.”

I threw mi leg over the bike and turned the key and screwed back the spark. It still took all of my weight kicking down on the kick-start before the old bike would fire up.
Once he was merrily popping away I got off and handed it over to Harry.

“Good luck mate and be careful on him, he’s a bloody big bike.”
“No worries!” said Harry as he pulled out from the curb, just missing a passing car.
“Be careful!”, I yelled out to him but my voice was drowned out by the sound of the slow-popping exhaust.

Sometime towards the end of the week, I was in Giltraps’ watching the news on the barroom TV that sat on a shelf, high up on the wall so it couldn’t get busted in the fights that took place at various times. Halfway through the news a wheat cocky walked in and ordered a middy. After he sat down with his beer he said to me,
“Hey Yorky, did’ya sell your old Harley to Harry Plunkett?
“Yeah mate. Why?”
“I thought ya’ must have ‘cause I just saw him start it up at the garage over the road. He must have forgotten to retard the spark on it ‘cause when he jumped down on the kick pedal from the side, it threw him over the handle-bars and it still didn’t start.”

A few days later another bloke said he saw Harry go straight through the neighbors corrugated tin fence without even losing his hat.

I never saw Harry much after he’d bought the bike and sometimes I wondered if he was still around or riding through the clouds on an ‘Astral’ Harley.