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Surrey Vintage Vehicle Society caters for veteran cars, vintage cars & classic cars, as well as commercials and motorcycles.

:: [  1908 International Harvester Runabout at the Yudnamutana Mine ] ::

Photo received from our Singer expert Simon Bishop (UK) purchased at a UK antiques fair. Photo was notated on the back 'Yudnamutana March 1915'. The people are named as (l to r) D.D. Rosewarne Esq,, L. Keith Ward,  profession 'Foot Geologist', and R. Lockhardt Jack, 'Foot Geologist'. Yudnamutana was a copper mine in the mid 1800s in the arid bit of South Australia where a draught caused the closure as water was not available for the animals being used. Another attempt was made in the early 1900s but abandoned. Perhaps this was part of that attempt. The car is confirmed as a cca 1908 International Harvester Runabout, two cylinders opposed, petrol engine, air cooled. The main unusual thing about the vehicle was the square tank at the front.

Background info on make as advised to Simon Bishop was :  Vehicle is a high wheeler but is unusual in having a steering wheel and a forward tank of some sort which seems to have a sump type drain tap on the underside. Full eliptics rather than transverse springs and sizable kingpins. Seems in good condition so relatively new in 1915? As I said when I first saw the photo, and can now confirm, the vehicle a is indeed a cca 1908 International Harvester Runabout, probably a derivative of the Model A. Front square tank is unusual. Tanks are normally round on early models and were later covered by a dummy 'radiator'. The engines were petrol two cylinder opposed models, air cooled. Later went to water cooling. The two levers visible on the steering column were spark and throttle. The transmission is a two speed forward and the the car went along at around 16 miles per hour top speed. No IH logo as these did not come into regular use until later. 'Radiators' not until 1910.


Subsequent to publishing the above info and photo we were contacted by Geoff Chennells of Adelaide, South Australia, owner of a 1909 International Harvester Buggy and a 1909 Sizaire et Naudin, -  who advised that many years ago he collected what was possibly the bare remnants of the engine of this very car from Witchelina sheep rubbish dump. There was at the time rumour of a chassis/remains of a buggy at Yudnamutana and he eventually managed to get there (it's quite remote, he says!) but unfortunately found nothing. A bit of further research might be possible with the names of the occupants, too; he has a book with a photo of a "tennis day" at Witchelina, with an IHC posing in the foreground.

From: Geoff Chennells : Yudnamutana  As promised, here is the scan from a book called "Marree & the Tracks Beyond" by Lois Litchfield. Regretfully the photo was poor quality to start with, so can't do much with it. The caption is "Tennis at Witchelina c. 1905".  1905 is obviously not correct as a bit early: more likely 1908 or later.  D D Rosewarne comes up as Inspector of Mines, and I would be so bold as to suggest that a "foot geologist" is what we these days refer to as a field geologist. I am still trying to nail just what the box/tank is on the front of the IHC. If a fuel tank it would be round section - cylindrical. It looks to have a drain cock visible beneath. And the wheels look to me as though they are steel shod, rather than solid rubber. Very strange. Second image is our 1909 IHC - with the fuel tank at the front. 

He followed up this email with another:  Some very interesting observations on the IHC courtesy of a good friend here in Adelaide. The vehicle is immobilised and the photo was almost certainly "posed" in that the party of four (one of them taking the photo…) were in another vehicle. …and took the opportunity to take what I am calling "the Yudnamutana Photo". Reason: the gear lever is missing, and the drive sprocket is also missing. Another point - the front tank is a well constructed and detailed (pin striping) job. Most likely a dealer fitted auxilliary fuel tank. Final item of interest is the steel shod (not rubber) tyres. What a fascinating piece of history you have turned up! Thank you so much.

Geoff Chennells also provided a link to a brilliant website dealing with the history of the area, the Yudnamutana Mine and adjacent mines ( ) and the background of the well traveled Mines Inspector DD Rosewarne ( ).  Well worth the read to get the feel of the struggles of early pioneers. Interesting to note that Steam Traction Engines were tried and found a 'miserable failure'.

  Geoff Chennells' 1909 International Harvester Buggy


When all the above info had been determined, Simon Bishop came with a second photo which he said he was obliged to purchase with the first one as part of a 'set'. This one shows Mr D.D. Rosewarne on a donkey. As we now think that the original photo on the International Harvester was 'posed' on a non-roadgoing car, - it would suggest that Mr.  Rosewarne's normal vehicle was a donkey!!! Seems to have all the 'extras'.

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