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Coming across Gundagai


Hitchhiking out of Melbourne
Norman Greenwood Scientist
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So, talking about Australia, outside Melbourne – though not all Melbournites would agree that there was anything outside – let me tell you a little bit about a trip that I took at the end of my MSc. The thesis was finally handed in, it had to be assessed along with the others who had written, and that process was going to take about a month, so I decided I would go on a hitchhike. I already knew that I was going to go to England, and so I thought I'd better find out something about Australia outside Victoria, and certainly outside Melbourne, so I decided to hitchhike with one of my fellow students, Jim Banfield, who unfortunately didn't join me in the end, so I had to set off alone; he joined me up in Brisbane, which was about 2000 miles further north. But what I did was to set off from Trinity College, where I was a resident tutor as I've explained, and I went to the end of the tram line up on the Sydney Road, and then waited, and within about 10 minutes the first car came and I got a lift, and then another lift, and it was all going very fine. And in fact some people had said they'd been able to hitchhike to Sydney, which is nearly 500 miles, about 800 kilometres, in one day, 24 hours. I didn't manage that, but I did do it in two days.

But on one occasion, I got in with an air force type who was driving an air force truck back to Tocumwal, which was where the Air Force base was, and I'd already noticed, crossing the Murray River, and into the Riverina and towards the Murrumbidgee, that there were guards, soldiers, posted at particular points, and this, I think, was an aftermath of the war. But he had the habit of stopping at each little township – 'Let's stop for a swift snort' – and a swift snort would be two or three pints of beer, and then he'd drive off again – different, again, from today.

Norman Greenwood (1925-2012) was born in Australia and graduated from Melbourne University before going to Cambridge. His wide-ranging research in inorganic and structural chemistry made major advances in the chemistry of boron hydrides and other main-group element compounds. He also pioneered the application of Mössbauer spectroscopy to problems in chemistry. He was a prolific writer and inspirational lecturer on chemical and educational themes, and held numerous visiting professorships throughout the world.

Listeners: Brian Johnson

Professor Brian FG Johnson FRS, FRSE, FRS Chem, FAcad Eu, FAS. Professor of Inorganic Chemistry University of Edinburgh 1991-1995, Professor of Inorganic Chemistry University of Cambridge 1995-2005, Master Fitzwilliam College Cambridge 1999-2005. Research interests include studies of transition metal carbonyls, organometallic chemistry, nano- particles and homogeneous catalysis. Professor Johnson is the author of over 1000 research articles and papers.

Tags: Australia, Melbourne, UK, Victoria, Brisbane, Sydney Road, Sydney, Tocumwal, Murray River, Riverina, Murrumbidgee River, Jim Banfield

Duration: 2 minutes, 27 seconds

Date story recorded: May 2011

Date story went live: 25 November 2011