From the Blog

Trying times

Well, I’m home after a drive down to Temora for Allan’s funeral. It was a sombre affair, as funerals always are but it was heartening to see a large attendance of his friends and acquaintances as well as some of the workmates with whom he shared 44 years at the Nuclear Lab at the ANU. The funeral was held in the museum, surrounded by iconic aeroplanes from Australia’s aviation history including this glorious MkVIII Spitfire, the only one in Australia.

Allan’s workmates spoke of his work ethic, his brilliance as a fitter/machinist and his former boss, the boss of the ANU Nuclear department, Professor Andrew Stutchbery, spoke of the innovations that Allan had introduced into the organisation. He spoke of how Allan had designed and built pieces of experimental equipment that were needed for the work that the lab was carrying out. Such equipment was not available, indeed, nobody even knew that it would be needed, but, responding to the needs of the lab, Allan designed, built and tested extremely technical and complex machines that are still being used today, years after they first went into service. Indeed, Prof Stutchbery was at pains to point out that scientists still come from all over the world to use the lab because no other labs have the equipment that the ANU lab has and none have the high-tech gear that Al designed and built. Such was the modesty of the man, of course, he never told us anything of these world-first innovations that he had created.

The lectern was placed at the end of the hangar and, behind it was Al’s beloved Auster and the 1948 Land Rover that he had restored from a barn find back in the early 80’s.

Photo by John Morgan

It was a privilege to be asked to speak at the funeral and I was glad that the opportunity was provided because it gave me a brief opportunity to talk about the Al I knew, the recreational side of Allan Harding. I owe a big thank you to Lloyd Galloway, another of Allan’s understudies, for the opportunity to do so. It was also a great opportunity to spend some time with a couple of my old CRRC buddies, John Morgan and Pete Raby and his wife. Old friends are definitely the best friends.

It was cold in Temora and the drive home yesterday morning was one of those days that made me glad that Toyota see fit to equip their vehicles with excellent heaters. I got home about lunch time and was glad to be so as the wind was picking up and spending any more time on the road was not something that I really wanted to do.

This morning I woke up to the news that William Dunlop had been killed in a practice crash for the road races at Skerries in Northern Ireland. What a tragic history this family has had. William’s uncle, the famous Joey Dunlop, died in a road race in Estonia in 2000 and William’s dad, Robert died in a crash at the North West 200 in 2008. Why do they do it? I really have no idea.

The wind has died down a little now and the sun is shining but not enough to entice me outside. Normally I would be getting ready for  blat up Macquarie Pass at this time on a Sunday, but it was single digit temperature up there yesterday when I was passing through so the bike will be staying in the garage.

Oh, and stay tuned for some news about another bike that is shortly to join the stable. All will be revealed.