Fords and Flying Machines – The Diary of Jack McLaren

At 14, Jack McLaren leaves his parents and twin sister behind in Sydney as he heads north to Longreach in Queensland where he is apprenticed as a motor mechanic to his uncle George.

Not only does Jack get to spend his days working on engines, fulfilling his life’s dreams, but he soon has adventures he could never have dreamt of. Jack and George travel on the first automobile to drive the Gulf Track from Longreach to Katherine, accompanying two pilots who are surveying suitable airstrip sites for the great air race from England to Australia.

Snaking their way across the outback, encountering crocodiles and snakes, and contending with punctures, broken axles and breakdowns, Jack and his fellow travellers are sure there is a better way to travel these vast distances. The Queensland and Northern Territory Aerial Service is about to be born, and Jack has a front row seat.

Told in diary format, Fords and Flying Machines is part of the outstanding My Story series, from Scholastic. Author Patricia Bernard manages to explore not just the history of the period (1919-1921), but also the social issues of the time – class, unemployment, gender equality and more.

AN outstanding read for 10 to 14 year olds.

My Story: Fords and Flying Machines – The Diary of Jack McLaren, by Patricia Bernard
Scholastic, 2003