Rob & Carol's  HOMEPAGE


Model A Ford & camper - 1932

Sir Hans Heysen's landscapes of the Flinders Ranges, 'Droving into the Light', 'The Three Sisters of Aroona', 'Hills of Arkaba', 'Ramparts of the Wilpenas' and 'Guardian of the Gorge' are but a few of the renowned paintings the artist is famous for.

His first trip into the Flinders Ranges was in 1926 catching a train to Quorn where he stayed at the Transcontinental Hotel for a few days making sketches of the surrounding area before continuing on to Hawker and the Royal Hotel. From there he jumped onto the mail truck to Wilpena Station. Although Wilpena made little impact on him, the country between the Pound & Hawker certainly took his attention.

The following year Hans along with friend Joyner, headed for Oraparinna Station where they were invited by the properties lessee, Mr KP Sawer to spend a few weeks at an outstation in the beautiful Aroona Valley with Eddie Pumpa & his wife. The pug and pine hut was within walking distance of some of the most scenic country the Flinders had to offer including Brachina Gorge.

From this base Hans produced many sketches & watercolours. Eddie drove them to locations in his 1922 model Ford where he would drop the two off, do his work & then come back to retrieve them.

In 1928 Hans was back in the Flinders roaming a week or two on station trucks beyond Blinman and in 1929 he stayed with Eddie Pumpa once again, this time at the Wonoka Hotel as the depression had forced Eddie off the land. In 1930 he repeated the trip.

Eddie Pumpa had agreed to take him further north in 1931 but after arriving in Hawker he witnessed the devastating floods in Hawker and a month long camping trip was out of the question. He caught the train back to Adelaide.

At the end of 1931 Hans bought a small trailer-caravan with collapsible sides and roof. Along with son David, driver of the Model A Ford Roadster, they would camp as they travelled. The pair gave the trailer a trial run south of Adelaide and set out for the far north in March 1932. They did a repeat trip to the far north in 1933 with the camper. David was delighted to find his campsite improvements from the previous year still intact, the wireless pole, doorstep and stone table all ready for use. The five week stay on the Brachina was probably the best that Han's had ever spent in the Flinders.

reference: Heysen of Hahndorf by CM Thiele, (Adel, 1968)

the camper

The camper was built by a Mr Norman at premises on the corner of Fullarton and Glen Osmond Roads, Parkside in Adelaide and was restored in the 1980's. Hans had used it as a bird aviary for many years.

I had the privilege to be shown through the camper by Sir Hans Heysen's grandson Peter Heysen at the painters former home, The Cedars, at Hahndorf in the Adelaide Hills, where it is on display. The camper is constructed with a wooden frame, ply paneling & a canvas roof. The flyscreen windows once had removable canvas covers for bad weather.

Setting up is a simple task of the canvas roof being unclipped, three stringer supports being removed & the triangle ends placed on the ground. The four hinged flyscreen sides are then lifted up & clipped into place. The triangle ends are then replaced, followed by the supports & canvas roof.

Entry is via a rear door. Inside the two bunk beds have storage underneath with a cupboard at the far end. Two supports pull out with the top of the cupboard folding to twice its size making for a very convenient table for inside dinning when the weather or flies are bad. At the door end of the camper there is a pressure fuel stove permanently mounted.

The leaf springs are mounted to a steel angle frame which is secured to the campers wooden frame. A simple hinged stand to support the tow hitch is held in place when travelling with a leather strap. The car which is on display is not the original Model A Ford Roadster, but has been bought to compliment the camper.

Our trip into the Flinders was made all the more enjoyable with a little insight into the artists life after the visit to The Cedars where we also managed to buy a copy his biography, Heysen of Hahndorf by CM Thiele. The tour of The Cedars are run by volunteers and definitely worth it. You come away with a different outlook after hearing the little stories behind the paintings and the lives of both Hans, his wife and family

A big thanks to The Cedars manager Allan Campbell, the volunteers & Peter Heysen for the information & time setting up the camper for me.