The Tipperary Mile
Then and now
JIM BUTLER, nowadays a member of the Northern Rivers Classic Club who established a strong friendship with the club’s late patron Jack Ahearn, grew up near Coonabarabran, in the north west of NSW. This was the area identified by oil company BP/COR as a suitable site for a series of record attempts in 1957, by the company’s sponsored car and motorcycle racers, which included Jack Ahearn, who was briefly back in Australia after stints in Europe.
You can read the full, quite incredible story of these record attempts, in issue 6 of OBA. The actual site was a dead-straight and very narrow four-mile stretch of country road that ran beside a railway line between Coonabarabran and Baradine. The central point of this road passed the property Tipperary Station, and the exercise became known as the Tipperary Flying Mile. The motorcycle brigade was represented by Jack Forrest, with his ex-works BMW Rennsport, Trevor Pound with the 125cc Walsh Bantam BSA and the equally famous 350 BSA/Norton owned by Jimmy Guilfoyle, and Jack Ahearn with his 350cc Manx Norton and a 250cc NSU owned by Hazell & Moore. Representing the sidecar fraternity were Frank Sinclair and Bernie Mack. Jim Butler, son of the original owners of Tipperary Station, moved out of the area many years ago, but recently returned for a visit and photographed this desolate stretch of road that holds a unique piece of history in Australian motor sport. It’s fascinating to compare the road, sixty years apart.
BP advertisement from 1957 showing the new records achieved at the Tipperary Flying Mile.
ABOVE Jack Forrest establishing a new Australian record, speeding past the Tipperary property in 1957.
BELOW Northern end of the Baradine Road in 2017. BOTTOM Harry Hinton giving Jack Ahearn a push start in 1957 prior to a record run on the 350 Manx Norton.