Tracks in Time Sleeps Hill
Sleeps Hill Adelaide, SA
Post-war, Adelaide was bursting with motorcycle sport, and one area had two tracks within a stone’s throw of each other: Springbank and Sleeps Hill. Both are now swallowed up by housing, with wide roads where there were once narrow dead-end streets.
Before the shepherd Samuel Sleep arrived with his wife and seven children around 1840, the area was known as Brownhill Creek. During his stay it became known as Sleeps Hill and later Angas Park. Sleep made a quick fortune in the Victorian Gold Fields but returned to the land, only to suffer financial ruin by the severe drought of the 1860s. His weight reached 120kg by the time he died in December 1866, aged just 45. Part of the railway viaduct through the Adelaide Hills near Belair was named after him. These are known as the two Sleeps Hill tunnels and these (and the concrete foundations of the adjoining viaducts) represent one of the states major feats of engineering. Completed in 1862, these were the first railway tunnels constructed in the South Australian colony. The line for which they were built encouraged development in the Hills area and ultimately became part of the rail network between Adelaide and Melbourne. A number of quarries in the area provided foundation material for the government railways. Sleeps Hill railway station fell into disuse after 1955 and was finally demolished in 2008. During the Second World War, the Velocette Motor Cycle Club of South Australia began conducting scrambles events at Sleeps Hill, which were held in the former quarries. The circuits were in rugged terrain to the east of what is now Panorama Drive. The club had a strong presence in the sport, promoting speedway at Kilburn Oval as well as scrambles, and had top riders like Laurie Jamieson and Frank Woodroofe amongst their members. The first meeting at Sleeps Hill took place on July 27, 1946, where “a wonderful crowd attended, in spite of the fact that public transport was not available on account of power restrictions being in force, due to a coal shortage”. Stars of the day included Ray Trevena, Jamieson, Laurie Boulter, Frank Gallery and Les Dixon, while Jim McCormack was the outstanding sidecar man.
A popular, if gruelling event at the time was the annual ‘Mud Battle’ at Korweinguboora in Victoria, and for their second Sleeps Hill meeting on 24th August, 1946, the VMCCSA decided to adopt a similar format by diverting the track through a creek. Doug Voss, who supplied most of the photographs for this story, was a regular at Sleeps Hill (as well as nearby Springbank) in the immediate post-war years. As well as toting his trusty camera he kept a diary and
Star of the August 1946 meeting, Royce Newman on his 588cc Norton outfit.
TOP Start in July 1947 with Laurie Boulter (69), K. Prime (30) and Laurie Jamieson (136) away well. ABOVE Laurie Jamieson bounces his Dirt Track J.A.P. over a rise in July 1946.