Jim’s royal ride
By Daisy Baker
08 August, 2018
JIM Bennett has many memories of his 84 years in the North-East, growing up in Scottsdale and his adult life in Bridport, but there’s one Saturday in 1953 that he will never forget.
Mr Bennett was set to play football against Launceston that day at the Scottsdale Recreation Ground but missed the game after being nominated to pick up letters from North-East schools for the Queen, commemorating her coronation.
The young track rider was driven to Gladstone in a bus, and then the next morning he then rode his fixed-wheel bike more than 120 kilometres, picking up mail from Pioneer, Herrick, Winnaleah, Derby, Branxholm, Ringarooma, Legerwood and Kamona.
“It was a very long ride, it took me seven hours or so to do it,” Mr Bennett says.
“I was only a track rider, so I’d never ridden on the road before.
“I used to ride in carnivals at different towns but that was sprints.”
At each town, a young Mr Bennett collected a bundle of letters and put them in his backpack, which he was to hand to Wilfred A Rose when he returned to Scottsdale.
“I got over to the football ground at a quarter to three, it was half-time,” he says.
“I handed over the letters for him to take to the Council chambers and I raced home. I was exhausted.
“There were no gears on the bike, it was just an ordinary old fixed-wheel – your legs were your brakes and you had only your legs to get you along.”
He laughs, saying Gladstone to Scottsdale would be long journey for him today in a motorcar.
Mr Bennett went on to be a successful baker and pastry chef, with his own bakery in Bridport, which was situated where the hardware is now.
He did his trade in Scottsdale under Laurie Clark, learning how to make bread, sausage rolls, pies, pasties, small cakes, and cream horns.
He says it took him a good six months to learn the art of making and folding a good curly pasty, which Mr Bennett says he then taught to Max Hall.
After finishing his trade, Mr Bennett worked throughout the North-East, in George Town, King Island, and Victoria.
One of his specialties is curried scallop pies, which he says he still makes every few weeks.