We always like to have a wander through towns to get a feel for the place. Sometimes they hold surprises, like the grain store with a few chooks next door or a goat or sheep keeping a vacant block mowed. Whereas in the city it would be a guard dog. Anyone who’s been felled by a goat would agree that a goat will do a far better job of dropping an intruder to his knees and with less fuss. I digress, while walking through Balranald we spotted this extract from an old newspaper displayed on a shop window:
Sunraysia Daily Mildura Monday June 10 1963
“Night drama in mud trap.
An elephant was used yesterday to pull a bogged ambulance out of knee deep mud on a
rain-soaked road near Balranald.
The ambulance became bogged early yesterday morning while on a dash to Balranald Hospital with a seriously ill woman.
A police car which went with the ambulance also became bogged. A winch truck which tried to pull the ambulance clear became bogged too.
Then the woman was placed in a boat and this was dragged through the mud and slush to firm ground.
Hundreds of square miles of country in the Balranald area have been turned into mud traps by six inches of rain in the past week.
The call for the ambulance came at 12:15am yesterday when Mrs. T. Morrow (33) of Walworth Station, four miles from Balranald, suddenly became ill.
Ambulance driver, Rupert Clarke, and a police car carrying Sergeant J Wotton and Constable D. Maranda set out for the station.
The cars had travelled about half a mile along a road off the Sturt Highway when the police car was bogged axle deep. But the ambulance got through and Mrs. Morrow was placed inside on a stretcher.
On the return journey the ambulance reached the bogged police car and they too got stuck.
A tractor was brought from the station. It towed the police car out but it could not move the ambulance.
Then the tractor was driven around the 500-yard stretch of mud to Balranald where a four wheel-drive winch truck was brought into the battle.
Back at the ambulance the winch truck became bogged too, so Sgt. Wotton drove the tractor back to Balranald and obtained a boat.
With Mrs. Morrow placed in the boat, the police and ambulance driver pushed and dragged it through the mud and water until the highway was reached and Mrs. Morrow was taken to hospital by private car.
The winch truck and the ambulance – the only one at Balranald – were still bogged. Mud was up to the bonnet of the ambulance.
When daylight came the winch truck, using its own winch, dragged itself clear.
At 4:30 yesterday afternoon, after all other attempts had failed, Sgt Wotton gained help of Ashton’s Circus and the 31-year-old five-ton elephant Johoro to try to pull the ambulance clear.
Elephant keeper Jock McLoughlin rigged a harness to Joroho and she was in mud up to her girth as she slowly dragged the ambulance 500 yards to firm ground.
A large crowd that had gathered cheered as the elephant completed the last few yards.
About the same time yesterday, Mrs Morrow was transferred to Swan Hill hospital. Her condition last night was satisfactory.”
Yes. we love Balranald, where the fences sprout teacups, the chairs wear high heels and the folks have perseverance.