Round Australia Trials

Find out about the history of Round Australia Trials


Nothing inspires the imagination of both the public and enthusiasts alike quite like a round Australia trial. During the 1950s with the advent of the family car, the idea of travelling such great distances on our island continent became a reality. It is perhaps little wonder that a series of long distance car trials were conducted in that period. “REDeX” became a household name!

Roads back then were often poor, especially in the outback. The density of population was such that a rally could be conducted without significant concerns for the safety of the public. As the years went by, the roads improved, safety concerns grew, and it became more difficult to conduct such long distance “open road” events.

Arguably the last great Round Australia Trial was the 1979 Repco Reliability Trial. The subsequent 1995 Mobil 1 Trial was a quite different kind of event mostly decided over shorter special stages. Perhaps the last event to claim to be a true Round Australia rally was the 1998 Playstation Rally, with even more of the competition being conducted on closed roads and private property.

The definitive history of round Australia trials is Hal Maloney’s book, Long Distance Trials in Australia. Tom Snooks has also written about Marathon style events in Australia, available at Marathon Trials – a Summary – Australian Rally History.

For competitor interviews from three of the Round Australia Trials in the 1950s, visit our page with the Lox McGrath collection.

Round Australia Trials and winners

The definition of a “Round Australia” is open to debate. The events listed below were all long, typically at least two weeks, and visited a number of states. Arguably a true “Round Australia” would visit all mainland states, but even the first REDeX did not go to WA, and none of the events visited Tasmania! The five Ampol Trials did not visit WA. The final event to perhaps qualify as a “Round Australia” was the 2008 Red Centre to Gold Coast Trial which visited NT, Qld, SA and NSW.

YearDatesEventWinning crewCar
195330 August – 13 SeptemberREDeX TrialKen Tubman / John MarshallPeugeot 203
19543 – 20 JulyREDeX TrialJack Murray / Bill MurrayFord V8 1948
195521 August – 11 SeptemberREDeX TrialLaurie Whitehead / Bob ForemanVolkswagen
195615 – 29 JulyAmpol TrialWilf Murrell / Allen TaylorPeugeot 403
19564-19 AugustMobilgas TrialEddie and Lance PerkinsVolkswagen
19577 – 21 JulyAmpol TrialJack Witter / Doug StewartVolkswagen
195721 August – 8 SeptemberMobilgas RallyLaurie Whitehead / Kevin YoungVolkswagen
195818 May – 1 JuneAmpol TrialJim Roberts / Don GarardHolden FE
195820 August – 7 SeptemberMobilgas TrialEddie Perkins / Arthur SmithVolkswagen
196414 June – 28 JuneAmpol TrialHarry Firth / Graham HoinvilleFord Consul Cortina GT
197020 June – 5 JulyAmpol TrialJean-Claude Ogier / Lucette Ogier
Edgar Herrman / Hans Schuller
Citroen DS 21
Datsun 1600 SSS
19795 – 19 August1979 Repco Reliability TrialPeter Brock / Matthew Philip / Noel RichardsHolden Commodore VB
199513 June – 2 JulyMobil 1 TrialEd Ordynski / Ross RunnallsHolden Commodore VS
19986 -27 SepteberPlaystation RallyBruce Garland / Harry SuzukiHolden Jackeroo
20088 – 20 SeptemberRed Centre to Gold Coast TrialDavid Officer / Kate OfficerMitsubishi Galant