The wager

The Wager

The cover of 'A Sporting Wager'. Parkinson (right) and Evans with the wheelbarrow.

The trial of strength and endurance resulted from a bet made on Anzac Day 1935, between Beechworth's local garage proprietor Tom Parkinson and the licensee of the Post Office Hotel, Tony Evans.

The bet, for twenty pounds, was that Parkinson would not be able to push Evans from the Beechworth Post Office to the Chalet at Mt. Buffalo in a wheelbarrow, given the time-limit of eight days.

Although by all accounts the wager had originated in the local pub over a couple of beers, Tom Parkinson and Tony Evans took their bet very seriously. Both men put in approximately three weeks of training before the event; Parkinson pounded the roads, pushing a training load of fifteen stone in a makeshift barrow, and for speed-work he top dressed the Beechworth bowling greens with barrow loads of superphosphate. Evans played lots of golf and practised sitting for long periods in a barrow.

Map of the race route - 'A Sporting Wager', page 2.

A brochure entitled 'A Sporting Wager' was published for the event. It mapped out the route which the barrowmen would take on the eight-day marathon. Beginning in Beechworth at 1pm on Satuday June 15, they were scheduled to travel just over 50miles (80km). They would also climb nearly 3000ft (approx. 1000 metres) to the mountain-top, 4500ft above sea-level.

Tentative Schedule and Conditions of the Marathon. 'A Sporting Wager', page 3.

A list of twenty-four conditions was drawn up signed by both men:

1. Parkinson to wheel Evans from Beechworth Post Office to Chalet on Mount Buffalo in eight consecutive days.
2. The wheelbarrow to be approved by both parties. In case of disagreement the referee to decide.
3. Evans to carry unbrella, cushion and overcoat besides ordinary clothes, and nothing else.
4. Evans to keep the wheelbarrow on an even keel, and sit centrally.
5. Evans to continue day and night at option of Parkinson.
6. If Parkinson is held up by snow, no time off will be allowed.
7. An act of God, such as floods, land slides, or fallen trees, to be allowed for by time off.
8. Parkinson to be granted a clear right of way. If an obstruction, such as crowds, occurs, time off will be allowed.
9. Evans to keep his feet off wheel and ground.
10. Parkinson to keep barrow legs off ground in transit.
11. Parkinson to be allowed shoulder straps.
12. Evans to continue in barrow nonwithstanding snow, ice or frostbite.
13. Parkinson not to approach nearer than 3ft from cliffs on mountain.
14. Parkinson to be the sole propellant of barrow. No assistance of any kind allowed.
15. Parkinson to be allowed to zig-zag down Buckland Gap, where gradient is 1 in 6.
16. Both parties agree to to bear their own risk. No action for injury to lie.
17. Parkinson to be allowed to replace or repair barrow in case of breakdown.
18. Parkinson to travel via Baarmutha, Murmungee, Gapsted, Myrtleford, Ovens, Eurobin, Pokepunkah.
19. Parkinson to exercise proper care in traffic.
20. Evans to remain in barrow five minutes after each stoppage on mountain road at option of Parkinson.
21. In the event of failure of one party to carry out his share or foregoing terms, the sum of £20 to be forfeited to the other party.
22. The decision of the referee and stakeholder to be final.
23. Meals to be taken at reasonable hours.
24. Parkinson to take reasonable care not to tip the barrow.