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Big Lizzie

The history of Big Lizzie (below) is fascinating from its early beginnings in 1915 right through to the present time. The idea of the unusual wheel was the brain-child of the late Mr. Frank Bottrill.

bi g Li zzie

This idea was conceived while trying to find a better way to travel over sand having witnessed the harsh conditions of the interior. With all of this in mind and after several prototypes, he commenced the construction of Big Lizzie at McDonald's Foundry in Richmond. After a harrowing two years, he arrived in Mildura district (Vic') intent on crossing the Murray River bound for Broken Hill. The river being unfordable, he stayed in the district carting wheat, parts and any other material.

As Red Cliffs was to be opened up for Soldier Settlement, he won the Government contract to clear Red Cliffs of scrub, thus enabling this massive machine to clear all manner of trees in a short time.

With Big Lizzie were two massive trailers, each with their own water and oil reserve tanks underneath the top decking, which had a 30 ton carrying capacity.

After five years of work at Red Cliffs, Big Lizzie and two trailers began the slow retreat to Glendinning Station near Balmoral, Victoria.

Some 40 years later this rusty old, heap of machinery was purchased by a Big Lizzie Committee to be a proud part of the 50th Golden Jubilee celebrations of Red Cliffs. Much time and money has been spent on restoration, the 1988 Bi-Centennial gift to the Shire of Mildura was a complete new cover for ultimate protection.


  • Length: 34 feet, Height: 18 feet, Weight: 45 tons
  • Turning radius - 200 feet, Complete train - 98 feet long
  • Powered by 60hp Blackstone crude oil engine
  • Four Forward Gears - 1/2 - 2 mph, Two reverse gears - 1/4 - 1/2 mph
  • Carrying capacity: 80 tons.

Courtesy of the 1998 Red Cliffs (near Mildura) Big Lizzie Festival

- 4wd.sofcom.com/4WD.html
Via email:
Permit me to add a few data about the Australian famous "Big Lizzie" truck. According to Your webpage that great truck had been built around 1915. Well I quote now an Austrian Military Newspaper: Streffleur Vienna 1913, Vol I, April 1913: Radgürtelkonstruktionen für schwere Lastautotrains p.726. In that newspaper the "Big Lizzie" has been portrayed as a copperplate drawing. Apparently around 1912 the Mount Gunson Coppermine Inc. needed a super heavy truck plus trailer. They contacted the mechanical engineering firm that usually built elevators for mines: the Austral-Otis Engineering Company. Big Lizzie was supposed to be able to handle swamps and to ford little rivers. The truck operated at least from 1913 on from Port Augusta (Spencer Golf) and it regularly rolled 200km into the interior visiting the mines. The truck was equipped with a tent (for the crew of both the trailer and the truck) each vehicle had a water tank. The original engine was a gasoline motor with 40HP and 250r. Since the heat was murderous there was a front mounted oversized radiator. Since Austrian military newspapers were never very fast with news, I predict that the said "Big Lizzie" must have been in action before 1913! - Gernot Beaumont [6/'00]
And . . .
The e-mail [above] is not quite correct [...]. Frank Bottrill's Big Lizzie did not leave Melbourne where it was made until 1916. The tractor [referred to above] made by Austral-Otis and used at Mt.Gunson was fitted with Frank Bottrils "Dreadnaught Wheels" (Pedrails) patented in 1906. It had a McDonald 40hp Engine, a photo of this tractor appeared in the Weekly Times on 26th August 1911. Some of the McDonald tractors were also fitted with these wheels and were also used in mines. Bottrill worked on fitting these pedrails to tractors between his land clearing jobs.
For [more] information [...] refer to G.R.Quick's book, "Australian Tractors" or Ron Maslin's book on Big Lizzie - Bob K' rev vakbob ozemail com au 7/00 --> [7/'00]

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