Waltzing Matilda


Waltzing Matida Jet Truck. It held the world land speed record for trucks 1979.

Matilda the Queen of the tar

Ray Kernaghan

LNT8000 as she had a 3208 Cat engine

This is "Waltzing Matilda", the World's first jet powered truck, It was built around 1977-1978 & is based on a Ford LNT 7000 "Louisville" prime mover, it was powered by an ex-RAAF Rolls-Royce Avon mk1 jet engine taken from a Camberra Bomber, It was the first truck ever to exceed 200mph(322km/h), I'm unsure who the Original owner was but it was bought by the Kernaghan family in 1978, The Kernaghans took the truck on their country music tours, Waltzing Matilda's record as the fastest truck in the world remained unbroken until 1982, when its record was taken by "Black Thunder", Another Australian jet powered truck(this time Peterbilt based)

Waltzing Matilda was built in Melbourne in about 1978 by Terry O'Hare (sp) on short notice, about 6 weeks.

It was built to race against Tyrone Malone's Super Boss, the worlds fastest truck at the time, that was touring Australia.

Due to the short build time , lack of testing and extremely hot weather it failed to beat Super Boss. Although is did become the worlds fastest Jet Truck.

In 1979 Matilda ran on closed public roads in north western Victoria (Somewhere around Birchip-Wycheproof) in World Land Speed Record format of two flying runs (one run each way) recording a top speed of 220+MPH and an average speed around 175MPH Becoming the first truck over 200MPH and the worlds fastest truck.

Ray Kernaghan bought the truck in around 1981 and sold it in 1983/84.

Ray Kernaghan's Jet Set Country album. Waltzing Matilda is on the front cover parked by a Qantas plane. There's some small photos on the rear cover too. But the neat thing is the album opens up to a large picture of Waltzing Matilda with the chutes out at what appears to be Surfers Paradise. I haven't viewed it for a while but I think I have video of it racing at Castlereagh.

Lee Kernaghan

In the 90s Lee Kernaghan spearheaded a new generation of Australian country music, unlike their American cousins holding true to country music's traditional romance with the land, small towns, and farm folk, and kneeling at the altar of those who came before them. Lee was literally born into that tradition. His father was a featured singer with the Rick And Thelma Carey Show, pioneers of Australian country music, while his mother was juggler assistant for the show at the time they discovered they were expecting the child that was Lee.

Lee Kernaghan gave his first public performance at the age of five, at a talent show on the local radio station, singing Rolf Harris' 'Two Little Boys'. He started piano lessons at the age of eleven, and formed his first band the next year with his brother Greg (nine) on drums and Lee's best friend Glen Simpson on bass and keyboards. When Lee and Greg's little sister Tania (then 8 years old) joined the group changed its name from the Blue Devils to Angel and the Blue Devils. Father Ray Kernaghan released the first of his 14 gold records in 1977, the same year 13-year old Lee wrote his first song, 'Country Music Man'. The following year the entire Kernaghan family - Ray, Pam and their two songs and two daughters - rejoined the Rick and Thel Carey Show for a six month tour around the country. Lee recording his first demos during that tour. All of the Kernaghan children have gone on to careers of their own but it's Lee who emerged as the star, challenging Slim Dusty as Australia's biggest selling country artist.

In 1979 Ray Kernaghan's second album included two songs written by Lee, including 'Matilda, Queen Of The Tar', a tribute to "Waltzing Matilda", a big Ford Louieville Truck powered by a Canberra Jet Engine which raced around the nation's showgrounds where the Kernaghans performed, with its big jet engine roaring and flames shooting out of the exhaust. That same year "Waltzing Matilda" broke the world land speed record for a truck at Witcheproof, Victoria. Ray's second album was called 'Jet Set Country'. In 1981 Lee formed his first country band, Lee Kernaghan and the Coca-Cola Cowboys.

After leaving school started working at the family record label, Kernaghan Country Records, wrapping records and cassettes, writing invoices and dispatching to record retailers around the country. Ray bought "Waltzing Matilda", and in 1982 the truck, Ray, and the younger Kernaghans as part of a group called the Strangers travelled around Australia for nine months in the Ray Kernaghan Cavalcade of Stars Show which also included a beauty queen, special guests and a computerised driverless car.


WHO REMEMBERS THIS? 'WALTZING MATILDA' a JET POWERED FORD LOUISVILLE. The truck had a 3208 CAT motor & a JET on the back from a Canberra Jet Bomber. Back in the 70's 'WALTZING MATILDA' travelled around Australia with the Country Music Stars like RAY KERNAGHAN, YES RAY not LEE! Previously the truck had been raced at various locations around our great land Australia back when a bloke name Tyrone Malone had a DETROIT powered 'SUPER BOSS' out here from the STATES on tour. The 2 trucks raced each other on a number of times. Attracting plenty of attention as they travelled the country, way before the BANDAG BULLET DAYS. CAN"T BEAT THE GOOD OL DAYS. Email me if you have any photos from back then.

On October 4, 1983, Richard Noble's Thrust2 vehicle, powered by a single Rolls-Royce Avon 302 jet engine, set a new land-speed record of 1,019.46 km/h (633.46 mph) at the Black Rock Desert in Nevada. A Rolls-Royce Avon MkII was used to propel the world's fastest jet powered truck, Waltzing Matilda - this engine was as fitted to a Canberra jet bomber aircraft

Supposedly the fastest truck in the world from a standing start over the kilometer run was achieved yesterday at a Bundaberg airstrip. Well I do not know how they can come up with this claim, I once guarded a truck that had a jet engine in it that would have blown this truck away. The link for this story is:www.theaustralian.news.c...255E1702,00.html
The truck I guarded back in 1982 was called Waltzing Matilda and it had a Canberra Jet Bomber engine in it and when that think cranked up my god it literally flew. I believe Ray Kernaghan father of Lee Kernaghan the country and western singer owned it back then. In fact I have found a picture of it and here is the link: www.hankstruckpictures.c...02/matilda_3.jpg

ABC TV - "Can We Help" - Episode 22 - Friday 3 November , 2006 

The Big Challenge

Waltzing Matilda

The question comes from Stephen O’Hare who with his father Terry built ‘Waltzing Matilda’ Australia’s first jet truck and in 1979 the breaker of the world (truck) speed record. After 25 years of parting ways with their creation the family wants us to find Matilda so they can reconstruct her and put her on display in the Geelong Automotive Discovery Centre.

Waltzing Matilda’ was built in 1978 to take on the world’s fastest truck Tyron Malone’s ‘Super Boss’. Built in six weeks and being equipped with an Avon mark 1 jet engine from a Canberra bomber, Matilda was the world’s first jet powered truck and Australia’s best chance to claim victory over the American titleholder.
Terry O’Hare built Matilda at the back of his Centurion Transport Engineering Workshop. Designers, engineers and mechanics toiled day and night to complete the construction within seven weeks.

It was 35 degrees and the Track Record crowd of 35,000+ fans had turned out to see the spectacle. Waltzing Matilda was fired up at 11.45 am and entered the History Books as the world’s first jet powered truck.

Several things had beaten the jet powered vehicle on the day. The temperature had starved Matilda of air so that it could not perform at full power and combined with the lack of experience of the crew; due to lack of testing, it wasn’t to be her day. What she did achieve however, was to capture the countries imagination.

After two years of touring the nation Terry and the team decided that Matilda was better suited to the longer stretches and so began preparations to set a new world record.

Terry contacted Vic Roads who searched their records and found a stretch of road in Northern Victoria that meet the criteria. The wheat Town of Wycheproof had such a stretch of road, the Wycheproof / Birchip Road, which was 22‘ wide and had a 9” crown with flat wheat fields either side.

World record runs are timed over two runs (one in each direction within the hour) with the measured start and finish speed and times recorded and averaged in each direction with these two averaged figures then averaged again to decide the final record.

The Jets 6000 lb of thrust echoed across the wheat fields, the 8 tonne monster crossed the end of the mile course at 228 MPH. The two runs resulted in a World record being set at 176.2 MPH (276.9 KPH) having run the Flying Mile in just 20.92 seconds.

For the next 2 years Stephen O’Hare ran the promotion of Matilda as a business. She appeared at drag meetings, shopping centres, royal shows and country fairs all over the country.

Ray Kernigan (father of Lee Kernigan ) who had been associated with the Ford product adopted the truck and named an Album after her “Jet Set Country “ which was a best seller.

Lee wrote a track for the Album “Matilda Queen of the Tar” which has since been attributed as one of his first hit songs.

The Kernigans sold Matilda in 1983. It has had a succession of drivers and as far as we know found a home in Melbourne, Sydney and Tasmania.

The Can We Help team was able to reunite Matilda and Steven O’Hare, with the help of Ewan Stephens, a honey farmer in Mole Creek Tassie.

Ewan began to buy pieces of Matilda in 1994 and rebuilt her over the next two years with both original and cannibalised parts. He uses the world’s first jet powered truck that broke the former world speed record at 228mph to deliver his payloads of honey. He says it’s still in pretty good nick and even won a best truck prize at the local country show…


Waltzing Matida Jet Truck, Andy Jacbson and vehicle designer Herb Grasse

1979 Waltzing Matida Jet Truck Concept

Under Construction

Brag Board

As it is today