October 2, 2006
Dead Man's PassRate this encounter: Kevin Smith, Gawler, South Australia, 1969-1970
Having lived in Gawler for a few years (at the time), I was ten years old, full of life, and busy being a 10 year old boy with his mates, riding our bicycles around the town and close surrounds, investigating whatever we liked, no harm was ever done to anyone or anything, just kids being kids in a worry free existence. Gawler was/is one of the older settlements in South Australia, just old enough to build a few legends, none of which us kids heard as fact, more as 'gossip' from unauthoritive persons. More importently, we juveniles certainly didn't believe in such nonsense, we only believed in what we could see or touch, that's just the way we were bought up, and not until recent times, have I had the time, personally, to reflect on anything in the past, and put any credibility to it (or not!?). Anyway, we kids were very familiar with the town and a few ghostings in Gawler. A couple of hotels and pubs, a big old mansion in Gawler West, a few other old creepy places had to be haunted, but alas no evidence. We knew nothing of the "Dead Man's Pass" legend, other than it was just a name for a river crossing that sometimes flooded and in later years had a very sound bridge built, leaving the same bend in the crossing, which I thought odd, but on reflection, the meandering course was left as is. We believe they did this to keep the status quo -- no need to "stir" anything up. Anyway, back to my 10 year old year. Myself and friend Tony, were riding at a brisk pace down one side of the gully as we'd done hundreds of times before with no incident. On this particular day I was getting an over powering message in my ear to go right... go right! Gooo riiight! (Remembering that I'd never needed to take the very sharp reverse right bend before, I'd always gone around the medium blind left bend on our way to the shops). I was worried because I knew I had way too much speed to go right. I must stick true to what I know and go left with Tony, but we were two abreast and I was getting awfully near the center line of the road, and even if I do go left I'm gonna end up on the wrong side of the road. A quick glance at everything and -- bugger it -- I just had to go right knowing full well I had no hope of making the bend. I heard a clear enough, "Good boy," in my ear and... crash... I hit the curb. The bike went straight into a post at full speed and I went sailing through the air -- it seemed like forever -- and into a big gum tree. Now pay attention, folks... I thought I must be dead after that bingle. I looked up and saw a figure standing over me, with a lady along side him. The man simply said, "You're lucky to be alive, lad," and the Lady said, "Take heed, boy, you only get one chance like this!" I'm laying there wondering just how bad it could be because I haven't felt a thing at this stage. And where did these people come from? As I got myself back on my feet, Tony arrived to where I was with my busted up bike in tow. After the concerns etc., I asked him were the old couple went and I told him about what I saw and heard. Tony told me the only person he saw was the car that, "Just about took me out on the corner," stopped briefly to see me get up, and moved on. Tony told him I'd be all right because he heard me talking to someone (of which I don't remember). Tony said If I'd kept going around to the left I certainly would of had a head-on collision with car. As it was, I went right against all my previous experience, and the car missed me by yards. But at least I'm alive!
Who was that, that said that? The post to the tree measures 33 feet apart. There was only gravel between and quite a mangled bike, but not a scratch on me? I didn't even feel it when I hit the tree, which Tony witnessed. Softest landing he'd ever seen. The tree turned out to be the same tree that a man and his family were buried by way back when. That's my experience at the Dead Man's Pass, with probably the Dead Man himself and his wife.