Reviews

Alice Anderson was the proprietor of Australia’s first all-female garage. This is her story
link to full article in WHICHCAR hereAlice Anderson – 1st female garage.


How Alice Anderson steered women into a new world

Biography
A Spanner in the Works
Loretta Smith
Hachette, $32.99

A century ago, car mechanics were invariably male and working class. Alice Anderson was neither. In A Spanner in the Works, her biographer, Loretta Smith, reminds us that history doesn’t move along a linear path. Her story shows why women remain more likely to appear as objects adorning cars than agents under a chassis.

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A Spanner in the Works: The extraordinary story of Alice Anderson and Australia’s first all-girl garage by Loretta Smith

Reviewed by Sharon Verghis • January–February 2020, no. 418

On the evening of 6 August 1926, Alice Anderson donned her driving goggles and gloves, waved to the cheering crowds outside Melbourne’s Lyceum Club, and got into her tiny two-seater Austin 7. With her former teacher Jessie Webb beside her, the boot packed with two guns, sleeping bags, a compass, four gallons of water, a supply of biscuits, and, strangely, two potatoes with red curly wigs, she tooted the horn and set off. Her mission? A three-week pioneering trip to the never-never. ‘There is only one main route from Adelaide to Darwin, and that is only a camel track,’ the tiny young woman behind the wheel said breezily of the 2,607-kilometre journey ahead of her. ‘We are not going to stick to the beaten track.’

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