A Spanner in the Works
Author Loretta Smith. The extraordinary story of Alice Anderson and Australia's first all-girl garage.
384 pages. Published 2019
From the end of the Great War and into the 1920s, Alice Anderson was considered nothing less than a national treasure. She was a woman of 'rare achievement' who excelled as a motoring entrepreneur and inventor. Young, petite, boyish and full of charm, Alice was the first woman in Australia to successfully pull off an almost impossible feat: without family or husband to back her financially, she built a garage to her own specifications and established the country's first motor service run entirely by women.
Alice was also an adventurer, and her most famous road trip occurred in 1926 in a Baby Austin she had purchased exclusively to prove that the smallest car off a production line could successfully make the 1500-mile-plus journey on and off road from Melbourne to Alice Springs, central Australia. However, less than a week after her return, Alice was fatally shot in the head at the rear of her own garage. She was only twenty-nine years old. Every newspaper in the country mourned her sudden loss. A coronial inquest concluded that Alice's death was accidental but testimonies at the inquest were full of inconsistencies.
Alice's life was brief but extraordinary, and in this richly detailed and entertainingly told book this pioneering Australian woman comes to life for readers for the first time.