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Max Burns Tanksinker

The story of Max Burns and the township of Julia Creek. A PDF version can be downloaded free (see below). The first bound copy was finished on 7 Oct 2009.

Note: the book is actually called Tanksinker, not Max Burns Tanksinker.

This is a big, ugly and expensive book (260 x 280 mm, 816 pages, 3.9 kgs). It may look rough, but you won't find a book that is more flexible or which is bound with more strength. Price for the final few copies will be well above the original asking price ($150), a price I subsidised so that contributors could afford to buy it.

How to Order New Copies
24 Oct 2009: I am no longer accepting orders for this book except from people whose story appears in the book and who have not yet ordered a copy.
21 Apr 2011: Price for the last three copies is $395 (now sold), $550 (now sold), $750. The final two copies will come with a glass weight, and have a different gold-silk insert that will read something like: "This is the final copy. Sold to ..."

Secondhand Copy
23 Aug 2012: A secondhand copy in mint condition, #44, is now available for sale at $350. It will have the original gold-silk inset, plus another for the new purchaser.

Caring for Tanksinker
Download a one-page PDF, Caring For Tanksinker.

Who Has Copies?
• Numbers are the copy number as per the silk inscription.
• A description of each book, and a photo, are in a PDF called Tanksinker Books, which can be downloaded here.
• Comments included after each order are either unsolicited or the buyer was contacted to make sure the book had arrived in good order.

1.  Guy Burns. First copy, shown above.

2.  Jenny Pearce.

3.  Dadie Dawes, 1 colour copy, 7 Oct, paid by bank deposit. Posted 18/12/09, received 21/12/09.

4.  Fred Edwards (for Vi), 1 B&W copy, 6 Oct, paid by cheque. Posted 14/12/09, received 16/12.

5.  Harry Denman, 1 colour copy, 20 Oct, by postal order. Posted 11/01/10, received 13th.

6.  Joe Azzopardi, 1 B&W copy, paid by chequePosted 21/12/09, received 22/12/09.

7.  Nita Pearce (Crawford), 1 colour copy, 16 Nov, paid by cheque. Posted 21/12/09, received 22/12/09.
By letter 7/1/2010: "This letter is to let you know what a wonderful big book Tanksinker is, and to thank you for the phone calls before Christmas re the book's arrival. I have found it fascinating to read the history of Julia Creek and also to see so many faces I knew – the one in particular of Paddy Byrne. We had a special regard for one another! And my friend of all those years – Lil Somers. I also have to say my article comes across pretty good. Friends and family can't believe it... It brings back so many memories, so thanks again."

8.  Kim Birch (for Jim), 1 B&W copy, 17 Nov, Posted 14/12/09, received 15/12.
By email 16/12/2009: "Just letting you know your book arrived safety yesterday and it is, in my humble opion, sensational! Thank you so much for getting the book to me in time for Christmas. I know Dad (Jim) will be thrilled with it and no doubt provide him with many hours of reflection. Thank you also, Guy, for having the vision for putting something like this together, and also the resilience to get the text completed. Noting the detail in the book, it would seem to have been a project you were very much committed to and one that families like mine are very grateful to you for."

9.  Mossie & Betty McDonald, 1 colour copy, 15 Oct, paid by bank deposit. Posted 18/1/10, received 19/1.

By phone 23/1/2010: "You've done a good job. Lovely to see a sticker in the front with our names on it and the initials of the binders on the back. A nice little touch. It's a credit to you both."

10.  Stumpy Malone, 1 B&W copy, 30 Oct, paid by cheque. Posted 14/02/10.

11.  Tom Wall, 26 Oct, rang to say he wants a colour copy and he wants it signed by the author. Posted 8 Feb 2010. Received 9 Feb.

12.  Ray Godier, 1 colour copy, 9 Oct. Posted 11/12/09, received 22/12/09.

13.  Don Dewar, 1 B&W copy, 8 Oct, paid by cheque. Happy to receive his copy after older people. Posted 8 Feb 2010. Received 9 Feb.
By phone 12/2/2010: "How did you learn to do the binding? Do a course or something?... It's a big book. I'll be reading it till I die."
By phone 4/3/2010: "A masterpiece… How much are extra copies?… $500 each? It's worth it. I'll have six."
Guy: I'll believe it when I see the money!

14.  Malcolm Dewar, 1 colour copy, 5 Oct, paid by cheque. Posted 8 Feb 2010. Received 9 Feb.

15-16.  Brian Sohier, 2 colour copies, 5 Oct. One copy posted 18/12/09, received 23/12. Posted 19/03/10, arrived 22/03/10.
By email 23/12/2009: "Book received yesterday. Many thanks and have a happy, healthy Xmas."

17-18.  Bill Burrows, 2 B&W copies (for him and Ivy), 22 Octpaid by bank deposit. 2 copies posted 14/02/10.

19.  Barry & Josie Burns, 1 B&W copy, 9 Oct, paid by cheque. Posted 18/1/10, received 19/1.

20.  Mal & Mary Burns, 1 colour copy, 13 Oct, after Xmas OK, paid by cheque. Posted 5/2/10. Received 10/02/10

21.  Butch Burns, 1 B&W copy + Bad Penny, after Xmas OK, 20 Oct, paid by money orderPosted 5/2/10. Received 10/02/10

22-23  Karen Beach (and sister Lyn Dever), 2 colour copies, 29 Sep. Posted 11/12/09, received 22/12/09.
By email 3/1/2010: "Received your books from Ray before Xmas and it was quite a coffee table item for all the family over Xmas."

24.  Tony Brennan (for Flossie), 1 colour copy, 2 Oct. Posted 17/12/09, received 21/12/09.
From Flossie by letter 7/1/2010: "Tony's present arrived for me just in time for Christmas. What a book! What a story! You have excelled yourself. Congratulations on such an undertaking. I am half way through it and I find I want to read more. The stories held my attention. Some of the people I knew, and some I heard about from my time in Julia Creek. My thoughts on Max are that your father had a good teacher! Marj comes through as a thoroughly good woman who did only good deeds for all and nothing was too much trouble for her. I know personally that she was a wonderful lady."

25.  Cosette Wilder (for Albie), 1 B&W copy, 2 Oct. Posted 14/12/09, received 16/12.
By email 19/12/2009: "The book is beautiful. We are all impressed and will have many hours of reading. Mum is enjoying herself listening to the stories about the family.

26-28.  Sylvia Crawford (Sills), 3 colour copies for her children, 4 Oct. Posted one unbound copy 9/12/09, to Alan Williams for binding in Townsville. Two more unbound copies posted 18/12/09 and 21/12.
By phone 16/12/2009: "It's a wonderful book. I'm so pleased I bought it, even though – because I wanted them in time for Christmas – my children's copies will be bound differently from the others."

29-30.  Allison Entriken (Kaeser), 1 B&W copy, 6 Oct. One copy posted 17/12/09. Second copy posted 14/02/10.

31.  Trina (for Murray & Joanie), 1 B&W copy, 8 Oct, by bank deposit (20 Oct). Posted 14/12/09, received 16/12.
By email from Tracy 21/12/2009: "Mum and Dad are raving about the book that you sent. Well, I wouldn't know how good it is and probably never will! Only kidding - I will read it on my next trip to Townsville. But still, you should have signed it for them given that one day you will have a bestseller on your hands."

Murray Halloran, by phone 20/12/2009 (talking to Jenny): "Well, if he's not much good for anything else, at least my nephew knows how to set out a book!"

32.  Joyce Sills, 1 colour copy, 20 Oct, after Xmas OK, by bank deposit. Posted 19/03/10.

33.  Ross Sills, 1 colour copy, 21 Oct, after Xmas OK, by bank deposit. Posted 19/03/10.

34.  Bill Magoffin, 1 colour copy, 20 Oct, paid by bank deposit. Posted 14/02/10.
By email 21/2/2010: "Guy, Just a quick note to say that my copy of “Tanksinker” has arrived. Although I have not had a chance to work may way through it yet,
I would like to congratulate you on the achievement. I doubt there would be very few publications that would come close to documenting the history of a district
in any more authentic way. Regds, Bill Magoffin."

35.  Joyce Sills (for her sister Ellen), 1 colour copy, 23 Oct, after Xmas OK, paid by bank deposit. Posted 19/03/10.

36.  J. Anderson (Eddington Station), 1 colour copy, 22 Oct. Posted 11/12/09, received 22/12/09.

37.  Beryl Tucker (for her mother, Dot Dickfos), 1 B&W copy, 9 Dec, paid by bank depositPosted 11/01/10, received 13th.

38.  Tom Forster, 11 Dec, 1 colour copy, paid by cheque. Posted 8 Feb 2010. Received 9 Feb.

39.  Stephen Wilson (free copy, artist), completed and delivered 15 June 2010.

40.  Guy's colour copy. Part of matching set (Bad Penny 5, Stephen 4, AWATS 2, Eagles Nest 1).

41.  Scott Bell.

42.  Guy's B&W copy, before image contrast correction, on 120 GSM Freelife Cream, completed November 2009.

43.  Christine Acton (daughter of Fred Edwards). Posted 24/03/2011.

By email, 7 Apr 2011: "Have collected Tanksinker – it's great, thank you."

44.  Jenny Tudehope, December 2010.

45.  Gil Hays, delivered 28/01/2011. Paid 16/07/2011.

46.  Peter (nephew of Dot Dickfos) and Ronda Triffett. $550 cheque received 16/8/2012. Posted 23/8/2012. Included an unetched glass weight.

47.  Trevor Burns. $395 cheque received from Aunt Josie 8/4/2011. Posted 28/4/2011.

48.  David Browne (son of Geoffrey). $395, 19/07/2011, posted 21/07/2011, received the next day.
By email 24/7/2011: Dear Guy, the book arrived on Friday in top condition. I can really see the value in it – a credit to yourself and Jenny Pearce. Once again, thank you very much for the opportunity to purchase this copy. Would you be able to send me the prices of "Bad Penny" and "Tuppence for Tuppence" please. Yours Sincerely, David Browne.
49.  Available, $750, final copy for sale. Will include special gold-silk insert and etched glass weight.

50.  Guy Burns lending copy. Last normal copy to be bound, completed 17/07/2010.

51.  Jenny Pearce. First Proof, printed December 2008, bound as single sheets, 520 x 280, completed 20/07/2010. 

Download PDF Version (compressed)
To view this PDF as it would appear in book form (pages side by side), in Adobe Reader select Page Display > Two Up.

Click here to download the entire book (128 MB, images 150 dpi, JPEG 2000, High Quality setting)

Download PDF Version (full resolution, uncompressed)
Click here to download separate chapters (images at 300 dpi, uncompressed)

Links to other information
This section contains the bankruptcy records of Max Burns – scanned copies of the original transcripts, grouped together in zip files of about 50 pages, and a complete transcript of the entire court proceedings.

  2. Newspaper articles relating to Julia Creek or Max Burns.
This section contains copies of newspaper articles photographed from microfilm; a transcript of most of the articles; and an index.

  3. Sound Recordings and Transcripts (arranged alphabetically)
Please let me know if you'd rather not have your recording archived on this site, and I will remove it.
Surnames beginning with: A, B, C-E, F-G, H-L, M-Q, R-Z

By email 5/12/2010:

Hi Guy, Thanks so much for uploading the sound-recorded interviews. It was wonderful to hear my Grandad talking again (Bryan Fels) as we lost him in 2006. He was such a wonderful story teller I wish we’d recorded or documented more of his stories. Since the interviews were done we have also lost my Aunty Mary (nee Winton) & Uncle Bert Brisbane so will be great to hear them talking too.


Larissa Dever

  4. Original Images (arranged alphabetically)
 NOTE: Photo GeK01 on page 418 is the wrong photo. According to Wilma, daughter of Kath Gerahty who provided the photo, the people in the photo are Les Triffett and his mother.

Details about the images
Image names have the general form AJ07x. The first letters refer to the person who had the photo when I scanned it. For example, AJ refers to Azzopardi, Joe (surname initial first, followed by first name initial). Then follows the number of the image and a final letter which can be either a, b, x, y or z. If the final letter is an "a" or "b" that means I made two original scans at different resolutions (only the higher resolution image is included here). If the final letter is x, y or z, the original image has been edited. This may include cropping, rotation, contrast adjustment, dust and scratch removal, and sometimes resampling to a higher resolution. An image with "y" appended has had more editing than an "x" image.
   The images that actually appear in the book have undergone a further edit -- sharpening, resampling to 300dpi for printing, and a further contrast change to accommodate the characteristics of the Xerox iGen, the machine on which the book was printed. None of these "as printed in the book" images can be downloaded here. If you want a copy of an image exactly as it appears in the book, download the "Full resolution PDF" and copy the image from the PDF.

What images are available?
All images I scanned while researching this book are available for download. You can note the name of the image and the owner when you see it in the book (AJ07, Joe Azzopardi, for example), or you can search JC Photo Index to find the name of an image. Then click to obtain access to the images. 

 Which image should I choose?
• For a high-resolution image straight from the scanner, choose the version without x, y or z at the end. However, the image will also have lots of dust, scratches and other blemishes.
• For a high-resolution image that has most of the blemishes removed, choose an image with an x, y or z.
• For an image just like it appears in the book, and you want to print it at the same size as in the book (or smaller), copy the image from the "Full-resolution PDF". If you print such an image larger than it appears in the book, you will lose a certain amount of quality.

Note: When you click on the "images" link above, select Image Gallery View at the top right of the window to see a larger preview of most of the images (but not those in zip form).

  5. Unused stories about Lou Flewell-Smith, Frank & Rita Forde, and Myra Beach. Stories that were laid out as chapters, but not used.

  6. General
This folder contains files of general interest pertaining to Max, Tanksinking, and Julia Creek.

(a)  Photographs of the electoral rolls of 1909, 1914, 1921, 1930, 1939, 1954. Image names are in the form "3914a". The first two numbers are the year (1939), and the second two numbers are the page. Pages were sometimes split in two, indicated by the suffix "a" or "b". There is also a PDF file, in alphabetical order, of voters who had a Julia Creek address. 1954 is incomplete.

(b)  School documents. These include:
• Alphabetical listing of children and the year they enrolled;
• Official correspondence;
• Head teacher comments on a yearly basis;
• A partial transcription from The JC State School 75 Jubilee 1911-1986;
• Statistics about the children (aged <6, <12, >12; average age; whether Church of England, Roman Catholic, Presbyterian or Methodist; number of days school was held; and aggregate attendance).

(c)  Cemetery records.
(d)  Hotels – a list of licensees and dates.
(e)  Inquests – Jim Edwards, Jim Malone, Maurice O'Connell.
(f)   Tanks built by Bode & McKay, with date, property, owner, size, total cost, and cost per cubic yard.
(g)  Calvale School History. Mentions Max Burns, and that Joy and Don were among the first intake.
(h)  A list (incomplete) of properties where Max built tanks. Page references are to the bankruptcy transcripts.
(i)   A list (incomplete) of tanksinkers who worked for Max and the year they started.
(j)   Magistrate Court records from Julia Creek and Cloncurry, including Dummy Blanch and the death of Paul Byrnes.
(k)  Timeline of events relating to Julia Creek.
(l)  Source material for Duncan McIntyre and Ernest Henry.

Progress of the book (2009)
11 Sep...   Second Proof sent to printers for quotes.
21 Sep...   Printed at on a Xerox iGen at Typographical Services by Mike Berry, Melbourne.
25 Sep...   Arrived at Leith; order forms sent out by mail and email.
02 Oct...    Binding of the Second Proof begins (a Third Proof still to come, before the final print).
07 Oct...    Finished binding of Second Proof.
17 Oct...    Finished proof reading; started correcting contrast of images.
20 Oct…    Reached agreement with Typo on price of printing.
21 Oct…    Freelife Smooth 120 GSM not in stock, and sample of Perpetuum not yet arrived. Paper changed to Saxton Chardonnay 115 GSM (140 GSM endpapers).
26 Oct...    Final B&W proof, and third colour proof sent to Melbourne for printing.
29 Oct…    4 B&W copies and one colour copy printed.
05 Nov…    Received 4 B&W copies and 1 colour copy. Printed at ~94.2% instead of 100%, but otherwise okay.
19 Nov…    Received 3 B&W and 3 colour.
01 Dec…    Received 3 B&W and 7 colour.
11 Dec…    Received 5 B&W and 7 colour.
11 Dec…    First four copies posted -- to buyers in the Julia Creek area.
16 Dec...    Received final 17 colour copies.

Progress of the book (2010)
17 Jul...    Finished binding last normal copy.
20 Jul...    Finished binding the First Proof as single sheets (printed Dec 2008).

 … sheets folded

 … drilled

 … and stitched

 … to form the text block.

 Text block placed in press, and backing cloth glued in place.


First book bound in kangaroo leather and linen with leather lettering. The words "Max Burns" won't appear on other copies.

Above: First nine copies (9/12/2009)

Above: Friends perusing the first nine copies (9/12/2009). The unofficial book launch (there won't be any other).
Guy Burns,
Oct 3, 2009, 10:47 PM
Guy Burns,
Oct 3, 2009, 10:55 PM
Guy Burns,
Oct 2, 2009, 2:06 PM
Guy Burns,
Oct 6, 2009, 11:49 PM
Guy Burns,
Dec 12, 2009, 5:29 AM
Guy Burns,
Oct 2, 2009, 1:45 PM
Guy Burns,
Dec 8, 2009, 7:08 AM
Guy Burns,
Oct 3, 2009, 1:43 AM
Guy Burns,
Oct 3, 2009, 1:46 AM