Sylvia Jessie Catherine BIRDSEYE

Also known as: née Merell

Born: 26/01/1902

Died: 9/08/1962

Special Achievements:

Pioneer of transport services in South Australia.  First woman in South Australia to gain a Commercial Driving Licence (1923).  Memorial cairn on Eyre Highway; Birdseye Highway - first highway in South Australia to be named after a woman; Birdseye Lane in Canberra.
Began work as a bus driver at 19.  In 1928, she and her husband pioneered and maintained the Eyre Peninsula Motor Service.  For almost 40 years, she drove 3,200 km a week, mostly at night.  Renowned for providing a reliable and economic service under hazardous conditions, she was known as “Grandmother Queen of the Open Road.”  Daisy Bates was one of her regular customers.


  • References

    Kelsh, Margaret.  (1994, October/Volume 4, Number 3).  Sylvia Birdseye’s car.  Community History, 24.

  • Image - Sylvia Birdseye

    National Trust of South Australia file B71279.tif

    Photo provided by, and used with permission of, National Trust of South Australia.