A delegation from "down under" is riding five farm tractors across Iowa and the United States. Ron Bywaters is leading the group of Australians in the cross-country journey aboard red-and-green Chamberlain Champion 9-G tractors, all built in the late 1950s or early 1960s.

Bywaters says they’re about half-way across America now. "The people have been delightful," Bywaters says. "I just cannot find enough adjectives to describe the hospitality and generosity we’ve received from the people in this country, and in particular, here in Iowa." The Aussies started their journey in late June in Baltimore, Maryland, and have since driven their tractors through eight states. Today, they’re heading for the town of Clarion to stay overnight.

They hope to make it to Los Angeles by the first week in September. Bywaters says it’s a slow, steady pace. He says the tractors top out around 30 miles an hour so they have to stay off interstates which provides them the opportunity to see the crops and talk to lots of people. Bywaters says their objective is simply to enjoy the adventure, comradeship and freedom. He says farm tractors are no longer made in his home country.

He says Chamberlain Industries fell into financial trouble in 1970 and John Deere bought a 49-percent interest in the company. In the 1980s, the manufacturing process ceased in Australia and they’ve been importing tractors ever since. You can learn more about the journey on the website: www.transworldtractortreks.com .