I was recently tinkering with the ‘van set up again and my mind wandered off to some past travels we have enjoyed where this little addition would have been handy. Placing the tools down on the bench for a moment, it occurred to me that our desire for travelling this great land and beyond isn’t some recent phase we’re going through. There is a reason we enjoy hitting the road, and sometimes the off-road.
Sure, we’ve travelled a fair bit, the wife and I as well as our family members, some with and without fur, from back in the 90’s as we ventured around the less explored regions of Oz. We had previously taken a short holiday up to a beaut little spot called 1770 on Queensland’s coast and we suddenly felt this urge to travel more, to explore, to be free, to follow the sun. All these clichés just seemed to flow. Well not quite, but you get the idea. Anyway, we sold up everything and what remained we loaded into an old Series 3 Landrover and 21’ Chesney caravan. That’s a whole other story.
But it wasn’t that short trip that gave us the urge surely, there must have been something deeper that drives us to want to pack our limited possessions into a small metal box of whatever type and propel ourselves within meters of similarly possessed individuals hurtling along in the opposite direction.
So what drives us, inspires us, or incites us to want to travel the open road?
On further contemplation I realised it was part of how I grew up as a young lad, how my parents had happily travelled from coast to coast of Australia with ratbag kids in tow, and for that I truly thank them.
One of my earlier memories was a holiday from Perth to Brisbane in the mid-seventies. Of course back then vehicles and road conditions were very different to the luxuries we enjoy now. This particular trip was in a 1969 Valiant sedan, the VIP model, which was pretty flash in the day. It had a powerful 245 cubic inch slant six with smooth three speed auto. However the black vinyl seats could take a layer of skin off on a hot summers day. On that particular trip we were towing what seemed back then a monstrously large caravan, all 19’6″ of dual axled enormity. No doubt the towing capacity and ratings were fine although back then the information was not as readily available.
In that era the Nullabor was still just a deeply corrugated gravel road all the way. I may be drawing on a hazy memory, but I had travelled that road a few times in my youth and there was never an expectation of it being anything but long and rough. At one point a passing car with a load of fellows was frantically waving us down as a caravan tyre was rapidly deflating. The roughness of the road meant we simply had no idea. Us travellers are still fortunate to this day there are so many helpful people out there roaming with us.
The Nullabor was a place for many weird and wonderful happenings over the years, from raving mad nymphs to UFO’s, although the wildest scene we were confronted with was a car full of young guys who had strapped a lounge chair to the roof of their Morris sedan and were quite happily taking in the breeze at considerable speed. On passing, one hoped their driver didn’t have to take any animal avoidance actions at short notice.
It is with great joy and happiness I can sit back and relive those adventures. I also am happy in the knowledge we too as parents took our young fellow across more remote parts of this great country and only hope he too finds the opportunity and makes time to explore and enjoy this amazing country we are blessed to live in.
So what was your inspiration? Did you travel in your early years, go camping and spend weekends either at some dusty waterhole or caravan park. For those with kids now, are you taking them on trips short or long when you can? It’s a memory they will never forget.
Not too many kids will remember their best weekend watching TV, but you can bet they’ll tell all their friends about the weekend by a billabong.
So go on, make some memories.
See ya Outback