I never thought I would say “Let’s go for a ride”, but after flying and sailing four wheel driving is really something that provides a little adventure time after time. In our Toyota Landcruiser Prado, “the truck” for short.
Like flying, four wheel driving expands your world: you can go places normal cars can’t. Although I see quite some idiots trying their luck with the family car. I guess that’s Darwin at work.
Of course I take it step by step. There is a lot to learn and Australia is absolutely unforgiving to people who make stupid mistakes. Like being ignorant of where you are and not having some idea of a recovery plan, even for a simple “Sunday drive”. So I read a lot, listen to people, plan ahead, have back up maps (the GPS will quit at the wring moment) and have started equipping the truck with basic recovery and survival stuff. And will join a few 4WD courses. Better safe than sorry.
But it’s lots of fun and the landscapes are stunning. And when you do meet people, they are always friendly and inquisitive.
My job has some nice secondary benefits, like having to spend a few hours between two meetings whilst visiting Wellington, New Zealand. No bloody use traveling back to the office, as that would easily cost up to 90 minutes.
As I am especially interested in early 20th century history, walking into an exhibition about Gallipoli was a no-brainer. And man, they did something really special. Huge, like 8 times life size figures towering over the visitors, depicting chapters from WW1 and that absolute military disaster called “Gallipoli. And a storyline about a few soldiers, running from “before” to “after”. You kind off get to know them personally.
And they all die at the last few meters of the exhibition. So you walk out with a feeling of loss.
Having this great job that kind off blasts me with excitement (read: stress) every few hours, I really need a hobby that takes my mind to different plains.
So I caught up within old one, plastic models. Wrestled with the glue and paint and found my way. So bought a bigger model. A ship. A “corvette”.
Guess what? There’s an actual corvette right here in Melbourne. “HMS Castlemaine”. Awesome.
Visited her and was immediately full of respect for all the sailors that manned ships like this. Small, top heavy, roller coaster kind off taking waves.
The Landcruiser Prado took a few hits. We started out with dust, but soon thereafter we were slushing through mud. And somehow that is always after I’ve put the car through the washer.
Well, it makes for some artistic pictures.
That’s a white license plate on a silver car. Blue letters.
Artistic, as I said.
For Aussies the battlefields of WW1 are quite some traveling away. Me, being Dutch, it’s easier. You just get in your car and drive for about two hours and your right smack in the middle of things. Of course Gallipoli is further away, but Verdun, Amiens and Ypres are more or less around the corner.
Ar Ypres (you actually pronounce it “ee pruh” and not “wipers”) you can just walk into WW1. It has a fantastic museum in the “Laken hall”, which was actually more or less rebuilt brick by brick.
But take a moment and google your way around the countryside: wherever you go, you will touch history.
Driving back from another small adventure, tired and thirsty. Melbourne somewhere up ahead. Kind off staring my way through traffic, not really registering anything beyond the flow of things.
Until we slowly overtook this ute. Now let’s try to understand the story behind this.
It was a Sunday, so perhaps the guy visited his old mother, who finally returned the things he played with as a kid.
Or he has a special religion, where people worship animals. He just returned from mass.
Or he was at a fair and couldn’t resist this bargain. He will run into the house and shout “Irene, Irene (his wife), come look what I found!” She shakes her head and looks up at the ceiling, trying to look beyond at some god that can explain this madness. The house is filled with toy animals. The elephant, life size, another bargain, stands in the middle of the living room.
I really must look up that company: two fat wombats.