I should perhaps have titled it ‘Family Holiday Memories or Lack Thereof’, as I have to confess that my memories of this part of my life, well, they are somewhat hazy at best. But what I do know about my wasted youth, if I may call it that, is that our family had a lot of family holidays from Queensland to Tasmania and quite a bit in between.
My Dad was always trying something new, always pursuing a passion and I think the rest of us – mum, my brother and myself, got swept up in it. I remember in the early 80s Dad came home one day with a brand new car – a silver-green Range Rover. Wow! It was so big, and there weren’t many like it on the roads at all at that time.
For reasons best known to Dad though, that car only lasted a few years and it was replaced by a dark red Range Rover, and this would be the car that he had for quite a while. He was also into dogs, and he had two Welsh Springer Spaniels that he took to shows, and in fairness they were beautiful dogs. The number plate of the car was changed to ‘TARFGI’, which from memory was Welsh for Spaniel or something along those lines, so as you can see it wasn’t one to do things by halves.
And having a 4WD wasn’t enough. The SUV has taken over from the 4WD, and everyone bar me seems to have one these days. But in the 1980s, they were something of a rarity. And if you had one, well you probably did actually take it off-road as they say. And Dad certainly was up for that and for a period of, at a guess, 2-3 years we went on several four wheel drive trips with Melbourne ‘Range Rover Club’.
I’ve been thinking hard about things to write about for the blog, and I realised that past trips might be interesting not just for the reader but for myself to think about and revisit, and so I asked my parents for photos of some of our trips, and we found an album with a few, including some trips taken with the Range Rover Club.
Dad got right into it. Not just the number plate but he had a winch installed at the front of the ‘Rangey’ as we affectionately called it. The back had a special fridge for trips, and we would pop the tent in the back too, we had one of those large tents that has a couple of rooms and an annex when fully erected. And we would head out for the weekend to tackle the Aussie Bush in these giant cars with difflocks, roof racks and winches.
And Victoria certainly had plenty of tracks to traverse. I gather groups could be as many as ten cars or more, and most if not all had the ol’ CB radio installed and everyone could connect with the other cars. Yes, no mobile phones in the 80s! The phrase ‘breaker breaker’ was used ad nauseum and Dad got very excited one time when someone on the radio told him he had a sexy voice!
The tracks were often water damaged and we would have to crossed creeks and rivers, and so you would stop and walk across and see what was the best way to pass. Hills could be very steep, and if a car didn’t find itself on the right part of the track, well that’s when the winch would come in handy. Cars would get caught in bogs or mud too. And sometimes there would be fallen trees and other debris on the track, and the winch was good for removing that. Or if there wasn’t enough traction going up a slippery hill, you could winch to a tree at the top and get pulled up!
And in the back of the car we would bounce around like it was a trampoline. Which is fun! For a short time. But this went on all day, and at the end you had to put up a tent! Still there were loads of new people to meet, I was always a curious kid and would ask others too many questions.
The last day would see us finally arrive back at civilisation. Back on sealed roads and heading back to the big smoke. I wonder in retrospect just how much environmental damage was done by those big four wheel drives.
The memories are not strong, and I’m not sure they are particularly fond either, but they are there and it was a part of my childhood. Dad always had photography as a hobby so thankfully I have some interesting shots to show you. I’ve never really been able to work out how much my mum liked the things Dad got into, such as four wheel driving. I think she enjoyed it. She wouldn’t let on though if she didn’t.
I don’t think people do four wheel driving trips like they used to. I imagine the bush gets pretty churned up by vehicles anyways and I think less damage of this or any kind can only be a good thing. But they were trips that had a certain level of fun. Although really we spent many hours each day in the back of a car so I don’t know how engaged either my brother or I really were. Still, adventure is adventure, no matter the conveyance!
Did you ever go or do you go today four wheel driving? Does it appeal to you? Please comment! Thanks for popping by today! Take care, and May the Journey Never End!