Rob Gray :: ontheroad :: wothahellizat :: wot1 :: diaries :: issue-036


10 Apr 2001

We leave the showground and drive to Lake Wyangan, just north of Griffith. This was used as a staging area before and after the rally and when we arrived there must have been 20 rigs parked in the camping area. I decide it will be too much trouble to do a hard right and join them so we drive straight ahead to the picnic area and park on the lake side.

Fig 1. Parked on the shores of Lake Wyangan.

For a while we had some peace but as I was taking the above photo, with my camera on the ground and bum in the air, I heard "What's he doing", then "Taking a photo I think".

I stood up and faced two men who were by now looking at the truck. "Did you build it yourself?" they asked. We chatted for a while then they left.

I took some more photos then noticed a swarm of women heading my way. It seems they were artists and, when they heard I was a photographer, had to come over and check things out. "Did you build it yourself?", "How long did it take"?, "What kind of photography do you do?", "Just travelling around eh? I'd love to do that".

Eventually they left and I retreated to the lounge room, collapsing into my trusty recliner. I raised the footrest and closed my eyes.

Fig 2. Relaxing in the lounge room.

It was such a peaceful place, delightfully warm with a slight breeze and the sound of water gently lapping on the shore. Perfect for an afternoon nap. I started to nod off...

There was a scrunching of feet on gravel, then...

"Did you build it yourself?"

11 Apr 2001

We stay with Steve and Jill in Ardlethan on the way home, they are the current owners of the Bedford we were parked with at the rally. Arriving just in time for dinner we cracked open some of Steve's home brew, had a nice meal, then settled in to watch some videos showing their exploits in the truck.

Steve and Jill have owned the Bedford for 25 years and it's been a proven performer. Some of the video footage will make your hair curl as the 9-tonne beast is bogged on sandhills in the Simpson Desert, gets it's mirrors, lights and just about everything else ripped off on the Anne Beadel Track and slides violently in the mud on a rain soaked Corner Country plane.

Chris is looking at me as if to say "We're not going to do that are we?".

Well the answer is "Probably not" as our truck is larger than the Bedford and it's also our only major possession so we have to be more careful.

Next morning I rise just before the sun and climb onto the roof to get a shot of Steve's two WORTs, the old and the new.

Fig 3. Part of Steve and Jill's back yard.

Steve has already "knocked up" an A-frame for the Suzuki (a quickie but better than most jobs I've seen) and they will be delivering the Bedford to its new owners then returning in the Suzi. The exchange is in Geraldton, 4000ks away. That's an 8000k (5000 miles) round trip with no sightseeing, just driving. Rather them than me.

Fig 4. Steve and Jill's two WORTs.

They are selling the Bedford because Steve is finding it too hard to drive and Jill doesn't drive it at all. The replacement can be seen in the above two photos, a Bedford chassis with an Austin bus body.

Obviously there is still a long way to go with this project but it will get done and should be a serious piece of gear. Because it's smaller and has amazing approach and departure angles it should really be able to go anywhere. Probably more important is the power steering which means Jill can share the driving.

We were parked in Steve and Jill's ample back yard, along with their two trucks, a house boat, two caravans, a gantry and assorted chassis, VW kombi bodies, sheds etc.

Fig 5. Our truck easily fits into the yard.

It drove home to me something I originally thought of a couple of years ago, that is that visiting friends is going to be different from now on. Normally, when travelling, you drop in on your friends, park in the driveway and stay in a spare bedroom.

When you travel in a 14-tonne truck you don't just park in someone's driveway, you have to find somewhere that can handle such a vehicle, a nearby vacant lot or maybe a caravan park. The whole dynamics of the visit has changed, now one of you has to commute to the other.

So instead of being able to sit up 'till 3am with a few beers then stumble into bed, somebody has to drive home. Instead of the girls retiring early and the boys sitting up for hours (or vice versa) getting tipsy and telling lies, you have to drive home together.

I hope most of my friends can accommodate the truck, if not in their driveway, at least within walking distance.