PENELOPE GOES WEST – ON THE ROAD FROM SYDNEY TO MARGARET RIVER AND BACK
Look! It’s a dunny in a tree! Well, it was on a fence post actually…
We had bought Penelope in Tasmania, a diesel Series 80 Landcruiser with only 45 000 on the clock. What a joy she has been. We still have her today. Apart from our recently installed LPG gas injection system for more efficient burning of fuel, more power and best of all economy, there is not a computer in sight. A mechanic anywhere in Australia can fix anything that goes wrong, not that much does. Which is just as well, because I am no mechanic.
Our camper was sighted at the Caravan and Camping show at Roseville Racecourse in Sydney, in 1997. The Jayco Flight RV had plenty of clearance and Ros thought its interior fit out was so luxurious compared with our old Kombi that she immediately said it must be called ‘The Manor’. David Carrick, the Jayco Sales Manager said – as quick as a flash – ‘Well, you’ll have to call your Landcruiser Penelope then.’ (The British comedy series To the Manor Born starring the formidable Penelope Keith, was currently screening on ABC TV.)
I was horrified. ‘But’, I protested to Ros, ‘We can’t have a 4WD called Penelope, everyone will laugh and point. And what about my hairy-chested outback image?’
‘You haven’t got one’, said my life’s partner, and that was that. Penelope and The Manor it was.
Our first expedition to the south of Western Australia was going to have to be done in high summer, because Ros was doing a horticulture course at that time, and our window for travel was only the two-months summer vacation. (I ventured my Dorothy Parker line – ‘You can lead a whore to culture, but you can’t make her think’, but only got a rather tired smile from Ros.) We hoped for a cool crossing of the Nullarbor.
A set of drawers was fitted in the rear of the 4WD to access tools, our jack, and other essentials that could be got at without unloading the whole car, and a roof rack mainly for firewood which even in those days had to be taken into national parks. And so we set off as much as possible following the courageous route of the explorer, Edward John Eyre, the first to traverse the soaring cliffs of the Great Australian Bight, from South Australia to Albany in Western Australia and who set off in June 1840. He and his companions took over a year to complete his perilous journey one way. We had to get there and back in two months, doing it more comfortably it must be said.
In fact we were to return to the west a year later to explore the incomparable Kimberley region, the Pilbara and the Mid west.
LINK TO AUDIBLE.COM TO OBTAIN AUDIO BOOK DOWNLOAD OF ‘PENELOPE GOES WEST’.
- ABANDONED AT FOSSIL BLUFF – A remarkable account of Antarctic survival
- PENELOPE SPEAKS… 1
- PENELOPE SPEAKS… 2
- PENELOPE SPEAKS… 3
- PENELOPE SPEAKS… 4
- OBITUARIES – MY, HOW THEY’VE CHANGED…
- SCRABBLE – OBSESSION OR NECESSITY?
- STUBBORN BUGGERS – The survivors of the infamous POW gaol that made Changi look like heaven
- PART ONE – NAGASE TAKASHI, A SINGULAR JAPANESE
- PART TWO – ERIC LOMAX & NAGASE TAKASHI
- PART THREE – THE MEETING WITH NAGASE
- PART FOUR – SEEING THE MOVIE ‘THE RAILWAY MAN’
- ODDMENTS 1
- THE CHANGI CAMERA
- Dame Edna’s Last Fond Farewell Tour
- Antarctica And Back in Sixty Days
- Bashing The Poor Old ABC
- BackChat Remembered
- Amundsen Centenary Celebrations 2
- Quaking and Shaking in En Zed