Mar. 30th, 2010

skyring: (Default)
Trying to get back to the airport after a lamb burrito in Zambrero, I was approached by a couple of jaunty folk.

"You free?" they asked.

Avoiding the obvious riposte, I indicated that I was available.

"EPIC," they said.

I agreed. Exhibition Park in Canberra. Not on the way to the airport, but a nice fare, straight up Northbourne. The National Folk Festival is being held there in a few days, and these folk looked like early attendees.

Dropped them off at the main entrance, headed back down the road. Northbourne Avenue is as close as Canberra comes to having a main street. The Federal Highway from Sydney becomes Northbourne about where EPIC is located, and suddenly drivers are out of highway mode, sliding through suburbs and motels, the flagpole of Parliament House visible in the far distance on Capital Hill across the lake.

An odd car ahead of me. Weird numberplate, covered in advertising, roof rack full of stuff. I pulled out my camera, but the battery pack was exhausted, so my fallback was the iPhone's minicam.
Swiss VolvoSwiss Volvo on Northbourne Ave

I pulled alongside when the lights turned red at Antill Street. Quite a long change. The smiling driver noticed me beside him, wound down his window and told me he'd driven here from Switzerland.

I was astonished. I've heard of people doing such things, and indeed my first book was partly inspired by two such journeys (same vehicle, same people, twenty years apart), but here was one of these rare marvels actually driving down Northbourne Avenue!

"It took me seven months!" he said proudly. I nodded - such an epic journey over some of the most difficult territory in the world.

Swiss Volvo Driver

I could see the lights about to change. I won't say I'm familiar with the patterns of every intersection in Canberra, but most of the major ones, you get to know them well.

"Do you have a blog?" I asked. Strange to be chatting with a driver of another vehicle. His steering wheel was on the left hand side of his Volvo, so of course he was only about a metre away.

"On the roof," he said, indicating behind him. Sure enough, on one of the components of his roof equipment - he seemed to have an entire ecosystem up there, covered in advertising - was a web address:

Swiss Volvo Back

The lights changed and we went our different ways. I got most of the way to the airport, before a radio job took me off to West Belconnen, and it wasn't for some time that I had leisure to whip out the laptop to check out his adventure.

He drove from Switzerland to see the Melbourne Cup!

His blog, in a PDF format, is here.

What a story! He wisely drove with a succession of co-drivers, who wrote a lot of the blog entries, and there are some truly hair-raising adventures along the way, not least with machine-gun toting soldiers and policemen helping or hindering the journey.

More later.

– Peter Mac


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