Holliday Locally

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 Get out on the open road for a short trip, and explore this great country of ours. It may be more rewarding than you think … Story by Peter Lyne.

Recently the co-driver and I responded to the challenge of the Federal Government urging Australians to head out on a break for a day or weekend journey touring this great country. 

The Government’s call has been well supported, with domestic tourism displaying a recent increase in this state … designed to keep cash registers ringing and to keep business doors open. Both of us have always enjoyed picnics, but never regularly. However, the past few months has seen weekend journeys reach new heights.

To all over stressed pill poppers, those who experience low periods like boredom, I urge you to take up the challenge to ‘getaway’ from the window of a ‘normal’ weekend/day environment. The guarantee is you will be relaxed and invigorated, leading to a fresh look on life. 

For many reasons we forget about the joys of these travels, although it had always been on my agenda – like most of us who have ignored the passion to seek the pearls in Australia. We fall through the cracks and put this type of adventure on hold, because lives become hectic with marriage, children, sports and the immersion of ourselves in work. 

We tend to lose the plot; for me, work was mostly 24/7. We push ourselves, forgetting our sense of adventure and what life is all about.

Over the years I’ve enjoyed living in the country and the cosmopolitan charms of Sydney, Melbourne and Brisbane, savoring the fruits of a vineyard and enjoying many an hour on our beaches.

The recent journeys have been one of discovery, relaxation and are great, all due to one element that is an as essential as petrol and oil … having the best company. No! Not the dog! In my case, the co-driver.

I wish to share the incredible efficiency of mine and hope you have one as multi-skilled and classy seated in the passenger seat. 

Mine fits like a glove. You will soon understand why … 

Not the usual shuffler of the CDs, conversationalist identifying the country and oral tour guide. From the beginning, the co-driver is a piece of artistic work; you could say she is ‘Poetry in Motion’.

Packing a picnic basket and other things were never difficult for me. But now with the co-driver taking charge, there is a mental check list of all items being carefully ticked off. 

From the opening of the rear of the 4-wheel drive, everything is placed in sequence with a purpose … you know the female drill! 

Since the co-driver has assumed control of the goodies basket and other ‘essential’ items, the adventures have reached a new perspective. Our list of inclusions crammed into the basket and associated bags would make the head chef  of the world’s leading hotel proud. 

Once the rear is packed, one wonders how the Hell the holiday paraphernalia fits. Everything is covered: a change of clothes, bottle opener, hats, binoculars, cameras, first aid kit containing everything for any situation (leeches, mosquitoes, flies and spiders). In fact, I think a surgeon would find enough apparatus to do major surgery.

Nothing is missed!

How many head off on a day trip with gum boots … yes I have asked the reason. The reply is always, “Why not?” 

Maybe the thinking is I may have a driving lapse and head into a river or creek. Who knows? But I guess one day the reply will be: ”I told you they will come in handy.”

The glint in the eye and cheeky smile gives the message – time to head off on another adventure. Driving along our highways heading along our secondary and un-tarred roads exploring the wonders of Oz is relaxing … the magnificent scenery, incredible mountain ranges, forests, farming land.

Touring has now reached new levels when accompanied by an open-minded, outdoor lover with a free spirit, with the wind rustling through her golden locks reminding me of yesteryear when the wind once breezed through mine. No mindless prattle or any boring moments … every metre is engrossing. 

Recommending a place to stop is easy for the co-driver, who is blessed with uncanny navigational skills (I call it luck) and the brilliance of discovering the perfect picnic place … quicker than a fly. 

Stopping and soaking up the scenery, the thoughts of who may have been here a century or more ago … our forefathers and pioneers who trekked along this beautiful land cross my mind. During this period of serenity, I revert to reality when asked to spring into action after my rest period from driving chores with the next element of this touring partnership very important … it is time to seek the bottle opener and act as bartender and toast the co-driver on yet another magnificently prepared banquet. 

The discoveries of new destinations: old relics, history, cemeteries (try a visit one day; it is a trip through history), antique shops, roadside stalls  full of home delights, domestic and wild animals and the extraordinary friendly people who live in country towns is a different world. 

Our day/s usually finish hundreds of kilometres from our starting point and end tasting the joys of dinner and a wine at a century old country pub, exchanging banter on the day’s adventures. The drive home is never long or tiring. The mind is clear, with the journey ending mid-evening. 

These day trips can and have been full of surprises – particularly last month, which saw me having an emotional trip back in time. Spending much of my early couple of decades surrounded by a farming environment, the co-driver on a recent journey with usual wisdom noted we were closing in on my former home territory. 

Loving this part of the world, I thought it had been a couple of decades since an appearance, so off we ventured. Not knowing what to expect, as most of the elderly relatives had moved or passed away, and with lives heading in different directions, my world was about to dramatically alter. 

If visiting this area and the farm which could tell many a story were not enough to move me to tears, then a new piece of information was about to see me stunned. 

While being bowled over by memories, I was oblivious to a car stopping on the dusty road to ask if we were lost. The co-driver was relaying to the local the reason. The result was a glint in the eye, conveying she had a surprising and welcome piece of news. 

The news was about to change my life; the farm was still owned by my aunt, who had to surrender her lifestyle to a local aged-care unit due to leg problems. Numb and nervous by the news and though encouraged to head to see my aunt (my second mum), the emotions told me to come back another day. 

“Oh no!” I said The co-driver was adamant, so off we went.

The next hour and half was an experience indescribable. My aunt was overjoyed to see me, displaying a razor sharp memory. One of her characteristics has been to tell many a yarn (always truth), with the conversation drifting along many tangents. 

One of her joys has been the tales of the antics of my cousins and myself when maturing (?) and proceeding to bombard the co-driver with some embarrassing stories (that to me were very embellished)! 

We left promising to return next month, though I did have the thought of going solo to reduce further poisoning of the co-driver’s mind … but the thought only lasted a second. 

So thanks to the Federal Government for suggesting the challenge and to all the co-drivers who make touring and exploring so enjoyable. Hope yours is as talented and brilliant as mine. 

So get out and enjoy life, help our tourism industry and accept the invitation to discover our magnificent country for a day, weekend or week. 

It is not expensive … ’DO NOT DIE WONDERING’.

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