Blue Healer Trip 1996.
Back in 1996 my pommepal and I hired a Toyota camp-van in Darwin. Stocked it with canned food we would need so we could visit Kakadu and Litchfield National Parks. It was Pauline’s first experience of this area and it had been 40 years since I had visited here. All had changed there was no need for my concern about provisions one could see almost all the highlights without getting off the tar-seal roads. We enjoyed all the wonders of these great National Parks. Pauline saw Australian animals in their natural environments at the wild life park at Litchfield.
When we got to Cairns Queensland we decided to travel less luxuriously and save money. We bought an old Mitsubitsu L300 van for $ 2,000. It was painted a powdery sky blue with patches of red lead paint, actually it was difficult to see where the red lead paint finished and the rust started. It was the same colour as the Aussie Blue cattle dog known as a ‘Blue Healer’. So I called the van the ‘Blue Healer’ and there was also a TV serial about the police called ‘The Blue Healer.’
So we could sleep in the van we removed a seat and bought a sheet of five ply wood to place between the back seat and rest on the ledge behind the front seat. Then we visited the recycle shop and bought all our camping needs. The only thing we bought new was our gas bottle. Pauline could tell you the total cost I never bother about costs as long it is within my budget. It was well within our budget it will have paid for its self after the first month.
We gave the Blue Healer a real test on its first trip from Cairns, at sea level, up to the Atherton Table lands. We stayed at a newly opened backpackers called ‘On the Wallaby’ at Youngaburra. We mostly stayed at freedom camps, they are free but some have a limit on time you can stay. For a change we sometimes stayed at old hotels or backpacker hostels. We also did WWOOF ing and learned organic gardening as well as all the local knowledge. WWOOFing is the way to meet interesting people and learn many astonishing things, most are vegetarians again we learned new recipes.
The old ’Blue Healer’ carried us over mountains and on bush tracks it forded streams and took that van where we never would have risked an expensive vehicle. It was small but Pauline and I had it set up to our liking and it was home, we loved our ‘Blue Healer’ it never failed us. We had an amazing trip on a meandering journey all the way to Sydney. In Sydney a warrant of fitness to sell a rusted out vehicle is not granted. So I reluctantly sold our ‘Blue Healer’ for parts. I like to think of that as recycling and that the parts are still traveling around.
When Pauline and I travel we like to meet people and see the things the locals enjoy. It is a learning adventure, not always easy, but we always have a bailout plan. We travel light and never keep pushing on beyond our resources in physical, stamina and finances. Always have your return ticket. You hear a lot of horror stories. Pauline and I have ventured way off the beaten tourist tracks and had no drastic problems. That is because people are usually a reflection of you and you need to deflect them. Do not dressed out-of-place or flaunt your wealth.
That may be why we had such a wonderful time in the ‘Blue Healer’ we had no worries about scratching the paint. We could have walked away no worries, other than hitching a lift, if it had failed us. A small van can fit in were the big vans have trouble and people were never envious of our great ‘Blue Healer.’ I have never enjoyed a vehicle more than the ‘Blue Healer’
I am not sketching much since digital cameras took over. Back in 1996 photography was expensive so I always did a sort of sketch diary and this was good. It gave me an excuse to take a rest and better observe things. Sketching can be like meditation you are fully focused. Now we still have thousands of photos deteriorating in a cupboard and I have my trip sketches of old trips. Drawings well not fade as photos and our memory does. Actually it is not our memory but our recall. This post has triggered my recall.