When you’ve had enough of sun, sand and sangria in your life, and the uncertain attractions of the English Riviera have faded, where next for the holiday of a lifetime? For retired local government consultant Vic Quayle and his wife Pam, it had to be a real adventure, so where better to go than into the remote Outback of Australia and do what the ‘Grey Nomads’ do – get a motor home and drive into the sunset, where the road stops and the dirt track begins.
Overcoming logistics, bureaucracy and the biggest hurdle of all – finding a suitable vehicle for the journey – they eventually purchased a six-wheel Toyota that they named ‘Matilda’ and, with echoes of ‘Priscilla Queen of the Desert’, they headed off to see parts of the country where tourists rarely go.
Their journey took them to deserted beaches, down lonely desert tracks, and they visited small towns and communities as they travelled through the remote Outback, where they had close encounters with turtles, pythons, kangaroos, dingoes, and even wild camels. They also visited familiar tourist spots such as Uluru, Kings Canyon, Great Ocean Road and the Whitsunday Isles, but also other gems such as the Bungle Bungles, Lake Eyre and Tunnel Creek.
With seasonal thoughts turning next year’s holiday plans, Vic and Pam have put their experiences down into a very practical and readable book aimed at people who are looking for a very different sort of holiday.
They enjoyed terrific Australian hospitality, even celebrating Christmas in November with one family, and spent many an evening yarning round a campfire with a tinnie under the stars.
Pam and Vic learned about the Long Paddock, the origins of QANTAS, and how Australia nearly became a Dutch or French colony. They followed the original Ghan railway, and watched sheep being sheared.
Their hobbies were indulged as well. Pam went to the Australian Open Tennis, and Vic got involved with a car rally.
On the road, they had all manner of adventures and overcame some problems with Matilda. During their travels, there was tragedy, the joy of an unexpected birth, even a spell in hospital.
Waltzing Matilda Around Australia is their story, but beware – having read it, you will want to go yourself.
Vic is also the author of A High in the Andes, which tells of how he and Pam, in 2001, tackled the Inca Trail Rally in South America ‐ 25,000 km in 55 days in 6 countries ‐ in a modified Toyota Colorado, and came home with a gold medal.