I’m an average guy, no really. I will be really honest about myself here. I have two great children , a daughter Yasmin, and my son Jackson. Jackson lives with me and Yasmin lives in my home town of Christchurch New Zealand. I lived in Christchurch my whole life but after the big earthquake of 2011 the city wasn’t the same, I needed a change. I needed a challenge.
I was a tradesman, something that was transferable from country to country. So I packed up my tools, looked around on eBay Australia for a van and booked a flight to Brisbane. My partner Sarah stayed behind in Christchurch so I could set things up in the new country. I was the ‘forward landing party’, so to speak.
This started off something fantastic. I couldn’t have planned this and if is wasn’t for the earthquake, as devastating as it was, I wouldn’t have had all the experiences I have had here. I didn’t know where I would find work, or how. My first day in Australia consisted of three fights so I could end up in a small place in rural New South Wales called Tamworth, this is where my van, and my home was to be found. It was exciting and scary all at the same time .
I got off the tiny plane at the Tamworth airstrip and walked into town. Finding the van I was elated, it was just as described. I had a van, and a home. A quick trip into town and I had a pillow, an airbed and a sleeping bag. My very first night in Australia was in the van, and that’s how it stayed for a month. I loved it, not like, loved it. I was in the flooring trade at the time so I could pack up my bed, slide it away, load in the flooring and away I went for the day. No one was any the wiser.
I was known as the guy willing to travel, it was like a holiday. I was paid to travel to far away places, I could work, look around, explore, all the while I had the most freedom ever. The van was great, the weather was good, the sights were outstanding.
I guess that’s when it started. I wanted to see more, and more. But life and expectations can get in the way. We all have to work, we all think we need the best of everything , and that’s when my mind started questioning this. Do we need the best of what’s available today ?. I had a van that cost me $1800 and I still had comments like “Mate, you’ve seen more of Aussie than I have, and I’m a local !”.
Their is one other big, important factor. I’m not embarrassed about it, and I’m open to sharing it. About two years ago I was told I have ADD, Attention Deficit Disorder, and its all rubbish. Not that I have it, because believe me I do. What I have is not a freaking disorder !. I have some traits about my personality that definitely are a bit crappy, my moods can fluctuate a little more than the ‘normal person’, I may not focus completely on what someone is saying because my mind can drift a little, I can make a few silly decisions , but what I have learnt is this is the reason I have a really active creative side. Its not abnormal in society, many well known artists, even movie producers and actors have conditions similar to mine.
So, should I feel annoyed and let down that I have this thing ?. Yeah, I did. But I realised that if I didn’t have it I wouldn’t see the ‘art’ in things. I wouldn’t be able to build and create the things I do. I have never been taught any mechanical skills, yet my mind allows me to see the thing I want to build in my head. Take the Car transport trailer you will see in several of my postings. That was built from a pile of steel, I knew what I wanted, I knew exactly how I wanted it to operate.
Their was no plan, no drawing, it worked from day one just as it is now, The work to Charlie and Milly is the same, I love it. They are both old , I can cut and add things, make them just how I want. They are incredibly basic so I can repair them anywhere for little cost.
Don’t get me wrong here, I’m not some sort of clever dick, some blow-my-own-trumpet, smart-ass. What I have described here is the good and the bad about me, and I have done it for good reason.
My blog/website/Facebook sites are not about me being super duper. If I hadn’t told you about the real me you are seeing one half, the good side, the bit we all want to show. So that would be me doing cool stuff and sounding like I’m some sort of genius. And I don’t want that. This is about over coming barriers. Not just with some sort of problem like mine, but ALL barriers. This is what I’m about. I too put up barriers about travel ” I need a better car, more money, bigger caravan, more flash extras”.
But we don’t and I’m going to prove it. 40 years ago Charlie the Yellow Land Rover and Milly the pop-top caravan were new, and so was I to be honest as I was only 5. Back then in 1976 the new owners would have marvelled at the all the features, OK ‘features’ is probably not the correct word for Charlie, but the owners would have loved them just as we do now in a new car. Why?, because that’s all their was. Did they refuse to get in the Land Rover because it didn’t have air conditioning ? Maybe, but then your options meant you could walk, and not text your mates for a lift, or deal without air conditioning.
We survived because that’s what we do as humans. When we had a horse it was better than walking, when we got a car it was better than a horse, so the horse was out, and so on, and so on. Till here we are, in a society where we are all better off because devices do everything for us and think for us too, yet we work all the time to pay for such things and we all just seem to be getting fatter than we once were (me included) and less mobile, and this is better for us ?
So I pose the question, will I see the same sights, taste the same foods, and enjoy the same lifestyle on the road in the most basic car and caravan I can find ? Will this be a barrier ? lets find out. This isn’t just travel, its travel without barriers.
Welcome to NakedOffRoad. It’s travel stripped bare. Few cars are more basic, or iconic than my ’76 Land Rover yet I’m going to prove that this is a positive, not a negative. I’m going to test my skills, my stamina, my abilities to get to some of Australia’s most challenging locations in a car many see as a nice old classic to run to the shops. I know I can do this, I know I’m perfectly matched to Charlie as his support crew.
Let me explain from the start here though. I’m not a writer, photographer or journalist. Never have been. What I can do is describe my thoughts in sentences I manage to string together that sometimes make sense, if I can keep focused long enough !. The fact is I enjoy putting my thoughts on paper, the computer I’m still coming to terms with but we are managing to understand each other a little more than we did.
Photography, well that’s interesting too. I bought a camera for under $500 and set the dial to “auto”. Easy, well that’s not strictly correct as I do change the dial to “night” when required. However, Yasmin, my daughter who is an amateur photographer asked what settings I put the camera on when I’m shooting. ‘ISO’ setting, shutter speeds, etc. I explained, to her horror that the camera is much smarter than I so I just set the dial and push the button. Apparently that’s not how its done.
So, this blog is a simple combination of many things that I enjoy, a few things I have that just make me a little more interesting to some, a bit nuts to others, and the half-arsed ability to string a few words together and perhaps get a few photos that might turn out ok, purely by chance. This is what I would say if I was asked to describe Naked Off Road in a few words.