Flying on Jetstar is always an interesting experience. It’s the budget of budget airlines. Cheap seats usually mean you are perched on a crate of live chickens somewhere in the cargo hold, right next to a family from Chechnya and across from a pile of strange canisters with radioactive stickers on them.
This flight was no different. Already almost two hours late as the captain tried to reassure us with “just fixing a mechanical difficulty”. Always a promising statement as we’re hurtling down the runway. I’ve seen Wesley Snipes get off a plane later than this via the landing gear and I start wondering if I’m too old to pull off the same manoeuvre?
The two things going my way was that I was stoked to be heading to Sydney to join up with rally photographer Michael Vettas to head to Canberra for the opening ARC round. The other was that I was sitting right at the back of the plane. You don’t hear of too many planes reversing into a mountain. #winning.
Strangely we were only ten minutes into the flight and literally everyone around me was already asleep. All six people in the rows in front of me, the three to the left, the three just behind me and opposite. Even the Hello Kitty girls I was sharing a row with. I know it’s 1am in the morning but with all the shakes, noises and the fact it was only a few minutes ago we took off and hurtled directly up in the air, banked right into an almost vertical roll, I was WIDE awake. They must either be seasoned travellers or there was a door ajar somewhere and everyone was dead from decompression but I was yet to notice. I always knew my 40 year diet of cheeseburgers and soft drinks would turn me into some sort of science experiment that would render me invincible.
Landing in Sydney, thankfully safely, reminded me of the rich culture and diversity I’d been missing in Perth. There was the vacant stares of fellow travellers passing each other up and down the passenger bridges at the terminal, the early morning coffee induced zombi businessmen, and my personal favourite, the woman wearing the gold leaf puffy jacket and spandex straight from a 1980′s Dire Straights video.
Mr Vettas’ Subaru was a welcome sight and we spent no time doing what most greeting snappers do – finding the nearest coffee shop and talking cameras for the next two hours!
Making the most of my Canon Professional Services membership we headed across to Sun Studios to pick up some loan gear for the coming rally. When Rick emerged from the storage room with a Canon 1DX, 300mm L 2.8 (the new light-as-a-feather-version) and the 70-200 2.8L it was similar to the scene from Raiders of the Lost Ark where there was a religiously bright light appearing and angels singing. Albeit without the skin melting aftermath. Those pesky Nazis.
Next it was off to Honda to collect our media car. A spankingly neat CR-V CT-I VIP R2D2 CCVT…or something or other. Anyway it’s quite pretty and will be a nice ride down to Canberra tomorrow.
Fast forward a bit and I’ve had a little nap and a sandwich and looking forward to stage two of my February adventure. Oh and I met Michael and Brenda’s cat. He’s an old ginger named Tigger. I like Gingers. Here’s his picture. I’d like to put him in my pocket and keep him.
I’ve been watching a lot of James Bond films lately so I’m starting to worry that the Cranksters are becoming a lot like JB’s nemisis SPECTRE. A group of secretive blokes conspiring to take over the world. Perhaps Flames is their leader Blofeld? It’s the quiet ones you have to watch, and I can more picture him sitting in a big rotating chair stroking a long-haired Chinchilla than the others (no need for pussy jokes here, we have enough already.)
Anyway, tonight was the third annual Hot Summer Nights. It all went very smoothly and no-one was held hostage on an island or in any space stations. No nuclear devices were set off and all lasers were set to the ‘off’ position. Perth you may sleep soundly tonight.
Having missed the first two HSN’s from being interstate on shoots I was glad to finally have attended this one. Although I wish I had my kombi here to park up. I do miss that bus and by the time it’s ready to go cruising in a few months everyone else will have tucked theirs away for the winter. Not to worry though, there’s always next year.
My mum always told me to learn something new every day. Today I learnt that the rockabilly scene has the most beautiful women in Perth. They were everywhere, all dressed like dreams from a 1950′s fashion catalog. So with that in mind I’m investing in some better shoes and a few jars of Brylcreem. I just have to look up the opening hours of The Mustang Bar and watch out ladies, I’m a rockabilly rebel. The best news is that I don’t have to trade in my VW for an American hotrod; James Dean‘s Spyder was air-cooled you know.
A few preview photos below, for the rest keep an eye out for a future edition of Cruizin Magazine.
Email me on email@example.com if you want a larger copy.
We had a bit of a road trip heading from Perth four hours south to Albany to collect John’s first Kombi. John’s a great local photographer and volunteer at Perth Motorplex for their drag racing events. He’s a cool long haired hippy and the universe has been out of alignment until the recent purchase. VW‘s are a bit like pets, they seem to find us, not the other way around.
We travelled to Lee’s place in Albany where we got to check out his man cave of Imperials and Cadillac, bikes and bits. As he says “cool is as cool does” :)
We picked up the beast, got an early night and headed on the haul back to Perth. As all dubbers know, it’s the trip that’s the adventure and John’s first experience (kind of a rite of passage) was lined up pretty quickly where only 45 mins from home Ratticus threw a fan belt. No phone coverage, no spare, and now a lovely pair of cooked tappet cover gaskets and the quick trip home turned into double the time and a tow truck ride for Johns VW.
All’s well now and Ratticus is on the mend. John’s purchased his essential survival tools and a copy of John Muir’s ‘How to Keep a Volkswagen Alive’ bible. He’s got some cool ides for the future and I’m sure he’ll get many years of cruising and travels from his new air-cooled buddy.
- Report: VW ending Kombi production after 63-year run (autoblog.com)
- 60 Years of the VW Camper Van: Part 1 – The birth of an icon (wildaboutscotland.com)
- How Volkswagen Names Cars In China Will Screw With Your Mind (jalopnik.com)
- Day of the VW (brianwhite.com.au)
- Kombi Photo Stamp project ideas (rachelgreig.typepad.com)
Saturday was hot..really hot. Not ‘surface of the sun’ kind of Western Australian hot, but a nice sweaty humid ‘the more I walk the greasier my ballbags’ kind of hot.
Our intrepid No H2O leader Simon/Humpty had flown across from Perth to attend the days racing so I picked him up from his hotel carpark full of early morning drunks and crack whores, and we proceeded to get totally lost on the way to the track. Well I should say it was me who got lost, and I have no excuse as the hotel was next to the track. My job was to go from Point A to Point B and back to Point A again and I managed to screw that up. So after a good 45 minutes of driving in circles I gave up my rights as a man and resorted to using electronic devices to find our way back.
The WSID carpark was pretty full of every type of vw. bugs, splits, notches, water coolers, the works. It was a pretty awesome turnout and some serious machinery and money spent. It was nice to be able to relax and grab some photos and video of the day and not be pushed to publishers deadlines or shot lists for a change.The only thing missing was a couple of cold beers.
There’s a whole photo album of images here and also a pretty dodgy video I threw together on YouTube located here.
Racing was interesting. The WSID people were certainly a lot more straight and narrow than their Western counterparts at Motorplex. One explained that the strictness co-incides with the amount of people looking for an excuse for a lawsuit on the east coast as compared to the west. The venue brought out more photographers than competitors as well. Where were they all for the Victorian and Queensland rounds? Sydney lacks a sense of friendliness there. The competitive natures and the lack of a simple g’day to strangers goes against the entire philosophy of vw ownership. It didn’t sit right with me so I was kind of glad to leave.
I packed up from the hotel mid afternoon and my next stop was Bathurst, about three hours up through the Blue Mountains. The Kombi made mince meat of the hills, being light and with an average size motor. It’s a great drive up there despite the roadworks and procession of caravans. It’s a windy drive but reasonably scenic in spots with some great old stone buildings and open plains leading out to giant rugged clifftops. My destination was Rocklea to crash at a mate’s place and meet up with our other Circlework photographer, Jeff, who had been in town a couple of days already. I’d forgotten that Rocklea had zero phone reception unless by satellite so it was interesting to just relax for a couple of drinks at the local pub and not be tempted by phone calls, internet or facebook updates.
We had a pretty early night as we’d planned a 4am start to drive back to Mount Panorama for the Bathurst 12 Hour production race on Sunday…