Travel tales to tell
Bob’s adventures abroad were full of fun and danger
HITCHHIKING from Iraq to Iran with a busload of people who were being deported is just one of the crazy adventures Bob Schutt had in the ’60s he probably wouldn’t try these days.
As a 24-year old, the boy from Footscray bought a 152-pound fare to board the Fair Star for its maiden voyage to England.
“There was no scurvy, just terrible hangovers,” Mr Schutt said about the six-week trip.
However, it was in Spain Mr Schutt made his greatest connection.
In a “crazy youth hostel” in the seaside town of Alicante he lived for 10c a night for about six months.
“It was notorious; the council tried hard to shut it because it was obvious it was breaking regulations over the number of people living in a room,” he said.
“The thing was, they had to measure the floor space of each room, but they did not have permission to come inside the building.
“So they just walked around the outside of the building with all of their tape measures, trying to work out the layout – it was like a scene from Catch-22!”
The scene stuck with many of the backpackers, and once the bureaucrats succeeded in shutting down their original digs, they wrote to Joseph Heller, author of the classic novel Catch-22, and asked permission to use the name.
“He wrote back and said ‘Go for it!’ so we named a new hostel Catch 22,” he said.
With a intention to score seismic surveying work in north Africa, Mr Schutt left the European party haze.
But upon arriving in Algiers, it was the movie-making world that came calling.
“I played a paratrooper in La Battelle Algie. It was a French film and we ended up winning an award at the Venice film festival,” he said.
After leaving the African city, Mr Schutt kept moving, stretching his money though Tripoli, Kuwait, Pakistan, Iraq, Iran, India, Sri Lanka and Nepal.
“I sold blood in Kuwait and got about $30 for that,” he laughed.
Despite the hairy situations Bob found himself in at times, he always kept his cool.
In Iran, when a machine-gun-carrying soldier climbed into a back seat beside him, Mr Schutt said he just smiled, stepped out of the car and “ran like hell!”.
“I had a theory: if you smile they won’t shoot you.”
Mr Schutt said despite his taste for adventure, there was no way he would hitchhike through Asia and the Middle East these days.
He rode home on a ship from Colombo in Sri Lanka to Fremantle in Perth after two years abroad.
He has enjoyed a more relaxed life on his Monto farm since.
RAMBLER: Bob Schutt rests after arriving in Afghanistan.
GREAT ADVENTURE: Bob Schutt boards a bus in Afghanistan during his round-the-world adventure.