Drivetime for Faine
A six-month sabbatical means a once-in-a-lifetime journey for Jon Faine
MOST Victorians who decide to take off for a driving holiday go no further afield than Queensland.
But ABC radio talkback host Jon Faine is filling the petrol tank and heading for London.
Fulfilling a life-long dream, he is taking a six-month sabbatical from the national broadcaster to tackle the mammoth overland trip with his son, Jack.
It was only after making the decision to go, however, that the enormity of their looming adventure truly hit home.
The pair’s travels will take them through some of the harshest terrain in the world through more than a dozen countries, including Malaysia, China, Turkey and France before ending in London in time for New Year’s Eve.
‘‘Organising the travel arrangements is enough to put your head into a very serious spin,’’ says Faine, describing the enormously complicated task of organising a trip that will take he and Jack across the globe.
‘‘If I knew when I started out what I know now, I may never have embarked on this.’’
That includes dealing with factors such as border crossings from Turkmenistan into Iran, which may or may not be open. Not to mention overcoming a Chinese bureaucracy resistant to allowing private cars into the country.
Then there are guarantees sought by Faine’s son, who is taking a gap year after completing his VCE, before agreeing to accompany his dad.
‘‘Jack thought about it for about a week and he came back and said, ‘There’s just one condition, Dad: I’m in charge of music’.’’
Despite surrendering control over his eardrums, Faine says he is looking forward to travelling with his son, who is a keen photographer.
‘‘If we don’t kill each other, yeah, it should be fantastic,’’ he says with a laugh.
Faine says he started seriously considering the trip a couple of years ago, after walking into ABC man- agement and telling them he had been approached with an attractive job offer.
Keen to keep him on air, they dangled the carrot of what effectively amounts to six months’ long-service leave, a rarity in Faine’s line of work.
Though suggestions he use the time to write a book or pursue further study were on the table, Faine seized the day and decided to get behind the wheel.
He not only plans to write a book about the experience and update a blog via laptop computer, he’ll also provide updates via phone for listeners along the way.
Given some of the remote locations he will be traversing, Faine says he can’t give any guarantees on when his dulcet tones will be heard.
They include the former Russian central Asian republics, such as Uzbekistan, Tajikistan and Kazakhstan.
‘‘We’re going to some places where not many people go. It’s sort of off the beaten track and that means I think there’s a fair bit of interest in what’s going on, what life’s like for people where we’re heading.
‘‘You can’t promise anything. You embark on this with the best of intentions, but until you’re actually there, you just don’t know.’’
Faine initially planned to do the trip with his wife until circumstances changed. She will instead meet them near the end of their incredible journey, in Paris.
Faine leaves on Sunday, June 29, only two days after finishing up on air. He can hardly wait.
‘‘It (the drive) was kind of like a long-held fantasy of mine ever since I was a backpacker. I have this clear memory of seeing a Victorian-registered Land Rover parked in London and I said to myself, ‘I’m going to do that one day’.
‘‘It’s a once-in-a-lifetime thing. To me, it’s terribly special.’’ Visit www.melbournetolondon.com
Fill her up:
Jon Faine and his son Jack head off on their excellent adventure on Sunday, June 29.