Driv­e­time for Faine

A six-month sab­bat­i­cal means a once-in-a-life­time jour­ney for Jon Faine

Herald Sun - Switched On - - Guide - GREG THOM

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.

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