In his fa­ther’s wheel tracks

The Weekend Post - Motoring - - Front Page -

IN 1966 rally driver, motoring jour­nal­ist and nov­el­ist Evan Green wrote a book en­ti­tled Jour­neys with Gelig­nite Jack, an ac­count of his ground­break­ing jour­ney through Aus­tralia in a clas­sic Mini.

Now in 2009, jour­nal­ist Gavin Green has re­traced his fa­ther’s tyre tracks in a new Mini Cooper, en­coun­ter­ing some of the world’s most hos­tile driv­ing ter­rain.

Evan Green was the first man in his­tory to drive across Aus­tralia from east to west through its cen­tre. Not con­tent with that jour­ney, he then pro­ceeded to do a north-south cross­ing straight af­ter.

Ve­hi­cle lu­bri­cants man­u­fac­turer Cas­trol ap­proached Evan in 1965 with the idea for the unique trip, which it would then use to raise aware­ness of its new Cas­trol GTX prod­uct. Evan was in­spired and his re­mark­able ‘fig­ure of eight’ route even­tu­ally to­talled nearly 20,000km, equiv­a­lent to half way around the world. Sup­port­ing the Mini was an Austin 1800 and, on the rough­est West­ern Aus­tralian sec­tions, a Land Rover.

Gavin Green’s east-west jour­ney in April this year, com­mis­sioned by Bri­tish Air­ways in­flight mag­a­zine High Life to cel­e­brate the MINI’s 50th an­niver­sary, fol­lowed 80 per cent of the same roads and tracks used by his fa­ther, driv­ing from Syd­ney to Perth via Alice Springs.

The gru­elling drive was un­der­taken in a vir­tu­ally un­mod­i­fied Mini Cooper. Cov­er­ing 6608km in 10 days, Gavin passed through Bourke, Bar­cal­dine, Bou­lia, Alice Springs and Laver­ton, be­fore arriving in Perth. De­spite the on­go­ing in­credulity of lo­cals at var­i­ous points along the way, Gavin and his crew con­tin­ued un­per­turbed and the Cooper un­fail­ingly stood up to the harsh con­di­tions thrown at it when driv­ing through the deserts.

“I wanted to give a dif­fer­ent per­spec­tive on MINI in its 50th an­niver­sary year and my fa­ther’s jour­ney in 1966 has long been some­thing I’ve wanted to pay homage to,” Mr Green said.

“It was an emo­tional ex­pe­ri­ence be­cause cross­ing Aus­tralia in this way meant we had the op­por­tu­nity to wit­ness some awe-in­spir­ing lo­ca­tions and peo­ple.”

Road jour­ney: Jour­nal­ist Gavin Green, pho­tog­ra­pher Mark Bramley and BMW tech­ni­cian Dar­ryl Cook with the Mini Cooper which trav­elled 6600km through­out Aus­tralia.

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