In his father’s wheel tracks
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.