If you’re passing by Mataranka, NT..

Bertha, outside flat in Leichhardt, before leaving for Queensland

Besides Australia itself (and possibly a certain backpacker from Yorkshire), the star of TWB is Bertha herself – my beloved 1978, 2 litre, white automatic Ford Falcon Stationwagon (reg:  SHM 359) who brought me everywhere in Australia (and I mean everywhere) despite all the neglect and abuse she suffered. She bore me along every main highway and on hundreds of kilometres of unsealed (dirt track) roads through every State and Territory excluding Tasmania on the continent.

The numbers tell it all:

  • 30,000 kms travelled
  • 13 Punctures (including one blow-out sending us swerving off the road)
  • 2 Breakdowns
  • 2 Tyres deflated by kindly locals
  • 2 Wallabies struck (one subsequently killed to be put out of its misery)
  • 1 Roadtrain tyre driven over (destroying an exhaust)
  • 21 Passengers (from 13 countries) picked up

And her final resting place? In a large, desert forecourt – a veritable Elephants’ Graveyard of 20, 30 and even 40 year old sedans and stationwagons – in the tiny town of Mataranka, Northern Territories.

Mataranka, Northern Territories

So if you’re passing by Willie’s garage in Mataranka will you call in and say hello. You might even take a photo and send it to me. She deserves so much more….and I do miss her!

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