Travels with Bertha – Australia

Travels with Bertha: Two years exploring Australia in a 1978 Ford Falcon stationwagon

By Paul Martin – Liberties Press, Dublin

Liberties Press

Amazon UK

Amazon Italia

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.

Bertha at the Devils Marbles, Northern Territory

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.

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!

Italian Secrets: An Family War Story and An Outsider’s Eye on Today’s Italy

Due to be published in 2019

“Behind the turbulent and picturesque agitation of Italy, behind the amiable, festive, and touching spectacle, behind the skillful performances, real life is something else. It is this feeling of being trapped within the inflexible limits of national inclinations which gives Italian life, under the brilliant and vivacious surface, its fundamentally bitter, disenchanted, melancholic quality”

Luigi Barzini – The Italians (1964)

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