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

By Paul Martin – Liberties Press, Dublin

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!

What a load of Cobblers – Books about Australia

What’s so fascinating about Australia then?!

It cuts like a knife

It’s a blood sport, mate!

Australia’s Stolen Children – once again

Irish women – the making of Australia!

The price of cabbage….

Then and now: the tyranny of distance or the 3 year rule?

Wallabies – more than just a rugby team!

Ludwig Leichhardt – the Bertha connection!

Another Iron Lady – meeting Margaret Thatcher

If you’re passing by Mataranka, NT..

Macquarie – more than just a bank


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