What do we do now …?
The Labour Day weekend had finally arrived.
I was young, impressionable and very much involved with my Church Youth Group. This involvement had led to me attending youth camps in many parts of my State, Victoria (Australia), and meeting many interesting people, from a vast number of backgrounds.
This weekend one of our Youth zones, the Wimmera-Mallee Zone, was holding its annual camp, a catchup for youth from far and wide. Many were eager to catch up with friends, others were on the lookout for a potential partner…
At the time, I was still living with my parents, without commitments and without a care. I had started my first job a year before, and had cash to spare.
My friend and I had planned this weekend many weeks before, and knew that attending the Camp meant a 6-hour drive from our homes in Box Hill in Melbourne’s suburbs to distant Nangiloc, near the rural town of Mildura in Victoria’s north-west.
The Monstrous Fairlane
I had arranged a rostered day off on the Friday, as I knew that we had a massive drive ahead of us, and headed to the home of my friend. Like me, he had already packed, and we jumped into the car he had recently bought, a dark brown 1973 Ford Fairlane, which some of our group of friends referred to as “The Beast”.
It puzzled some of us why he had updated his previous car, a Datsun 1600 with mag wheels, to something that would occupy the full width of some of Victoria’s back farm roads, forcing lesser, smaller cars to seek the sanctuary of their gravel edges.
Entering it was like experiencing the vehicle equivalent of a lord’s saloon, with plenty of room to stretch out, and a vast expanse between the front passenger and the distant driver.
We were soon on our way, and one of the first things I noticed about my friend’s new vehicle was that the engine was quite noisy. He let me know that he was having an issue with a hole in the exhaust pipe, directly below where we were sitting, and before the pipe entered the muffler. We hoped that it would not draw unwelcome attention from the Boys in Blue.
Soon we were cruising up the Calder Freeway, on our way to Bendigo, our first refueling…