Australia - God's country , The land of milk and honey . A truly lucky place to find yourself as a surfer with a bit of time on your hands and a few dollars in your pocket . Waves everywhere , waves from arsehole to breakfast as the saying goes. You've just got to get out there and find them .
And what better or more pragmatic way of chasing down those perfect peelers than the classic Aussie road trip ? The joy is surely in the journey as much as the destination and in a land of sweeping plains there's a shedload of good times and adventure to be had in the days traversing from A to B. Remember though that you will not be alone on the highways and byways. Even when there's no one in sight and the sheer space and emptiness can become oppressive , rest assured that a litany of fellow Tar Dogs are out there also and it's with them that you'll cross paths time and time again as you clock up those long hours behind the wheel.
You'll come to know these characters. If you've never buckled a seatbelt with intent or never loaded a boot in anger before , here's a short list of the apex predators to be found out there on those black tarmac ribbons of liberation -
1 / Grey Nomad ( benign ) - AKA Harold and Doreen ( UHF Channel 18 )
Perpetually happy , Harold And Doreen will be recognisable by the " Dunrootin' " graphic printed on the rear of the roof top camper slung on the back of their Nissan Nirvara. They've been on the road for years - it's their third lap - and their only plans are to stay warm in winter , cool in summer and see the grandkids back at Avoca every Christmas .
In the meantime they've unwittingly become state sponsored emissaries of goodwill . Speading happiness , practical advice and unsolicited freshly baked scones with cream as they journey from free campsite to free campsite. Always there to help out a fellow traveller - Harold , a very handy bloke ,will always be able to provide tools and advice necessary to rectify any mild mechanical problems and Doreen will never fail to allay the feelings of homesickness which many travellers suffer from with her unrelenting mothering of all that she meets.
Signature move : Five o'clock drinkies with nibblies.
Recommended strategy if encountered : Embrace the welcome.
Tar Dog rating : 9 / 10
2/ Grey Nomad ( Malign ) - AKA Wayne and Barbara ( Report to camp supervisor )
Recently retired from suburban Victoria , Wayne and Barbara are on their first and only lap of this great land. Unaccustomed to each other's company after a life of working hour separation , they have discovered a genuine distaste for their marriage and even their $250,000 motor home that is larger than many 3rd world villages is proving far too small a space in which to coexist.
Wayne can often be found sneering at newcomers in his role as self appointed camp supervisor in remote camping locations. Constant admonishments for minor parking infringements , inappropriate noise or general lifestyle choices seems to be his reason for waking each morning. Wayne himself appears to have no purpose to be on the trip except perhaps that of washing his RV thrice daily in areas of limited water supply or to belittle others in their selection of vehicle or camping supplies.
Barbara chooses to employ more an air of constant disapproval towards everyone and everything she encounters. Nothing was ever like this back in Melbourne . The weather is too hot / cold , the landscape looks messy and the locals are lazy.
Despite Wayne's Bluff attitude and his attire of khaki shirt and shorts accessorised with a belt born pocket knife , he is very much a creature of the suburbs and the open spaces and silence threaten him . So much so that he will never camp alone . Without fail he will unhesitatingly crowd any travellers that may have found a pleasantly remote spot to spend the night , his unacknowledged fear rendering him oblivious to any awkwardness or unwelcoming actions.
Just as the recently intruded upon travellers are grimfully accepting Wayne and Barbara's presence and recommencing appreciating the silence and the stars above them , Wayne will position and start his portable generator within feet of the travellers camp. The generator powering the bank of high powered lights and the satellite TV that will blare reality programs well into the night.
Signature move : 70 kms / hour on Australia's main arterial route , accelerating to 100kms/ hour in overtaking zones lest anyone dream of passing.
Recommended strategy if encountered : Generous positioning of desert roses * around campsite.
Tar Dog rating : 6 / 10
* Desert rose - wads of toilet paper half buried around remote campsite simulating poor toilet habits in order to ward off intruding campers.
3 / Euro trash on parade - Jaques and Marie ( Kleptoparasiticus Gaulios )
Mid way through a global adventure and these upper middle class pseudo Bohemes have found themselves in Australia. A generic backpacker van and information gleamed from dozens of hostels around the world sees them wandering the coast with an aim to witness the sights , consolidate their recently acquired surfing skills and have minimal impact on their travel fund in the process by allowing the host nation to subsidise their lifestyle.
Marie and Jaques aren't necessarily bad people , it's just that their desire to extend their time abroad will see them blur the line between acceptable and unacceptable behaviour. Coupled with a particularly French distain for local culture and it's not too long in country before theyre eating from homeless shelters or helping themselves gratis to honour system fruit stalls.
Beachside car parks are there to be colonised and dirtied without compunction. If the local ranger is too efficient they will be driven to nearby suburban backsteets where homeowners can often find them " borrowing "any such items that may take their fancy.
Often found attempting to sell homemade items on street corners in a laudable attempt at self dependence. Not so laudable when the same attempts compete with bread line existence locals in 3rd world countries.
Signature move : Present the single bottle of water through the checkout with toothpaste , snickers and razors stowed in the undies.
Recommended strategy if encountered : Keep an eye on your fuel cap.
Tar Dog rating : 3 / 10
4 / Terry Trucky AKA The Professional ( If you can't see my mirrors , I can't see you )
Terry is the pilot of an eighteen wheeled road train , Criss crossing the nation's highways day and night for love and money . It's in his blood to drive and no amount of domestic disharmony , putrid roadhouse fare or impacted bowls from hours in a sitting position can unmake him from that which he was born to be.
Some despise Terry for his bullying ways as he bears down on them from behind during night runs with his looming truck grill filling the rear view mirror and his 3 million candle power headlights reducing them to skeletal x ray images. But it behooves those with long distance travelling on their mind to embrace this knight of the open road.
A road train will provide a buffeting slipstream in which a vehicle can cruise with greatly reduced fuel consumption or create a necessary bow wake in which to follow allowing for the traversing of otherwise impassable flooded roads. Terry's headlights can be used for good , rather than evil as a following traveller can rest easy as they turn night into day and Terry's invincible bull bar and massive bulk reduces any potential night time animal hazards into so much inconsequential meat and blood .
The true measure of Terry's worth comes when you experience him in his spiritual home - the remote roadhouse. If you're brave enough to engage him , his gruff demeaner will fade and he'll regale you with inspiring road song tales of the bizarre sexual proclivities of past roadhouse managers , recommended foods from the paucity of the mixed grill , cheapest fuel options en route and historical anecdotes concerning the stretch of highway your sharing such as the time he had to burl off-road into the scrub to avoid a hurtling piece of Earthbound debris from the ruined satellite Skylab.
Signature move : Tyre pressure check with a tyre iron in one hand and his 3rd iced coffee flavoured milk in the other.
Recommended strategy if encountered : Let him pass then sit back and watch him weave his spell across the land.
Tar Dog rating : 8.5 / 10
5/ Old Gerry the trudger AKA A fortunate life
Gerry ain't hitchhiking. Although you'd assume he would be , cause he's in the middle of nowhere - no habitation for 30 kms in either direction . So you'll drive past , consider his limping gait and distance from anything resembling a dwelling , then back up and offer him a lift. Which he'll gratefully , though not desperately accept.
Old Gerry lives out this way , though you haven't seen a house nor driveway in some time . Gerry is on his way to town for a beer or two. Maybe more. Seems he had a bit of trouble last night. Crashed his car . Again . Without a licence. The coppers came , they weren't happy and they told Gerry that this time there's not much they could do for him and he might be going away for a bit.
Gerry reckons he might make himself scarce for a while . He's seen your plates - Gerry might not fire his words out , but he ain't stupid - and asks about the Kimberly. Sounds good . Got some family in the Kimberly.
You don't ask how he intends to get there with no car and the Kimberly being roughly 5000 kms away . Gerry doesn't seem to care so neither should you.
Gerry is a very soothing companion . His voice and manner sits you in your seat a little lower and your hands relax on the wheel. Arriving in town and Gerry gets you to drop him at the Bowlo - he's barred from the pub and the RSL - and thanks you for the lift. You wish him luck.
Signature move : He'd offer you a smoke but he hasn't got any.
Recommended strategy if encountered : Enjoy the ride
Here I sit with a broken heart
Took my drugs and my truck won't start
- Seen on the wall of the shithouse , Overlander roadhouse WA.
That was good read blow in - your own work?
Though the dunny graffiti is a modernised version of the oldy
Here I sit broken hearted
Payed my penny and only farted
Geez, Blowin, stereotyping again.
Nice one Blowin.
I do miss living out of a van and traveling up and down the coast for weeks to months.
Nice Blowin...spot on too...I know all of those characters...my Mum and her hubby are textbook benign grey nomad...she's visiting next week and rest assured the nibblies and drinkies will be proffered -albeit slightly earlier than your designated 5pm.
Embrace ya fam bro
classic read. Just spent a couple of days on the road and ran into Harold and Doreen , got the full run down on their new generator. The good thing about grey nomads is they tend to only travel between 10am and 2pm. I have noticed in recent years though the old beer gutted, Slim Dusty playing , blue singlet wearing Kings of the Road are being replaced by more youthful, clean shaven, fitter, high vis adorned gear jockeys. Glad they're speed limited now , I remember the days of being overtaken doing 120kph by coaches and trucks doing up to 160kph on some sketchy bits of tarmac .On the old highways overtaking opportunities were a lot more limited than these days , and there used to be some pretty intense bullying by larger vehicles that were in a hurry.