So if I back track a few days, a gentleman called Keith was volunteered by his son Nick to transport the ‘Trinity’ (Bobby Dazzler, Dexter and me) across the Burdekin River in what is now known as the epic “Bridge Crossing”.
Keith’s generous nature prompted him to offer us accommodation at his home that night and I do wonder now if he wishes he’d just waved us goodbye on the northern side of the bridge.
After a delicious lunch and much needed coffee at Nick’s Chill Parlour and Cafe in Ayr (remember Nick? He volunteered his dad’s trailer and assistance!) I set off to walk the seven kilometres to the Home of Keith and Sue. On arrival Keith’s mechanical mind examined the buggy and decided that in it’s current state it would not get me across the harsher more remote parts of this vast country and offered to put dirt bike or possibly small car wheels on and I happily accepted as you are all aware of the number of wheels, tyres and tubes we have chewed through already.
The next day Keith broached the subject of not just fixing the Buggy, but making a new one. He wanted to know if I was willing to wait the time it would take.
Indeed I am I replied.
Sue said that Keith had been awake most of the night with ideas rolling around in his head, and Keith said (and I paraphrase here because my memory sucks) “I feel that if you have the heart to make this journey then I would like to be sure your equipment is strong and reliable to get you around”.
As the Bobby Dazzler was the wonderful product of many generous people giving their time and effort to make repairs and changes along the way Keith felt that there there was already a lot of redundant weight and any more changes would be makeshift at best.
So Bobby Dazzler Mach II came into being. A little narrower than the first as I retold of the times I’d had to backtrack on coming to the end of a walk way that had narrow barriers, and the times I’d had to manhandle the buggy to get through barriers and ramps and things.
A little, longer just to incorporate a bit more usable space as the BD had been all nooks and crannies and angles.
Work began with Keith and two of his employees, Nico and Les, getting stuck straight in and making things happen.
An old bike was acquired from the wreckers, and some wheels were located and donated to the cause and these, along with some metal Keith had in his shed and pieces he had to purchase new were all pieced together and the basic frame was created.
I mentioned Keith’s shed but it’s not a shed in the conventional sense. It’s a shed if Mt Everest is a hill. I’ve walked it’s length and breadth and seen barely half of it’s contents, and twice I’ve been lost. I would still be ‘missing’ if not for Dexter’s keen sense of direction (and his desire to go back outside and herd the chickens).
So you get the picture I’m painting of the size of the shed. Even it’s size did not diminish the imposing figure that the new ‘Buggy” presented when I saw it all framed up the next day. Jebus!! I said to myself…it’s not a buggy, it’s a behemouth! And ugly! Ugly as seven witches my dad would have said.
When asked what I thought I said “It sure wont be getting flat tyres or broken wheels” and smiled a very shaky smile. My internal dialogue was something like “ohmyGod I’m-going-to need-a-pack-of-sled-dogs to-pull-it ohmyGod whathaveIdone ohmyohmyohmy at least if I reach exhaustion from pushing it’s big enough to sleep in ohmyGod the-police-will-make-me-register-it-as-a-road-vehicle… followed by a slightly crazed laugh and… bet those truckers won’t call it a shopping trolley now!!
The next few days passed in a blur of emotions, and, as I watched Bobby’s handlebars get sawn off and his canopy frame cut down, finally acceptance that this walk may be a whole lot longer than initially planned as my daily distance may well dwindle to four or five kilometres a day. And why are there a couple of hundred coffins stacked up way back in the shed. And what is the strange compulsion I feel to try one on for size?
Today the last of the welding was done, and I coated it with a rust converter in preparation for priming and painting it tomorrow. Dispite wearing gloves my hands turned black, and as Dexter had rolled in chook poo (he scared that poo out of those chooks so he considered it his poo) I decided to take him into the shower with me for a clean. My hands remain black but Dexter is his usual sweet-smelling white-furred chicken-wrangling self, sleeping at my feet.
After our shower I played around with packing the new vehicle, fitting the adapted cover on, trying things out for size and slowly the fear and trepidation slipped away, to be replaced by renewed excitement and optimism. The new vehicle is actually only half a wheel longer and the roof over my head a lttle longer than that again. It is indeed bigger, perhaps a bit heavier but it is strong and it should well make the distance. I have no firm timeframe for this journey. I may well appear in the Guiness Book of records as the slowest lap around Australia, but oh the adventures that lie ahead for us. How can I not be excited.
If the Bobby Dazzler was a VW Beetle then his upgraded version is a Hummer.
I shall call him Hummdinger!