It wasn't often that my family went on holidays when I was growing up. There wasn't much money, and the old cars we owned were usually in such a state of disrepair. However, in 1972 when I was about eight, our parents took us on an amazing road trip out to Western NSW -
Orange, Dubbo, and Cobar - to experience life on a sheep station.
Taking four young girls to country NSW may not seem like a very
remarkable holiday by today's standards, but what made it extraordinary was the vehicle we travelled in. We didn't own a roadworthy car that could comfortably fit our whole family, so when a family friend found out about our proposed excursion, she generously offered one of her cars. Her 'spare' car just happened to be a 193Os Rolls-Royce,
Phantom II, affectionately known as 'Mona' by her family because the brakes had a tendency to moan.
We decided to call her 'Phantom' instead and she was more suited to an English manor than to the dusty Australian outback, but she was extremely comfortable and my sisters and I felt like princesses (though we probably looked a bit like the Beverly Hillbillies) as we drove through towns. I loved the stares we attracted as we pulled up outside pubs, and I remember waving regally from the back seat, lapping up attention from passers-by.
Phantom had no seat belts so we were able to spread out and play games as we travelled . We loved the fold-away picnic tables, hidden cabinets and the roll down window separating us from our parents in the front seat. It's something I have often wished I had in my car today!
Organization and time management were not attributes my parents were known for. I remember arriving so late at a hotel in Dubbo that everything was shut and all we had to eat for dinner were chocolate biscuit s. When we arrived in Cobar we bunked in the shearers' quarters. They were very basic and, in the evenings, the rooms used to fill up with a diverse congregation of bugs and creepy crawlies. I don't think my older sister ever really recovered.
During the day, we roamed the property collecting fossils and extracting geckos off rocks, claiming them as our pets. We loved to watch the sheep being sheared and at night we marveled at the starry sky and discussed the wonders of the universe.
It's clear to me that this adventure was probably the most significant family holiday of my childhood. And it's amazing to think that it may never have happened without that simple act of kindness from a friend . - Anna Gregg