Learning to drive is a pretty big milestone in life, and even though it put me behind the 8 ball with traffic lights, and well, traffic in general, I count my lucky stars that I got to learn the tricks of the driving trade in a country town.
Tieri, beloved town of my youth, is not only connected across town by actual, bitumen roads, it is also joined by a series of back, dirt roads.
A dirt super highway buzzing with motorbikes, joggers, stray dogs and bush bashers. Affectionately known as, The Fire Break.
The town planner must have loved motorbikes. And kids. And hated bushfires.*
My wonderful mother bought my middle sister and me a bush basher when I was learning to drive.
She was beautiful (both my mother and the car). A 1970 something yellow Cortina that we lovingly christened Mellow.
I guess at this point I should explain the term Bush Basher for the uninitiated. A Bush Basher is any old car, be it a sedan, Ute, 4wd, 2wd, doesn’t matter. If it’s crappy and old, most times unregistered, you use it to cut scrub, and love it despite all its faults, it’s a bush basher.
I spent hours behind Mellows hot, leathery wheel on that Fire Break.
Legs sweating away on the linty old seat covers, happily sucking in dust from the open windows (ears, eyes and nostrils full of it), flicking spiders out the doors and mastering 3 point turns and handbreakies**.
$10 of fuel would last an eternity, and with a car full of mates to chip in, there was plenty left for $5 worth of golden fried chips with chicken salt and gravy at the end of the day.
There were heaps of kids in town who had bush bashers, all with various names and of various shapes and sizes. Henry the station wagon was one from my big sisters learning to drive days, Val the Magna and Gemmy the Gemini were others from mine.
We all learnt how to drive on the Fire Break. And we all learnt how not to drive on the Fire Break.
Before I actually got my license, I had driven, stalled, bunny hopped and been bogged in Holdens, Fords, Geminis, Magnas and Toyotas, and every one of them was driven on the Fire Breaks of Tieri.
No one was ever hurt, though I can’t say it was never close. And we were all so lucky, to have so very many teachers in each other.
Parents, boyfriends, best friends, sisters and people too drunk to drive all taught me valuable lessons.
My girls are already confident behind the wheel, and though we have no firebreaks to teach them on here, we go bush enough that they are always given the opportunity to learn the basics, and beyond.
It’s certainly no Fire Break, and at times they have their turn cut short due to pig sightings, but it’s still a pretty sweet way to learn.
And it’s great that we have the major influence over them, before they go getting all teenage-y and listening to their mates more. Or worse, having their boyfriends teach them.
And yes I realise that clock is ticking away fast with G1.
Time is flying.
Like a Yellow Cortina full of kids down a back dirt road.
Note to any boys that give my girls lessons in their driving futures-Trying to hold a girl’s hand while she’s nervously trying to change gears is NEVER a good idea, and can only end badly.
So will holding their hand at all for that matter. Got it?
Now put your seatbelt on. And hang on.
*In its 30 year history Tieri has never been bothered by a bushfire! Those firebreaks rock.
**He he, handbreakies. Such fun! Actually I had to wait until my second car to master this. Mellow didn’t have a functioning handbreak.