The Moke and the Terrier left Sydney on a Scan Austral ship, bound for Copenhagen.
Naturally, with Hans Tholstrup's family connections, one of his uncles knew the Wilhelmson family from Norway, owners of Scan Austral.
Once unloaded the Terrier went off to Denmark's largest Leyland truck dealer, Nellemann, for a 'health check'.
|Gavno - 1850|
That night we stayed in yet another family manor, Kjaerstrup House. When we awoke at 4am to catch the ferry to Europe from Rodby, I found a note Hans' uncle had left on my door reminding me to remember to take a huge basket of food that his kitchen staff had prepared for our trip.
Hans and I took the Moke to a specialist BMC tuner in Leicester, Blazespeed, whilst the Terrier crew took the truck to the Coca Cola HQ in Isleworth on the western outskirts of London, to prepare and pack the spare parts, the luggage, food and supplies.
After all that, the guys could not resist a trip around London, and a quick flash past Buck House!
After the Rally start in London, the competitors drove en masse to assemble at the ferry port at Sheerness, for the overnight trip to Vlissingen. Needless to say Hans' connections meant that he and I slept in the Captain's cabin, whilst he was busy on the bridge.
At Vlissingen Big Mama emerged from the ferry for the first leg to Madurodam, and then on to Paris, where we arrived on a very foggy morning in the French capital.
From that point, the Moke was running well ahead of the Terrier, denying me opportunities for photos, but we caught up to Big Mama in what was then Yugoslavia (below), and probably the scariest moment of the event for our team.
After midnight, and the ascent from Kotor, on the coast of Montenegro to the capital, Cetinjie, we approached a suspension bridge over a deep ravine.
A sign displayed the load limit for the bridge which the truck easily exceeded, but the truck's team leader, Allen Hausler, decided to ignore it and followed the Moke across the bridge.
As the truck arrived on the opposite side, four men stepped out of the darkness. Two in uniform, and two dressed in trenchcoats, wearing hats, symbolic of Yugoslavia's secret police.
They stopped both vehicles, demanded our passports, and literally dragged Hausler from the Terrier cab, and proceeded to beat the hell out of him, and then Barry Allen.
Hans speaks fluent German and demanded to know the reason for the beating, and they replied that they were teaching the truck crew a lesson for ignoring the sign. Once the Secret Police recognized that one of our party probably understood the local language, they threw all our passports on the ground, got into their car and drove off. We cleaned up the bloodied Hausler and Allen and proceeded to Skopje, and on to Athens.
This next shot, taken in Iran, is a photo of the Moke following a carload of Savak (the Shah's Secret Police), which shadowed both the truck and the Moke from our entry into the country, right up until we checked in to our hotel in Tehran.
From Iran, we entered Afghanistan via the city of Herat, and the Moke is following Big Mama across the baking, featureless desert on Afghanistan's only continuously-paved road, passing through Kandahar until we reached our hotel in Kabul.
From Kabul we climbed the Khyber Pass and entered India, from Pakistan, at Amritsar, from where the route took us to Bombay and then Chennai (top) - where the vehicles were loaded aboard two freighters for the sea journey to Penang (bottom) in Malaysia.
The trip from Penang to Singapore was completed in an overnight transport stage, but included a publicity stop at the Palace of Perak, home of the Sultan of Perak, one of Malaysia's wealthiest sultans, and owner of the vast Taiping Plantation.
The Sultan and his 21 year old son were complete car buffs, and demanded that the MMSC set up a 'Control Point' in the palace grounds.
From Singapore the rally vehicles were loaded onto a freighter and shipped to Perth to begin the final leg of the event.
We rarely got to see the Terrier on the Australian section, apart from a fleeting moment as it powered past us whilst we were searching for petrol pumps on an aboriginal reserve.
Finally, the finish line at the Sydney Opera House and the end of a gruelling, but thoroughly adventurous time in the lives of all of the crew.
It's great to have participated in the last great overland car rally, and I admire the entreprenurial tenacity, the dogged determination, and the sheer chutzpah of the Rally organiser, Wylton Dickson, and his willing accomplice, Ken Tubman.
I remained close friends with Wylton and Ken until they sadly passed away, and will always remain grateful that Hans Tholstrup asked me to join him on such a fabulous trip.
|The crew - (L-R) JC, Hans, Barry Allen, Allen Hausler and Doug Francis|
Great thanks JC - would that be Bill Powell ex Leyland in the penultimate photo by the Terrier?ReplyDelete
Thanks so much for your blog and especially sharing such special events such as this. Feel free to share more photos and stories as your time permits.ReplyDelete