The Life and Times of "Vinnie the Van"
11.04.2013 - 15.07.2013
A mode of transport? a trustee chariot? a house and home? a recreation ground? a sauna? a meditation centre? a marriage counsellor? a way of life? a friend? ................. It's hard to conjure up all the above happening at one time but that is what we got during our 3 and a half months ownership of Vinne the Van, a 1994 Toyota Townace, 2 litre petrol commercial van.
He was in need of some TLC when we came across him in Sydney at the beginning of April. His then owners, 2 Danish lads in their early twenties had somehow managed to neglect Vinnie, and his physical and mental condition was very poor. Somehow, even though Vinnie looked tired and mistreated, we saw beyond that and decided to rescue him and bring him back to good health and nurture him so that he could share joyous and wonderful memories with us as we travelled throughout Aussie. We bargained for the best price and when we reached the price where we were happy to hand over the readies we whisked him away to a "top spa" in Menai, on the outskirts of Sydney. We met with Trent and Teisha and while they plied us with TLC and shelter, so too Aine and I gave life saving treatment to Vinnie. A full medical was undertaken and after some minor surgery - new radiator and brake discs and pads - we gave him a make over which Gok Wan would be proud of.....
As we were winging it as we travelled we sometimes relied on Vinnie to lead us to our destination. Inevitably he always took us to a memorable spot. In total he carried us for 13,000 Kms. We had one or two scares with him as he ran a high temperature at Bruny Island in Tassie.
When his fever finally broke he was back to his normal cheerful self in no time and had us back on the road singing Skippy Skippy Skippy the bush Kangaroo..... His sound system had been severely affected in the war and his output was below par and when he lost reception in the outback Aine and I sang to him and even played a tune or two on the tin whistle to soothe him. I even managed to play a tune while I was driving while Aine steered the trused steed from the passenger seat.
There was no fear of me receiving a speeding fine as I had while in NZ. Vinnie was just not up to that. We more or less coaxed him along and masaged him to get every last bit of economy out of him. His appetite was ferocious and he drank every penny we put into him as though it was his last gasp. Still, we didn't mind, " a van is not just for Christmas, its for life" - or for the duration we were going to own him. He wanted for nothing throughout his short and fulfilling life with us.
We gave him another medical in Victor Harbor when we landed with Denis, Sarah, Georgia and Mikey. Thanks to my bro who took care of Vinnies needs and had him checked into the health spa. With the necessary pampering Vinnie was looking better and whats more he was sounding and feeling better in himself. It took a few years off him and Aine and I were grateful - thanks Denis. Georgia even managed to brave a night in Vinnie on her own. Having left Victor Harbor en route to Darwin Vinnie drove the best ever and was now singing and purring as we drove along. The red centre and the outback was a piece of cake to him and we arrived safely in Darwin with just one glitch. I managed to break one of the bearinggs on the slide door. This was unfortunate as the only part I could acquire was in Darwin, almost a week away. As the door could not be opened from the inside Aine had to climb in and out over the front seat to open the slide door from the outside. Not ideal if an emergency arose, but thankfully it didn't.
When we arrived in Darwin we advertised Vinnie on gumtree (a website that backpackers travelling around aussie use to buy and sell cars, vans etc) and in a few hostels. Within 2 days we got 2 calls and the second callers were a young German couple who immediately showed interest and eventually the deal was done - we had found Vinnie new owners - Julia and Matthias from Germany. Hopefully they will get as many memories together with him as we did. Aine was inconsolable....... I had to pry her fingers from Vinnie's bumper as his new owners drove away. A shot of whiskey and a few pints and she felt better. Though we are now in Sulawesi, an island in Indonesia, we still recall some of our adventures in Vinnie which brings a smile to our faces.