By: George Reid
Taking a long trip to Australia was a check off of my bucket list. I never thought it would become a reality. I knew that when this opportunity arose through McPherson College, I couldn’t pass it up.
January 5th was the scheduled day to start our trek and it went exactly according to plan. We met at 11am on that day and had a brief meeting and a catered lunch, presented by the school. After lunch and some wise words shared by Jen Jenson, we packed up the Midway Motors Ford Transit vans and headed for the airport to catch our first plane. The first flight was a short connecting flight From Wichita to Dallas and then from Dallas directly to Sydney, Australia. The flight to Sydney was quite an experience. All of us college students were seated together in two rows, well except Liz, she had a row to herself. But i’ll be the first to tell you, it was a life altering experience. 17 hours on one airplane flight will give a person a new found respect for leg room, and a bed to sleep in. But for an international flight, Qantas airlines did a stellar job.
The in flight service was great, it was all smiles and some sort of food. After we arrived in Sydney, the long plane ride and time zone difference caught up to almost everyone. We settled in to our dorm rooms at the Sancta Sophia College graduate dormitory so the fun could begin.
Our first week there was an eventful one. We visited the Blue Mountains, home of the Three Sisters Rocks, a very beautiful tourist attraction. At the Blue Mountains Wildlife Park, we got to see the vast animal life of Australia. We visited The Rocks Museum, a historical museum retelling the stories of early settlement in the Rocks District of Sydney’s harbor with an amazing view of the Opera House. As we took in all the breathtaking views and the multitude of wildlife and business happenings, the free nature of the trip allowed us to be able to explore whatever we found in the areas that peaked our interest.
In the second week, we checked out the insanely packed paced flea market and stores in Chinatown. It was a very unique experience, a lot different than anything that happens in Broadway, Virginia, where I am from. With it being summer, we took a ferry ride to Manly Beach, which was my favorite beach we visited. We also checked out Bondi Beach, which is historically known for being the first beach in the world to be protected by lifeguards. After spending some days at the different beaches, the whole group took an evening venturing up 1,014 feet in the Sydney tower where we enjoyed a beautiful sunset and some snacks as we spun around in the top of the tower viewing the city. Every 60 minutes would be one revolution around the whole city.
The third week began on another airplane, as we all flew to Melbourne, where we met Brian Tanti, a world renounce coachbuilder. We toured his workshop where he teaches and mentors as well as does experimental work for automotive builders and technology groups. After touring his shop, we took a short trolley ride downtown and ate a catered lunch at the RCVA. Essentially the AAA (Triple A) of the state of Victoria, in Australia. After a catered lunch with all the seafood one could eat, we toured the Fox Classic Car Collection which was just a short walk from Brian Tanti’s workshop. This collection was one of the most magnificent collections I have ever seen. I saw online it was estimated a near worth of $75 million. This collection included cars like Ferrari F40’s, Ferrari F50’s, V-12 E-Type Jaguars to the hand built bodied Porsche 350 Spyder built after the one James Dean died in. It was coachbuilt and restored by Brian Tanti. Getting to walk around and get an up close look at these gems made the trip for me. Before we departed back for Sydney, we met some members of the Victoria Chapter Ford Falcon Club and sat in and played with their 1962 Australian built Ford Falcons. It was a neat Experience.
Back in Sydney my friend, Nick, and I visited the NSW (New South Wales) chapter of the Studebaker Club. After emailing back and forth for a couple of days, I was lucky enough to get an invite for both myself and Nick to their monthly meeting. At that meeting we met some great people, talked about American and Australian studebakers, and had a great time. We then sat through the meeting where they covered regular business as well as recognized us for stopping by. The saturday after the meeting, Nick and I went on a day ride with the President of the Club in his 1951 4-door Studebaker Studebaker Champion. It was really neat seeing the differences between all the vintage cars in Australia compared to the vintage cars in the United States, especially the differences in Studebakers.
These two days by far were my favorite parts of the trip and I would have loved to have spent more than just two days visiting with the two clubs. As the scheduled part of the trip came to an end Nick and I took a trip by ourselves to Cairns, Australia on the northern coast. In Cairns, we met so many cool, new people. Staying in a backpackers hostel we met a large group of travelers from Europe and had a blast hanging out with them. We took an all day trip to go snorkeling in The Great Barrier Reef. This is something I will never forget, even though the flippers hurt my feet. It was another item crossed off of my bucket list and a memory that I will forever remember! This trip was a blast. Getting to know the people that went on the trip is something that helped make it worth it to me as well. I made some great friends and will share this memory with them forever. As Matt Porter keeps doing this sort of thing, I feel the trips will become a perfect 10 out of 10. This trip was one for the ages, dare I say “best interterm trip ever?” I am so glad I was part of it! I would love to do something like it again if given the chance.