The best thing about overland driving in Australia? That’s easy. By a long shot, it’s pulling up in an unfamiliar town, stepping out onto a new street – even if that’s just a servo, a takeaway joint and a diesel mechanic – and being the new guy in town. It never gets old. I particularly love stepping into a country pub and feeling all eyes swing around to size me up. Will they cotton to my type around here? Or am I going to be driven out of town by locals wielding pitchforks?
The latter has never happened to me. There’s often that moment of tension, where people weigh up if you’re likely to disrupt their vibe, but I doubt they’re gearing up to reach for their pitchforks. For all I know, they don’t even own pitchforks – a lot of farm work seems to be done with machinery nowadays. Evidently, though, some hand-held tools are yet to be replaced, as I always seem to get into a conversation about under body tool boxes for utes while I’m waiting for my chips or whatnot.
See, here’s the thing – there’s always a point of similarity between people, no matter where they’re from. In my experience, you can generally skip past any tension and get onto common ground faster than you can ask for the key to the restroom. I’ve learnt a lot about ute mods this way, as a matter of fact. For example, when it comes to designing a custom ute canopy, Melbourne has a lot to learn from its rural neighbours. They really know how to take it to the next level.
I like to think I’m enough of a man-about-the-place to have seen it all in the world of ute accessories, but no. There’s always some new way of doing things cropping up and putting my carefully curated rig to shame. That said, I also manage to garner my share of admiration for what I’ve done with the old Triton. It depends on who you talk to.