Yeah, mate, click go the odometers

Caroline Frost
December 11, 2009

AS your fair dinkum paid-up expat, I like to think I've had my fair share of uniquely Australian experiences. But a recent weekend brought something new - the bush wedding party.

Although it had obviously taken hours to prepare this rustic and casual feast, the Esky siphon in particular looked as if it had come straight from Willy Wonka's factory.

The gathering had a wonderfully spontaneous feel, as though 100 people had gathered by chance in the middle of a paddock, to dine on a fantastic spread, dance in the mud and shelter inside the thoughtfully installed Mongolian-style yurt if the rain came.

 Which it did in bucket-loads, although I seemed to be the only person who noticed. The only concession to the terrible weather was that, over by the soccer game, the goalkeeper actually had an umbrella.

Apparently if you boogied near enough the roaring fire and then turned your back for the chorus, the rain dried on you well before it got a chance to soak through.

You Aussies are a mighty tough bunch and no mistake.

Bigger surprises were to come. Over a delicious open-air meal, I discovered not only had most guests driven the best part of 200km to stand in this rain-sodden field, but they were happily turning round for the trip home only a few hours later. Apparently this impressive hardiness is nothing unusual in these parts.

A quick office straw poll has uncovered a colleague with cousins who drive from Jerilderie if there's a good lunch in the offing. I know a chap who gets in his truck and drives all the way from Beechworth because there's a good barber on Bridge Rd.

Nor is it one-way traffic - come the Tatura races and the Hume will be fit to bursting with people who are happy never to set foot at Flemington.

I know you're a nation of travellers, but I didn't realise that meant you were happy to spend whole days at the wheel.

Needless to say, my fellow whingeing Poms and I would never make it this far in our homeland - for a start, we'd have to stop at the coast - but I reckon you'd be impressed by our friends north of the border.

On a trip to Scotland once, I joined a merry clan of four, traipsing through the December snow to stay in a mountainside bothy - a hunters' shed - for a harsh winter night.

As the token lightweight, I soon crashed out, leaving my hardy colleagues to enjoy the fire, food and ale. Much later, there was a knock at the door, and a stranger appeared. It was two in the morning and he'd driven up from Glasgow - a mere 300km - because he'd heard there was revelry to be had.

Nonetheless, he was eyed with suspicion until he removed his snow-brushed duffel coat.

"What've you got there?" asked our leader.

"A can of beans and a bottle of whisky," was the reply. He got a roar of approval, and the night was again young.

By the time I got up at dawn, our new friend had already departed, having driven a sum total of 600km for a mere four hours of fun.

So next time you're gathering in a faraway paddock, putting down the logs and cranking up the stereo, spare a thought for our highland traveller and his nose for a good party.

No doubt right now he's happily driving down the glen and making his way to you.

On the road: Aussies will travel a long way for a good time.