Inspired by the tales of Aussies driving from London to Sydney in the 70’s, a gang of modern days adventurers took the road yesterday to recreate the first of this overland trip.
- Soundtrack of the report
- Magic Bus
- The Who
One of the things we love about Twitter is that it helps us discover so many new exciting people and projects on daily basis. This is how we heard about the Tadpoles crew and their odyssey on a 1958 double-decker bus. And to be honest our first thought was “Bastards, that sounds amazing! WE want to do that.”. Yes we are jealous… But we can’t have all the fun, I guess.
So we decided to get in touch with Rose who manages the social aspect of the project. We wanted to know all the details of this adventure and discover who was embarking on this project. She was nice enough to take the time to answer the interview that you can read below.
Have a great trip guys!
1. Who came up with this project?
Jordan Cross, one of our drivers. A couple of years back he read Top Deck Daze, a book about two London-living Aussie backpackers called Bill James and Graham Turner. In the early 1970s they bought a vintage double decker, fitted it with bunks and a kitchen and started driving punters on overland European and Asian tours. Jordan loved the story and decided he wanted to recreate their first London to Sydney overland.
2. Who’s embarking on the journey?
There’s a crew of 11 of us. Seven boys. Four girls. Five nationalities. We range in ages from 19 to 32. It’s a similar demographic to that of the 70s tours, which were made up of 18-35 year olds from all over the world.
3. How did you prepare it? What resources did you use?
First Jordan had to find out if any of the old Top Deck busses were still in one piece. When he found Tadpoles in the Isle of Wight bus museum he had to seek permission to borrow her. Then she had to be renovated inside and out.
The internet was invaluable. Jordan surfed for hours every day trying to figure out how to get stuff done.
And we couldn’t have done it without the old timers. Countless meetings with people who’d done the trip in the 70s and 80s helped us to prepare for the unknown.
4. Why is travel appealing to you? What do you get from it?
It’s a break from normality, isn’t it? We’re not gap yearers with nothing to lose, we’re all young professionals with thriving careers. So the element of risk in pursuing something Romantic is important to us. Being surrounded by unfamiliarity is a test of character, the kind of which most people don’t experience in day to day life. And let’s not get too lofty about it: at the end of the day it’s a holiday as much as anything else and it’s going to be a bit of party.
5. What will be your best asset on this trip?
Our group dynamic and trust in each other. We’re travelling through some volatile places. Our success in getting to Oz will be dependent on our adaptability and common sense. And our gorgeous faces.
6. What would be your ideal mode of transport, real or invented?
A 1958 double-decker bus.
7. What do you hope to accomplish during this trip?
We just want to have a look.
8. What do you hope won’t happen during this trip?
It’s tempting to say we’re hoping there won’t be any big arguments between crew members. But it’s kind of inevitable. And besides, the occasional sour atmosphere is all part of the experience. There’d be no point if it was easy.
What we do hope is that no-one falls ill anywhere too remote. We’re traveling on some barren stretches, especially in Iran and India, and a double-decker bus wouldn’t be a nice place to sweat out a tropical lurgy.
9. Which countries are you looking forward to the most?
We’re all excited about different places. The beach babies among us are panting for the Indian coast, and the Aussies are looking forward to getting back Down Under. On the 70s tours young Australians used the double-decker overland as an extended sashay back home after their working holidays in London. Most of them didn’t come back.
Everyone’s excited about Iran. By all accounts it’s stunningly beautiful, and home to some of the best preserved ancient ruins in the world.
It’s going to be good when we’re clear Europe and hit some sunshine. The English summer was a bit of a non-event.
10. How do you expect your adventure to be different from Bill James and Graham Turner’s similar trip in the 70s?
We’ll probably be seeing a different world to the one they saw. Mass tourism has changed things. Once remote places are now full of Westereners seeking a slice of the east. Northern Goa, like parts of Thailand, used to be an unspoiled beach paradise and is now littered with the kind of sticky-floored cocktail bars which wouldn’t look out of place on your average middle England high street.
Kathmandu’s another example. It used to be a Mecca for hippies seeking alternative stimulate, now it’s kind of become a parody of itself.
Bill and Screw’s experiences were more ‘blind’ than ours will be. They didn’t have location information just a click away, and the Top Deck heyday predated the guide book boom.
We’re trying to make our trip as authentic as possible by not having laptops/wifi on board, but we can’t escape the fact that the organization of this trip would have been a lot more difficult without the internet.
11. What is the perfect soundtrack for this adventure?
Ahhh that’s a tricky question. We’re getting a soundsystem installed on the bus. Guessing it’ll play a bit of everything. Our tastes are pretty diverse.
You may also like
This week, Benny Lewis the Irish Polyglot answers our questions.