Updated: Mar 17
She came to me at Midnight, quite literally just before the clock struck twelve. And whilst not the glass clad carriage that awaited Cinderella, my own pumpkin shaped carriage and perhaps my own folk-tale awaited me.
I'm ashamed to admit I had concealed this purchase from my husband, perhaps due to a mixture of embarrassment and guilt, but I knew due to the 'size' of the delivery, that this was a purchase I could not receipt on my own. Besides, I would need to take over our single garage for an indefinite period of time.
So at some point during that day, I confessed to him that I was expecting the delivery of a 'sizeable item' that I required some assistance with. That sizeable item was an original 1940’s Teardrop Camper, being delivered from Bendigo.
We waited all day and well into the night. The driver had been stopped and was fined at the weigh bridge at Marulan, and would have to find another means of transporting his load. It was a relief to hear the truck finally roll into our street, and as we walked down the street to greet the driver, my husband and I thought how lucky we were that it was a moonlit night, and we were able to see into the darkness.
I have always been like the character out of The Wind in the Willows, 'Mr. Toad'. Always impulsive and completely infatuated by a piece I have become taken with. The rational brain becomes completely overtaken by the emotional, and in that moment, anything is justifiable. It is something I am working on. Because if I am completely honest, this was in fact, the 'second' caravan I had purchased in as many months. The other caravan had been 'stripped' to its skeleton and was resting in a shed in Goulburn. And instead of being grateful for the first, I decided I much preferred the second, and decided to purchase it regardless. Was it stressful? Absolutely!
There have been moments of clarity in my life when I've become acutely aware of how bizarre the situation is I have gotten myself into. This was one of those moments. As I looked up at the teardrop on the trailer, I saw that she had become impailed on a 1970’s vintage gemini during the journey! I saw the damage to the plywood (although I could not appreciate the enormity of the restoration ahead of me). What I also saw though, was how the 'skin' just gleamed under the moonlight! The magic was palpable! And so, I took the old skeleton key and rolled her with my husband down the street and into what has now become 'my' garage.
The next day I inspected my new acquisition. I purchased her from an Olive Grower in Victoria, and I believe the family holidayed with this van in the 80s, but since then it had sat in a shed. It was full of rubbish, and as soft drink bottles and treasures from the seaside had been left inside, it had become a breeding ground for black mould. It was everywhere, and in all likelihood hazardous! However, I could spy some older pieces from the original owner and it was that curiosity that would keep me motivated. This van was originally discovered in Eaglehawk next to an 1880s miners house, with a trove of tools. The man who built it knew what he was doing, and although I had no experience in restoration or ever properly been 'on the tools', his craftsmanship and skill was evident. His work deserved preserving.
And so I began slowly. As most caravans seem to have a 'name', it seemed like a good starting point. I originally chose 'Connie', after an old Super Constellation aeroplane my father loved. And while a small teardrop is perfect for sitting beside a fire and staring up at the constellations, I would eventually change the name. Three years on, my teardrop is known as 'Old Rowley'. I purchased this caravan shortly after my grandmother passed away. She was a tremendously special person. She loved horses and Racing, especially the Melbourne Cup. As a young woman she had a dream that a racehorse 'Old Rowley' would win the Melbourne Cup. In this dream she saw the front page of a newspaper announcing the win at the odds 100-1. It was 1939, and that year, Old Rowley was scratched from the Cup. But in November 1940, Old Rowley would go on to win the cup at the near impossible odds of 100-1, and in alignment with my Grandmother's dream.