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Mike's Australia


When I lived in Townsville, many of my diving mates were in the army. Some were
in Special Forces units. They told me about bush tucker and the packs of cards they
carried on manoeuvres. They were about the size of playing cards and provided
information needed to live off the land. One side had a picture of a plant or animal.
The other told you about its nutritional properties and where to find it.
If you want to find out more, search the net for Les Hiddins. He was Capt. Hiddins
when I knew him. He has since left the army and is well known for his books and TV-
series on bush tucker.
17 Bulldust
My friend Luke has a cattle ranch in Queensland's northern gulf country. We
first visited him about thirty years ago and made the trip in the family station
wagon. It goes without saying that cars were different in those days.
As a young guy, I owned a BSA 350 motor cycle. When my financial situation
improved I bought my first car, a Hillman Minx, built to wartime specification. It was a
robust vehicle that could be got going with a hand crank when the battery lacked
power to turn the starter motor.
I could get the station wagon going by jacking up the front wheels and turning them
by hand. If the battery was totally flat and the generator was no longer operating, I
could substitute flashlight batteries, linking them in series to achieve 12 volts . They
could provide a good enough spark to keep the cylinders firing for a few hours.
I was recently on a bush walk with friends and we came upon a family whose
vehicle had broken down. We offered to give them a push and were told that the car
was an "automatic". There was no way to engage gears and get the engine to turn
over.
The model is being promoted on TV. You've probably seen the adverts. Proud
father is out in his new off-road vehicle with his adoring family. He splashes through
rivers and climbs impossible mountains . Everyone is delighted and no one gives
thought to what would happen if anything went wrong . The guy we met had a flat
battery. His problem wasn't serious but he had no way of getting started. In a remote
situation that could be catastrophic.
Modern cars are more fuel-efficient than their predecessors and have many other
advantages. The improvement has been achieved through enormous technical
sophistication. There was a time when mechanics did running repairs on the side of
the road. Automobile associations employed people who went around in vans. Quite
often they could get a vehicle going again. Now, if you need much more than a jump-
start or a new fan belt, you'll probably be told to wait for a tow truck.
Our station wagon was very different from the car I drive today. It had front-wheel-
drive and low clearance . When I opened the bonnet, I saw things I recognised from
 
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