It was 1962. My wife Jan and I had recently graduated in our respective vocations, her as a kindergarten teacher and me in architecture.
When we met, Jan had a ticket booked on a liner bound for the UK, but those plans were put on ice and it was marriage for us instead.
Before we got together I had done a fair bit of travelling, including a six-month stint in Japan, so seeing the world was high on the agenda rather than settling down, as a few of our friends were already doing.
Back in the 1960s, after graduating with some sort of degree or in a trade, youngsters in Australia (and many in Europe) seemed to gain the urge for adventure.
We were no exception, and began drawing up plans fairly soon after our wedding, but air travel proved prohibitively expensive. There were bus trips available to various parts of central Asia and India, and it was pretty basic travelling.
All on board would help to pitch tents and cook, yet it seemed a great way to see the world without having to look after your own vehicle.
But, having decided to go to Europe, we elected to drive and we chose a 1928 Model A Ford to do it in – after all, nearly five million buyers between 1927 and ’31 can’t have been wrong about these rugged workhorses.
We were living and working in Melbourne at the time, and after talking to other adventurous types it soon became clear this sort of journey was possible. Not easy, perhaps, but possible.
That was enough: the challenge was there and we were young, healthy and eager.
Decision made, although our parents were not so sure
On the Nullarbor early in the trip, on the way to Perth
Mutual friend (and fellow architect) John Dalton, was keen to return to the UK so joined us for the trip, packing his own one-man tent.
After a basic restoration of the Ford, our running around in Victoria prior to departure did little to indicate what lay ahead for the car.
We left Melbourne in late November 1962, with my brother and family accompanying us until our lunch stop. Jan’s sister, Sue, and a couple of friends were also present early in the morning to bid us farewell.
They were probably all wondering if they’d ever see us again.
Turkey’s Highway No 1 was under construction when the Hunters passed by in their Ford Model A
In Adelaide we met Jan’s elderly grandparents and two aunts, who all raised eyebrows at our chosen mode of transport, and on leaving the South Australian capital we happened upon a roadside weighbridge for grain trucks.
We drove on to the platform and were surprised to find that we weighed in at 39cwt, or 1950kg. Empty, the Model A tipped the scales at 21cwt (1067kg), so inevitably, as well as overheating, we had a few tyre problems.
We started with the best 450x21in rubber we could rustle up, but it let us down.
We bought four new tyres in Perth, and those then took us through to London, but compared with the vehicles of the many other fellow travellers we subsequently met, the Ford turned out to be relatively trouble-free.
We were really lucky to have decided upon the sturdy and simple 3.3-litre, four-cylinder Model A.
Even the ubiquitous Volkswagen Kombis and Land-Rovers were not immune to problems, generally with springs or clutches, and often because they were heavily overloaded.
We even spotted a Sunbeam-Talbot and a Morris 1100 – the latter was the first I had ever seen, and it wasn’t handling the conditions well
Some travellers had converted small buses into caravans, with youths and families going to Australia, and all too often they suffered from mechanical issues.
Citroën 2CVs seemed to put up with the tough conditions well, though, and later in Germany, shortly after waving to a 1928 Bentley that was broken down on the autobahn, one tore past us as we sat at a steady 40mph.