I remember as a child that it was a big deal in the family when Dad's sister Aunty Dora and her husband Uncle Malcolm set off to a holiday to England on the liner Orcades, accompanied by streamers and much waving! I wasn't privy to the conversations, but apparently Dora and Malcolm were to buy a car for Mum and Dad while they were over there and bring it back. Why it was better to buy a car in England was all a mystery to me. Perhaps it was because in those days all things British were considered best, perhaps because it was to be Dad's car as head of the house.
Whatever the reason, a Vauxhall Wyvern came to be housed in our large back yard (well it seemed large to me at the time), with no one in the family with a licence to drive it! Our neighbour came with charts on how and when to change the oil, but still it stayed housed in the garage next to the chook pen, never moving for months.
Why Dad never ventured into car driving was just another one of those family mysteries that children never ask about. Perhaps as an interesting achiever of sorts he was frightened of failure for he never showed any aptitude to anything mechanical all his life.
Unbeknown to anyone, as we older kids were at work and dad was at work, mum took driving lessons and got her licence. How she afforded it out of housekeeping I'm not sure--she probably used the money she made from selling eggs which I took around to neighbours on my bike. Mum told me her secret, but not my younger brother, saying she wasn't going to continue catching trams with a baby in a pram when there was a perfectly good car in the garage.
Mum wasn't brave enough to take the car out without telling Dad but finally told him she would if he didn't get his licence. This was enough to push him into doing just that, but he always preferred public transport so left the car for mum who pursued her singing lessons.
The Vauxhall stayed with the family for many years, coming to Benalla in 1960. After running the Nunn Street newsagency for a year Mum and Dad bought a farm on Goomalibee Road. This seemed a long way to ride the bike to activities, so the Wyvern was used to learn to drive. Dad always said I ruined the car learning to drive, but I think it was more likely his using it for carting hay! Besides, he needed a bigger car to pull his horse floats.
*A 'tipster' was a person who provided racing tips to others.