Father only came home at weekends when I would examine the truck for damage. On one occasion the back of the cabin was stove in from the load shifting. Frequently the wooden pole of the jinker was smashed.
A day trip to the forest with him is the ultimate. Dad hauls logs with the bulldozer. At the landing stage the steel wire cables strain to haul the giants up the timber struts. When the log finally rolls into place on the timber jinker, a cloud of dust rises as the truck settles down under the suddenly added weight.
I perch excitedly on the edge of the seat, so that I can see through the windscreen, as we head down the mountain to deliver the logs to the mill. Father winds the truck slowly around the sharp bends of the narrow dirt mountain road; steering with one hand as he eats his lunch sandwiches with the other. He points out wreckage of trucks that have failed to negotiate the sharp hairpin bends of the road and have plunged down through the tree tops to the valley floor below. “That one there had its brakes fail. This one had the load shift before it went over the edge!” We travel steadily; one false move could push us over the edge as well.
New cars could only be purchased when a permit was issued for special cases. We got an early permit for a new Oldsmobile and ‘the Olds’ came into our lives. “Children, we are going on a drive to the hills,” would often summon us on Sunday afternoons. On our first trip driving through the Dandenong Ranges Dad thought he detected a rattle. Windows were wound down and we all listened. “There it is!” He stopped. It was a bellbird!
After a move to the country the Olds was a large presence in our lives for many years.
I learnt to drive in the Olds. Dad said “It’s time you learnt to drive but I can’t stand to watch. I’m walking with the sheep to Summerlands and you can drive down to fetch me.” I had no idea how to drive. I started it in top gear, muffed the gears and went down a hill in angel gear while I read the manual on how to change gear. The Olds, stately old girl that she was, handled it well.
Reluctantly it was traded in. I saw it years later. There were big holes in the spotless upholstery and rusted holes in the mudguards, but it was still as black and shiny as ever. Dad had always said, “This, is a motor car.” Someone else loved it too.