Before the economy forced Ireland’s youth to look to countries afar, Paul Martin made the decision to get out of a mundane job and ‘see the world’ throughout the 1990s. Thus began the adventure of a lifetime that took him 30,000 kilometres through Australia in a 1978 Ford Falcon station wagon.
In August 2011 it was reported that the number of Irish people who received working holiday visas for Australia increased by nearly 50 per cent compared to the previous year. In the current economic climate, Australia seems to be the destination of choice for the many recently emigrated Irish. With their tendency to stay in main cities, particularly Sydney, how much of Australia do they really see?
Travels with Bertha is the story of the real Australia. Extending a one-year working holiday visa into thirty months, Paul lived the colourful, precarious and occasionally solitary life of a ‘backpacker’ in various locations throughout Australia, travelling extensively through every State and Territory in Australia including a trip across the Bass Straits to Tasmania. In this and two other journeys across the continent, he travelled (and slept) in Bertha, encountering many fascinating characters (including the Queensland drug dealer-turned-miner who had blown off all his fingers in repeated work accidents; the Adelaide Aborigine whose Irish uncle, in revenge for Captain Cook, claimed the territory of Britain for Australia from the top of Big Ben; the ex-alcoholic in Tasmania who relayed that his bi-polar condition could be traced back to his direct ancestor, King George III; the dying man in the Kimberleys who had witnessed a haunting aboriginal dance gathering in 1925….) and much of Australia’s hidden history and landscape.
Travels With Bertha is the perfect book for not only those planning on or dreaming about visiting Australia, but also those who have returned and want to relive their years Down Under. A light-hearted travel book with strong historical content, Travels With Bertha details Paul Martin’s two years spent travelling through the startling beauty of this most fascinating of continents in a 1978 Ford Falcon station wagon. Guaranteed to give you itchy feet!
Bertha was a 1978 5 litre, automatic Ford Falcon Station Wagon now lying rusting and cannibalised in a garage yard in Mataranka, the Northern Territories, Australia. Paul hopes the release of Travels With Bertha may spur on some local Australians or curious backpackers to seek her out!