Randoms one by one – Licences

I grew up the eldest of 4 on a farm in western NSW Australia.  My father says that we alternated between being poor and very poor.

I started "driving lessons" when I was about 8 years old on an old Commer truck.  I had to stand on the floor between the steering wheel and seat to get the clutch down far enough to change gear.   

When I was about 10 a cousin arrived with a Standard which he cut the top off and used to spotlight kangaroos and wild pigs.  He lived in Sydney so left the car on the farm -  I would play taxi around the paddocks – one sister and my brother would be the passengers.   I got to leave them miles from home with the promise of coming back later to pick them up (younger siblings are so trusting!!).

I don't think my youngest sister played this game.  My mother probably thought I would not be able to see her over the bonnet and so run over her.

In those days we got our official Learner's plates when we were 16 years and 9 months.  When we turned 17 we could get our P plates (provisional licence).

I went for my licence in a Ford Falcon Ute – a huge policeman sitting close beside me on the bench seat as I manipulated the 3-on-the wheel gears trying not to dig my elbows into him!

By then I was also driving a semi-trailer – though not legally.  A Diamond-T which seemed to have 20 gears!  The truck belonged to a share farmer who insisted that I learn to reverse the truck with a box trailer on the back of the truck trailer!!! (that is really, really difficult to do!).   While my father harvested the crop I would drive the truck full of grain to the silo at the railway siding  – this required driving on a public road – no one seemed to worry that I didn't have a licence.

One day I walked into the police station and asked if I had to bring a truck in to do my driving test.  He laughed and told me to just fill in the form.

When I got my bike licence I took my brother's Kawasaki 900 in to town.  The policeman came out and told me to ride down around the park and school and "if you make it back you get the license".   Then he turned around and went back inside!

Things were so easy in a small country town!!

When I left home to go to university in Sydney, my parents moved. Actually I think they were basically packing the car when they thought to let me know! :-)   My father got a small inheritance when his mother died (the advantage of being an only child is that you get all of whatever there is) and he bought a nice half cabin cruiser boat and a speed boat  – hence my boat licence. 

I've had a hell of a lot of enjoyment driving with and without licences!

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23 responses

  1. It is funny
    how much in the countryside you end up driving almost everything with or
    without a license. And how much things have changed in the obtaining a full license
    now a day several things I should have gotten when it was nothing more then
    they watched you do a circle around a parking lot and that was good enough to
    obtain your license. Also girls now are doing more behind the wheel as far as
    big trucks and motorcycles. Where you were a bit ahead of your time learning
    all that and getting your license, something many people never worried about in
    the rural areas you just did what you had to and drove whatever was needed

  2. Ah the memories Emjay.I went to the Tom Price copshop to get my bike license when I was 18. The wagon was in for a service so he said ride down the end of the street and do a U turn. When I came back he said "Without putting your foot down Dick head." Is that an Aussie small town cop or what? I did as instructed and he completed the paperwork.Bewdiful…

  3. All my friends had cars when I was in high school so I didn’t have to drive. I didn’t get my license until I turned 18. When I was finally a legal, my parents never let me drive any of their vehicles. When ever I asked, my dad would make a walking motion with his fingers and then say “now make your legs do that and you will get to where you need to go”. hahahahaha

  4. Fantastic! It's great that you could do the learning that way. My father's family grew up in a fairly isolated area in far northern Wisconsin, and he and his brothers learned to drive anything with wheels- on fields and the shores of lakes– etc., no interference from authorities, etc. Dad was a superb driver, and I think that background played a part. When I got my bike licenc this story is so funny and amazing!!

  5. I think you learned the best way and the most logical way to drive! Because of your experience, you probably aren't intimidated by any kind of vehicle? What about a semi-truck? Have you tried that? 😉

  6. I have this memory – maybe I'm making it up. But someone was in a boot. The car had a way you could get from the back seat into the boot. We were in that paddock behind the old hut where the drunk russion painter stayed.

  7. Yes I was ahead of my time. I think because I was the eldest and I was
    about 4 years older than the only boy in the family I was "forced" to
    do things other girls (especially town girls) didn't do. I loved it
    all though. Funny – when I came here to DC and went for my licence
    they tested me on the rules only. I thought they should have made
    sure that I could actually drive on the right hand side! LOL

  8. LOL! Ah yes – those were the days indeed! I think I miss everything about that country town but it's funny how quickly I left when I could! Maybe it is just the rose coloured glasses of age ……

  9. LOL!! Between finishing high school and going off to uni, I had a year off and I went halves in the cost of a car with my mother. She got the better deal because I had to leave it for her when I went to uni – I had to walk and public transport everywhere in Sydney!

  10. I think growing up in the country instills more of a sense of responsibility – or maybe just in the "old" days! Sounds like a nice place your father grew up in. We didn't have any nice lakes! Most of the time we were in drought.

  11. I have an articulated vehicle truck licence which means a "heavy" vehicle – so semi-trailers yes. The trucks that farmers put grain in has one or two trailers and in the far west they have up to 5! Then they are called road trains – I don't think I would like to drive one of those – too long!

  12. LOL! I was surprised that Washington DC gave me my American licence without making sure I could drive on the right hand side!! I did have to learn the 101 road rules though.

  13. Oh man! Yeah! Trucker lady keep on truckin' down the roaaaad!!! Steer clear everybody 'cause Emjay with her toned up biceps is gonna run you into the ground! Honk! Honk!
    If I could drive a huge truck like that, I'd be pretty darn proud of myself indeed!

  14. No I think it's real! LOL! I had totally forgotten about the painter – I think his name was Alex – we thought he was drinking the turps! I think mum used to like me to be in that paddock so she could come quickly if she heard the car rolling over!!

  15. A Diamond-T which seemed to have 20 gears!You have now earned permanent 'awe'someness in my eyes. The only reason I never got to driving cars properly back home was the gears. I rode about town on a gearless scooter. When we came to the US, my only pre-condition for a car was..No Gears!Great story.

  16. LOL! Both my eldest son and the Princess have only learnt automatic driving. I think there is a bit of a thrill to be had revving through those gears!

  17. Cool, i've been through that area many times, but never really stopped and looked around.. not even Dubbo! We used to get a bus from Dubbo that went on the Mitchell Highway…

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