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"Not only are his photos wonderful, but he's not short of talent with the pen either. His stories are frank yet delicately respectful of even the most contrasting of personalities, and he has the most impressive talent of extracting from almost everyone their full name, origin and life story ... seems he was a born hitch-hiker" -

Hitch 18

May 26, 1998

Nick Wheatley, 48, from Brunswick Heads (NSW)

10 minute wait, Bangalow off-ramp to Brunswick Heads, 1967 Valiant Safari

Photo taken on hill behind Byron Bay

* * * * *

Originally from Cornwall in England, Nick emigrated to Australia in 1970.

His story was, for me, perfect and managed to sum up everything my journey was about in one short, to the point sentence: “In 1969 I was travelling through North Africa. I met two Aussies who said that I should go back to England, buy a ten pound ticket to Australia, get to Brisbane, buy a panel van and drive to I did!”

That was it – his life story (so far) all there in 42 words.

He’d arrived in Australia 28 years earlier with a rucksack and his surfboard, and headed for Noosa which had a population of only 300 (Tewantin-Noosa’s 1998 population: 26,000).

From Noosa he went to Byron Bay and had lived in the area ever since.

The last time he was in Britain was 1972.

Normally, when the work was there, he was a carpenter, but that night in May when he stumbled across me he was on the way home from helping his brother put his bathroom in.

He’d owned the Valiant Safari for three years and overall, in its lifetime to date, it had done 900,000km!

What a beast!

Even the name Valiant Safari was beast like!

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