DAY 131: A spot of Sunday afternoon circle work

9 Jan

It's even more dangerous with a black bar over your eyes.

“CIRCLE work” is as integral a part of country life as harassing rabbits and hanging around outside the one fast-food franchise in town, so it’s next on my agenda as a wet-behind-the-ears bush cookie. At first I assumed it to be some kind of embroidery stitch, but no – it involves a 120 degree fishtail, preferably of a “utility vehicle”.

I enlist the help of a friend from the hoon capital of Australia to run me through the motions. “I think it’s really important a learner knows how to do donuts,” Emerson hypothesises. “It’s a national pastime.”

The first time we met, my grease-monking guide pronounced, “I like to just go outside, spit, and then drive till my ears hurt,” in a peculiar, vowelly timbre. Despite having no clue what he was on about, I readily accept most things people tell me, and this seemed a reasonable enough statement. But when I was introduced to his ute, it all made sense for real. A 6.5-litre V8 engine in a modified 1979 Ford makes a mighty ear-hurtin’ racket indeed. Get the wind behind you (hence the explorative spitting), and it makes a mighty fast ear-hurtin’ racket.

My first challenge, however, is getting the old bastard to start (the ute, that is). After tooling away at the ignition and jiggling the wheel for five minutes, we’re off. “If the throttle sticks when you’re going down the freeway, punch it hard,” comes the next instruction, followed by a stream of technical jargon that makes no sense whatsoever and thus is entirely superfluous, in my opinion.

The stonking engine’s so restless that whenever I take off at a green light I perform a screeching burnout without even intending to, to the admiration of teenage boys all over Victoria.

After a pie stop, we find an idyllic lane (on Emerson’s private estate) and it’s time for my stylish manoeuvre. It’s a bit intimidating with Emmo in the passenger seat – a bit like a grade two guitarist trying to impress Brian May. Still, I stick the shonkbox in second, hit the accelerator and pull a hard right. Hellzapoppin! And hard left. Argh!!

It’s hard to stop at one, isn’t it? I stall the thing three times by getting cold feet and then taking one of those feet off the throttle. Funny – my tootsies had not long before been aflame from the oddly placed exhaust. I’m not saying it’s deliberate that I later smack said exhaust into a speed hump at 70km/h… but I’m not saying it isn’t, either.

Keeper? Tackling Mount Tarrengower as navigator next! If one can navigate with one’s eyeballs burrowed into one’s knees.

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