A weekly ode to the joys of moaning about your holiday.
"Cruising on the Interislanderrrrrrr, takin' my time, feelin' fine," lied the Warratahs almost 30 years ago. Maybe that's unfair, it did look like one of those "can't beat it on a good day" Wellington days when they filmed their classic Kiwi commercial back in 1990. It's just that the ad was so convincing. And so ubiquitous. I can't think of the early 90s without thinking of things like Martin Crowe's headband, Dr Ropata, Henderson Square, $34 CDs, Ruth Richardson, Roly Hei Hei and cruising on the Interislanderrrrr.
Pre-May 1993, I was an Interislanderrrrr virgin. All I had to go on was the rolling "r" TV ad with the Warratahs and, boy, did they make crossing the Cook Strait look like some sort of throw the bucket list away, trip of a lifetime, luxury cruise. I was very excited.
The occasion was my sister's wedding in Blenheim and at long last, aged 11, I was finally to be "cruising on the Interislanderrrrr". I had all the other lyrics to the country-twanged ditty in my head too, including the rousing, "I'm off to see my mother, have you met my brother? Yip, I'll have another, WHAT A WAY TO START A HOLIDAY!"
What a way indeed. To quote George Costanza: "The sea was angry that day, my friends. Like an old man trying to send back soup in a deli."
I'd never known waves so heaving and rambunctious, and within five minutes I was horizontal and certain there could be no human alive in a state more ghastly than I. The Warratahs were nowhere to be seen and I was not as the ad suggested, "feelin' fine".
My Interislanderrrrrr dreams were dashed and I considered a complaint to the Commerce Commission for misleading advertising. Lying down with my eyes closed, my face green, I eventually noticed the swell had eased and there was no longer the sound of water crashing against the windows. Opening my eyes, the grey, windy morning of Wellington had been swapped for a still, blue-sky Marlborough day. It was stunning.
I still felt near death, but the sight of the Marlborough Sounds as we completed the final leg of the crossing to Picton was incredible, even for an ill 11-year-old. As such, I decided against contacting the Commerce Commission. The Warratahs were off the hook, but only just.
Camping in the Aussie Outback nerves
In a couple of weeks I'll be camping deep in the Aussie Outback in Queensland's Simpson Desert. I've been invited to the Big Red Bash — a John Farnham-headlined music festival described as "the most remote concert on the planet". How could I say no? I'm more than partial to a bit of John "The Voice" Farnham and the last time I was road-tripping through the Outback in 2016 was a revelation. From the sweeping "big sky" beauty of it all to the characters you meet, I loved it.
It's only now that I'm starting to get nervous though. I've never been especially at home in a tent and as a grandpa-bladdered chap, my 2am and 5am toilet stops have me mildly freaking out. Will I be brave enough to unzip a tent in the middle of the night and say g'day to the dingoes, kangaroos, tarantulas and freaky-fanged snakes while relieving myself?
I'm hoping so because the setting of the festival — a stage surrounded by 40m-high sand dunes more than 1500km west of Brisbane — sounds unforgettable. Maybe if I'm tenting with The Voice I'll be fine. "If I'm not back in two minutes grab a torch and call for help, The Voice! We're all someone's daughter!"
Tim Roxborogh hosts Newstalk ZB's Weekend Collective and writes the blog RoxboroghReport.com