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Hobbies that last a lifetime

By Dean Mellor, 30 Sep 2017 Opinion

Land Rover Defender model vehicles

Age limits shouldn’t be put on hobbies that make us happy.

THE other day I caught myself doing something I used to do when I was a little kid, either in the back of the car on a family holiday or in the back of a bus on a school excursion.

I used to gaze out the window and whittle away the hours watching the verge on the side of the road rise and fall as it sped by, imagining myself riding along it on my Honda XR75, jumping culverts and skillfully negotiating any other obstacles that might get in my way.

My internal monologue would mimic an incredulous commentator, while at the same time generating the accompanying soundtrack of Soichiro Honda’s screaming little 75cc overhead cam single, revs quickly climbing and falling as I shifted through the imaginary gearbox as the changing terrain demanded.

Roll on 40 years or so and I find myself driving a well-equipped Holden Colorado through the Victorian High Country.

Land-Rover-Defender-300TDI.jpgAs I amble over steep and bumpy tracks, my mind drifts and I imagine that I’m instead behind the wheel of my Land Rover Defender.

I keep thinking how much more ground clearance I’d have, how the gearing would be better suited to the steepness of the country, how I’d have a better view through the Landy’s upright, flat windscreen and over its shorter, stubbier bonnet, and how I’d have access to front and rear lockers should the need for more traction arise.

While there is no commentary going on in my head, I can certainly imagine the sound of my Landy’s rattly old 300Tdi over the reality of the Colorado’s barely audible VM Motori diesel.

Land-Rover-Defender-300TDI-tyres.jpgYou’d reckon that at some stage you’d reach an age when you stop being a kid. As I recently notched up a half ton, I can assure you that 50 is not it. In fact, to celebrate my 50th birthday I met a few mates in town and proceeded to drink like an 18-year old – so much beer, in fact, that I swore off the grog for the remainder of the month.

If my juvenile behaviour that night wasn’t enough to convince me I hadn’t yet “grown up”, then the birthday presents my family and friends lavished upon me certainly were. In amongst the usual drinking paraphernalia and bottles of wine was a pair of chequer-plate wings for my Defender and a Traxxas TRX-4 1/10th scale RC rock crawler. Yep, I might be 50, but I still love playing with RC crawlers.

I already have a 1/10th scale RC4WD Gelande II Defender rock crawler (piloted by none other than Evel Knievel) with a heap of aftermarket goodies including roof rack, snorkel, Baja Designs light bar, OME suspension, G4 Challenge tent and more, but the Traxxas TRX-4 is next-level.

Land-Rover-Defender-300TDI-custom.jpgThis thing has a dual-range transmission, portal axles, remote locking front and rear diff locks, and standard accessories such as bullbar, roof rack, jerrycan, Hi-Lift jack and more. If you haven’t already seen one of these, you should check out the videos on the Traxxas website.

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So if 50 is not the age at which one grows up, what is? My dad assures me it’s not 84. Sure, he complains from time to time that his body doesn’t let him do all the things he could do as an 18 year old, but assures me his mind is still that of a youngster.

I reckon there’s good reason for this; in all his years he has never stopped doing the things he loves, such as fishing, travelling, playing tennis, reading sci-fi books and tinkering with his tinnie. So long as we maintain the passion and keep doing the things we love to do, I don’t reckon we ever have to grow up. I’m certainly not planning to.