In 1973 my parents drove my two sisters, brother and I from Canberra to Perth to spend Christmas with our grandparents. Before we set off we were given Shell travel passports. Every time we stopped at a Shell service station they would be stamped, often with an image designed to represent the region. I found this unbelievably exciting as a six-yearold and could barely restrain myself from jumping out of the moving car as it pulled into a station. The towns we travelled through were exotic to us — Coolgardie, Caiguna, Ceduna — and the official passports made the adventure feel even grander.
These passports represent a travel experience that has been lost. The days of watching the desert go by on long stretches of road with hot vinyl seats and windows wound all the way down are largely a thing of the past thanks to DVD players and air-conditioning. It was a rough trip across the Nullabor back then, but I wouldn’t have swapped it for the world.