Trevor Bones of Southern Cross Travel remembers his wife Penny
We met in 1968 and it was love at first sight for both of us.
I was planning to drive overland to Australia, and Penny asked if she could join me. We left with three other friends in October of 1969 and travelled through Europe and then Asia, before flying from Nepal to Bangkok and eventually on to Perth. Around half of the roads were unsealed then.
In Perth, we shared a house with what became lifetime friends and had a lovely time exploring Perth and the beaches. While there we designed a small brochure, as I had decided that we would start an overland business. It would be based in Australia, as the economy was much better than in the UK.
Eventually we left Perth and drove across the Nullarbor, sleeping under the stars. It was all dirt road then, and a very exciting trip. I think it was here that Penny started her love affair with Australia and the outback.
On arriving in Sydney we chose to live in Kirribilli as Penny said “it has a lovely name.” We visited various travel agents for their views on our overland route and within a few days we had been offered a GSA. We registered Southern Cross Travel in Sydney in 1970.
Penny stayed on in Australia organising the first group, while I arranged vehicles and a film car from the UK. She escorted our first group of 27 people from Sydney to London. We lost her and the group for 10 days, eventually turning up in New Delhi on a train completely black with soot, Penny having spent the three nights sleeping on a luggage rack.
The next few years were the peak period for the overland trips as Afghanistan was still open to travellers. It was all very exciting and most trips would have made an interesting book.
On arriving in England we set up a travel office. As well as the Australia trips, we fitted in a few European and North African ones, which were fun. In 1976, we decided to get married, so escorted our last group to Nepal and then travelled back to London on public transport, lorries, bikes, buses and trains. It was a wonderful trip, with Christmas shopping in Kabul and Salzburg and no responsibility for others.
We married in January and honeymooned in Paris and Singapore en route back to Australia. By now we had been accepted as residents in Australia. We moved between the two countries until 1979 when our first daughter, Petra, arrived. We came back to England via Fiji and Hawaii and built a beautiful house in Sussex with magnificent views, and Penny revelled in making it a home full of love.
Still torn between Australia and the UK (as we were to be all our lives), we took out Australian Citizenship in 1983. Our middle daughter, Jennifer, was born in Manly where we had decided to live by the harbour. We fell in love with Manly and Sydney, and Penny adored it there. She was always very emotional when we visited or left this beautiful place where we had spent so many happy years.
In 1984 Penny decided to make Southern Cross Travel a specialist destination agency for Australia and New Zealand. She joined the Aussie Specialist scheme the first year it operated and became a Premium Aussie Specialist when that was made available. She attended all the functions and seemed to always be disappearing to some part of Australia or New Zealand.