Topic: Swaggy Passengers

This came in from Larry Halpin:

How are you mate?

You probably don't remember me but we (wife Helen & I) were passengers on your eastbound trip in September '76.  I was the Londoner who kept the float & Helen was the nice one who got the shits in west Pakistan & you dug out some bottled water you had been saving.

I've just started transferring all my old slides from that trip to digital which of course got me reminiscing so I decided to google "Asian Greyhound" & there you were.
I won't crap on too much now but I'd love to hear from you. 
Now I'll explore the rest of the site - brilliant so far & I've only looked at the pictures of the buses & the crews & passengers list!!

The only things of note involving us was when I leant some money to another couple just before we crossed a border & the girl was going to repay it all in coins as they wouldn't be able to change them anyway - you stepped in & suggested it might not be a good idea.  We also were one of the ones who stayed with you when the other bus that had been travelling with us took some of us to see some temples - can't remember the full story but they could only take so many, then when they returned there was some heated argument about the kitty money & things became a bit fractured for the last few days - basically the seppos against the rest.

All the very best Larry

PS  You've changed a bit.  I remember meeting up with you & the courier (can't remember her name) in Melbourne & you kept getting stared at by everybody because you were the image of Bruce Doull (the AFL player called 'the flying doormat')

Re: Swaggy Passengers

This came in from Jan

Hi Derek

The driver of my trip leaving end of Sept 76 was Geoff Lawrence.  We had a very wet start through Europe and the rain pursued us into Turkey - didn't dry out (in more than one sense!) until Eastern Turkey.  It was a good crew - quite a few Aussies (including Fred who we picked up on the Continent somewhere and who teamed up with another Jan).  There were three Jans all in the same tent - me, Aussie Jan and Janice, a nurse from London I think.  Apart from the Brits, there was an older Canadian couple called Shirley and Bill, a German called Heidi, a big silent Dane called Hans and a well travelled New Zealander called Mary, who joined the trip later on.
It was a very sociable bunch.  I was the youngest at 18 and the eldest was a retired Scot called Ian who kept in contact with his secretary from the remotest places!
We all stayed together for Christmas in Kathmandu and then I and a girl called Nikki headed back to Delhi to fly home only to discover there were no plane tickets waiting.  We had a hair-raising couple of weeks with very little money trying to contact Asian Greyhound, home etc only to be told AG had gone bust!  It was a long saga but both of us did eventually get home.
All the best Jan

Re: Swaggy Passengers

This from Elizabeth Baker:

Hi Derek
I was a Swagman passenger from London to Katmandu in 1973.  I was on a bus driven by Bob (Ashford?) and John.  Must have been John Witchard, but the photo on his website doesn't look like the John I remember, so perhaps it was John Cridge.  John had to transfer to another bus part-way through the trip, so for a while, Bob was on his own.  I have just retired and at last have a chance to collate all my letters, photos and diaries into some sort of readable whole.  This project has only just begun, so it will be a while before it is complete.  I was wondering whether Swagman Tours still existed, so typed "Swagman Overland Tours" into my browser, and up came your wonderful website!  All the photos taken on my trip were slides, so I have just splashed-out on a new scanner which will copy these, so I was delighted today to discover a site where I can email these to be enjoyed by others and not just kept in a box in a cupboard.  Just looking at your pictures brings back so many wonderful memories.

I loved reading all the drivers' experiences, particularly the one about the dog.  Not sure if some were yours or another Derek's.  Yes our John did have a South European look about him - very good looking.  You're right - I was on one of three buses which set-out together at the beginning of September 1973.  I must have met you somewhere then.  It's amazing now reading all my old letters - really interesting - like something written by another as most of the experiences I don't recall at all.  Perhaps my photos will jog the memories a bit.  I only bought the new scanner in January and have tried it on half-a-dozen non-Swagman slides.  They came up fine.  As you say, it was slow, but there's no panic and I can concentrate on just three or four a day.  I think I've got about 200 altogether - I just hope they havn't faded too much.  That's interesting about the projector method.  I'd heard that was how the photography businesses do it, but my screen is so wavey I think the results might appear distorted.  Worth a  try though.  I've been concentrating on the written account for the moment, having borrowed a lot of letters back from an old boyfriend of that time with whom, luckily, I'm still in touch.  After cutting-out the personal bits, it reads back quite well.  Then I will insert relevant extracts from my diaries and letters home.  The three separate sources, plus photos, should cope with most gaps in the information.  It's taking quite a time and it's amazing how much I wrote, but I'm so glad at last to be bringing it all back to life.  I remember at the end of our journey you Swagman people encouraged us to write-up our experiences, and I always wanted to, but once back in the rat race the time was just not available.

Liz Baker

Re: Swaggy Passengers

Sent to John Witchard ex Swagman Driver

Dear John

This contact no doubt comes a complete surprise after decades but I found your details recently through Derek's terrific website - surely a labour of love.

You may remember my wife Barbara and I travelled with you from Feb 74.  We then lived in England for 3 years and since returned to Sydney where we have been at Eastwood for the past 22
(The Swagman trip of Feb 1974 from Katmandu took the traditional route but through northern Iran to Turkey and Greece.)

Derek - many thanks for the site.  I am interested in purchasing some DVDs and shall follow up.
Cheers David Edmonds

Re: Swaggy Passengers

Swagman Reminiscing

I discovered your internet site some months ago when searching for my own name on the internet.
I now live and work in Brisbane, Queensland after moving to Queensland from Newcastle NSW after returning from Britain via the Swagman tour to Kathmandu plus a bit of overland and flying form Kathmandu to Sydney via Thailand, Malaysia, Singapore and Indonesia (including Bali).

Life in Queensland has been good with homes made in Mackay, Bundaberg and Brisbane and the opportunity through work to see much of the Queensland coast. Most of that time has been as part of the sugar industry and the remainder in minerals related engineering.

I established friendships with Kerry Potts, Barry Pickett and John Elphinstone while on the Swagman adventure and still correspond with them. John is in England, Barry in New York and Kerry in Sydney. Like me all are now married and well settled and either retired or near retirement.

I see Kerry occasionally and we still do a bit of Swagman reminiscing, although my memory is much less than Kerry's.

Thanks for the website. Keep up the good work. Regards Grahame Sawyer

Re: Swaggy Passengers

Swagman Westbound May 1975
Hi Derek,

I was truly delighted to find your website. I was a passenger on a westbound Asian Greyhound which left Kathmandu at the end of May 1975. This bus was driven by Clive. All my records and photos of the trip were lost when I mailed them from Dubrovnik, and since this trip was one of the most interesting experiences of my life, it is wonderful to see all the materials which you have accumulated on this website. We left Kathmandu with perhaps 22 people, but the headcount quickly shrank as a combination of summer heat, dust, and dysentery caused a number of people to check into hospital or drop out. As I recall, 4 went into the hospital in Delhi, and another three had given up and flown home by Pakistan or Afghanistan. This gave us plenty of room on the bus! Everyone else on the bus was also sick and dehydrated, but hung in there and began to recover by the time we'd reached Iran. Those of us who toughed it out had a great experience and saw many parts of the world that as you know, have either disappeared through war, or for practical purposes are essentially closed to western travel. Most of the other passengers were Aussies.  I can only remember a few names, Mac, Sandy (Aussies); Kurt (German); a tall blond Norwegian man, who flew home since it wasn't fun; a Canadian married couple; Patrick (not sure of his nationality). I remember more faces than names, though. When the bus got to Dubrovnik, I fell in love with the city and stayed there while the bus went on without me, eventually continuing (overland of course) on to Paris and, eventually, home in California. Thanks for putting this together and I would be very interested in seeing any photos, memories, or souvenirs from others who were on this trip. I consider it one of the formative experiences of my life and it gave me a wanderlust that continues to this day.

Best regards, Steve


Re: Swaggy Passengers

Hello Derek,

I was a passenger on Bob Ashford's bus in Spetember 1973.  I sat opposite Steve and Arnie.  I think I sat next to Shirley, from New Zealand.  I had a wonderful time, I used to play my guitar while Skippy played his squeeze box and Kieran Smith sang.  We sang all over Asia, in ampitheatres or just around camp fires.  I met up with Skippy in Oz and shared a house with him for a while.  Sadly Skippy died a few years ago.  I also made a very good friend called MargaretTelfer and stayed with her in Sydney when I first arrived there.  I think I was very lucky to have had such a lovely bunch of people to travel with, we all started out on our own and became very close after travelling together for 3 months.  I am so grateful for having done the trip when I did because all the wonderful countries we visited then, would have been impossible to visit today. I would love to hear from anyone who was on my bus.
Martha Wasyliw (Beale)