1 (edited by Michael McDermott 05-Jun-2011 11:57:07)

Topic: Capricorn Tour P37 1979

This Capricorn / Sundowners tour had a series of adventures / misadventures. It started by the driver having a sacred calf go under the coach (a bad idea in Nepal, but the driver, Carl, was a shrewd negotiator). We got to Jammu when Benazir Bhutto had just been executed in Pakistan, causing massive riots. Luckily for us, we avoided trouble on the way to Kashmir by meeting a Penn Overland bus (driven by my friend Peter Ward) on the way down from there with several windows smashed, and Peter also beaten up. We turned back and went up at night time instead, and got through safely. We were able to watch the rioters from the safety of the houseboats. Later, we were robbed in the Khyber Pass, but while the group went on to Kabul, I went back to the scene of the incident with two members of the Pakistani Frontier Police, and the Afridis gave us back everything. Then we had to fly to Istanbul to avoid Iran during its revolution, and were picked up on the other side by Bruce "Budgie" Jacobs with Lyn Marshall in a Sundowners Bus (Capricorn had just merged with Sundowners). We then backtracked to then Middle East, flew to Egypt from Athens, then back to Europe, a hovercraft crossing to London, and the trip's conclusion.

Back Row: Our guide, Jan Trickel,  Charmaine & Frank Swientek, Wayne Kubal, Margy Archer, Malcolm McGown, Cathy Croci, Annette Dynes

Centre Row: Tim Pavy, Barbara Zakus, Debbie Pettingill, Anne Lonergan, Ana Wooler, Rhonda Martin, Sally Still, Jenny Ward, Elizabeth Tozer.

Front Row: Margaret Petty, Jan Greenwood, Steve Heys, Marie-Therese Bongers, Carl Capstick (Driver), Christine Lonergan, Wendy Pullen, Jennie Pietsch, Lee Kennedy, Denise Geddes.

Absent: Terry Martin.
Absent: Mike McDermott (Courier)

Re: Capricorn Tour P37 1979

Wrong Bhutto above. I meant Zulfikar Ali, not his daughter Benazir.

It's pretty useless to wonder how things would be now if he hadn't been assassinated, but surely it could not have been any worse?

Re: Capricorn Tour P37 1979

Carl spent quite a bit of time in India after this trip, running backwards and forwards between Karachi and Kathmandu.
He managed to look after his Seddon bus with 2 large adjustable spanners, and a hammer.
When it arrived back in London it was spotless.

His wife to be, Anna, was on this trip.

They live in Auckland


4 (edited by Michael McDermott 05-Jun-2011 11:57:41)

Re: Capricorn Tour P37 1979

My wife to be, Anne, was on that trip as well. Anne and Ana are together near the middle of the Taj photo. So the driver and courier met their lifetime partners on that trip, and a couple of other couples who first met on that trip are still together as well.

Lee Kennedy, the bearded guy near the bottom right of the photo, organised a digital reunion in 2009 to mark the 30th anniversary. He managed to catch up with most, but not all, of the group. It is thanks to him that I had the Taj photo, as he scanned the trip book and circulated it to everyone he could find.

Carl was wonderful, both with the coach and with the passengers.

5 (edited by Michael McDermott 05-Jun-2011 12:00:10)

Re: Capricorn Tour P37 1979

I did not take any of these photos; they are a co-operative post by several P37ers.


The start, Kathmandu; Therese, Chris, Ana, Sally, Annette.


Carl checking for any stray squashed sacred cows


Carl letting Mike know that no, Pakistan was not invading India.


The Golden Temple, Amritsar; a beautiful and peaceful place


At the Golden Temple, we would buy Sikh bangles, called karas. It became a way of overlanders recognising one another. Here Sally shows off her new kara.


Once we went up by night and avoided the riots over Bhutto's execution, we were able to enjoy the beauties of Kashmir without incident.


Onward into Pakistan, and to a north-west frontier town called Darra. Here "Annie Oakley" goes shopping.


Onward through the Khyber!!


There we met some friendly Kochi nomads, and some at first unfriendly Afridis. Which was fair enough from their perspective. All's well that ends well.


From Kabul, we caught an Ariana Airlines flight to Istanbul. From there, we made our way south.


This is the spiral minaret of Samarra, in Iraq.


This photo was taken in the no-man's land between the Iraq and Jordan, where we freecamped one night, and drank gallons of Drambuie. The birds there had no fear of us, and would perch on our fingers and shoulders. They had reason to fear each other, though, as this photo shows.


It is a fact not widely known, because it is untrue, that exactly 2,000 years before our visit to Petra in 1979, King Aretas III had opened the inaugural Petran Games in an attempt to rival the Olympic Games. While it never became popular

6 (edited by Michael McDermott 05-Jun-2011 11:56:03)

Re: Capricorn Tour P37 1979

Thanks for putting the Parthenon photo back in order!

7 (edited by Michael McDermott 05-Jun-2011 11:56:32)

Re: Capricorn Tour P37 1979

That's better!

Re: Capricorn Tour P37 1979

The above was posted shortly after we learnt that Sally was suffering from cancer. I believe that it is safe to assume that everyone on P37 wished her a speedy recovery, but the post above was stimulated by not only my concern, but also of those strongly expressed to me (in alphabetical order) by Ana, Anne, Charmaine, Christine, Jan (Greenwood), Lee, and Therese. Photo contributions include those of Anne, Christine, Jan, and Lee (I took none of them).

Sally lost her battle on Monday, May 23.

As quoted by islandguy from the poem of A E Houseman in the Chit Chat section, those happy highways where we went cannot come again. But at least we went on them, and our lives are so much richer for that. Not only for the places we went, the adventures we had and the things we saw along those highways, but also - and especially - for coming to know the people we travelled them with.

So to me at least, the air from the far countries along the India Overland is not, in Houseman's words, an "air that kills" from "lost content"; it is an air of content that it happened at all.

In Memoriam, Sally.

Re: Capricorn Tour P37 1979

I received the photo of our friends at Petra from Steve Hays.
Thanks, Steve.

10 (edited by Michael McDermott 04-Jun-2011 12:43:12)

Re: Capricorn Tour P37 1979

A week or so ago, I posted a thank you to islandguy on the Chit Chat string here about saving me from having to look for, or even write (gulp), a poem to post on this string. This morning I was rummaging through some papers and happened to find the copy I had made of P37's trip book (Lee had scanned and distributed it). I looked at the pages where we had been in 1979 at the same time of year as Sally's passing. Between May 21-23 (the entry was undated), I found there the poem below by James Elroy Flecker (who only lived from 1884 to 1915, and was a friend of Lawrence of Arabia's).

So I now think it belongs here in that context, and also in following up on the conversation Kit, I and others were having about the different kinds of people who travelled the overland. As in this poem, for example, they included many different kinds including those dressed in rags with rotten shoes and dirty bearded, but we called them hippies. In the poem they were Pilgrims; in 1979, some hippies were also pilgrims, but some of us were too.

The Golden Journey to Samarkand

We who with songs beguile your pilgrimage
And swear that Beauty lives though lilies die,
We Poets of the proud old lineage
Who sing to find your hearts, we know not why

What shall we tell you? Tales, marvellous tales
Of ships and stars and isles where good men rest,
Where nevermore the rose of sunset pales,
And winds and shadows fall toward the West:

And there the world

Re: Capricorn Tour P37 1979

" The Tour Leader'

Come now, load up, take your places
Everyone must lend a hand
Let's free our souls of life's cruel traces
Our next campsite is Samarkand.......

with apologies etc to J E Flecker....!!!

Re: Capricorn Tour P37 1979

;-). No apologies necessary, tzbrit. Eat your heart out, James Elroy.

Re: Capricorn Tour P37 1979

Well, here I am in Samarkand.

Via a potholed road, not a golden one, but that's OK; it's quite a town.

Re: Capricorn Tour P37 1979

Derek, while I was happy to see that this post has just passed the 10,000 hits mark, I note that the last half of the account of the trip has disappeared. Any chance of its recovery?

Re: Capricorn Tour P37 1979

A few “small world” coincidences concerning that poem, relating to the “kangaroo-hopping” of the overland that was big news in the time between the world wars.

On a later overland, I came across the Baron Hotel in Aleppo, where both James Elroy Flecker and Lawrence of Arabia had stayed, and my and a few other overland groups stayed there in 1980, the last of the Sundowners/Capricorn overlands that went to Syria.

Since the posts above, I have found that descendants of the Fleckers who ran the South Australian Hotel, and who trained my grandmother in the hotel business and who were the only non-relatives she kept photos of, claim to be related to J. E. Flecker. Also, a guy who grew up in the house I now live in was in the ground crew of Sir Ross Smith, who during World War I used to shuttle Lawrence of Arabia to and from behind enemy lines.

Sir Ross and his brother Sir Keith later became the first to fly from England to Australia, and were knighted for that: (https://www.adelaidenow.com.au/news/sou … 7921c4ba02).

Sir Ross was killed a couple of years later, but inspired a nephew of the guy who lived here to become a pioneer aviator too. That kid, Jimmy Melrose, became “the youngest competitor in the 1934 MacRobertson London-Melbourne air race and the only Australian to finish. Melrose made the record solo flight from Australia to England in 8 days and 9 hours and came third on handicap” (https://monumentaustralia.org.au/themes … 60-melrose). Like Sir Ross, he, too was killed when his plane crashed, and 100,000 people turned out for his funeral in Melbourne.