My parents became tree-changers in the late 1950s, before the term was invented. After dad left the Army he had become a sales representative for a printer in
Newcastle, but one day a chance meeting with a friend of a friend convinced him that he and mum could become poultry farmers. So they did. They built a shed in the back yard, filled it with newly-invented cages (for this was well before the days of free-range eggs, stall-free bacon etc), and dad become a part-time poultry farmer. But after a few years Newcastle City Council advised them that 600 hens on a 380m² suburban block was far too many, so they loaded up the truck and moved the hens and the family to an uninhabited bush-covered 1.4 hectares in what I thought was Woop Woop, but was only a 30 minute bus trip from town.
We didn’t have a car when we first moved, but poultry farmers need a vehicle to carry feed and deliver eggs, so one day dad drove up our long, steep driveway in a new FC Holden Special station sedan. Then followed a succession of station sedans (for their carrying capacity and tax deductibility), always either two-tone blue or blue with a white roof. We skipped a few models – the EJ and the HK, the HT or HG – but the most exciting of all their Holdens was a V8-powered HQ Premier station wagon.
For the first decade or so a garage was a low priority, so the cars were parked under the stars (and the Hills Hoist) where they always gathered a coat of dust.
When my brother and I were tall enough, washing the station wagon became our main source of income. We could manage the EH and its predecessors easily, but negotiated a higher rate of pay for the HD by convincing dad that it was so bulbous that it took more of our precious teenage time.
But despite the tyre-smoking grunt of the HQ my favourite of all mum and dad’s Holdens was the EH 179 manual Special wagon. On paper it doesn’t sound
very inspiring: 115bhp (86kw) at 4,000rpm from 2.9 litres, with top speed of around 156kmh. But it was the first Holden that could be considered exciting, and
being followed by the unjustly maligned HD only made it more desirable.
When my parents retired they took up beach fishing, and their favourite spot was at South West Rocks. Then as now it was a popular beach for four-wheel
driving, and as all the best spots were only accessible by four-wheel drives they bought the first of many Toyota Land Cruisers, an FJ55, and nearly twenty
years of Holden ownership was followed by another twenty years of Land Cruisers. Mum at South West Rocks with one of their Land
Cruisers and a day’s catch of bream. For a year or so after the EH was traded in on the HD my dream car was an EH Premier Sedan with 179 engine, bucket seats and metallic paint. I soon grew out of this childish fantasy, of course, but whenever I see a well-restored EH I mentally congratulate its owner for having such good taste and discernment.