It’s funny how times that can seem so bad when you are in them, can become memories which you build your life and happiness around…
My brother Jan and I are twins, originally from Germany, we came to Melbourne a couple of years ago. We play in a band called Amistat and we were booked to play a show in the Victorian town of Wangaratta on the 31st December 2013… New Years Eve.
We got offered accommodation for the night but decided to stay with some friends who live just over an hour out of Wangaratta so that we could spend New Year’s with them. We decided to drive up a bit early to make sure we get a sound check done and maybe squeeze in some dinner.
It was a beautiful little set up just by the river with chairs, food , fairy lights and good vibes. Our set went great and after finishing at around 10PM, we left straight away to make sure we’d make it to our friends place in Yarrawonga in time for the New Year’s count down!
Now being a band who busks for a living there is only one form of transportation that we could use… a 15-year-old yellow van with over half a million km’s on the display, although it makes it kind of hard to keep up with the speed regulations sometimes. Nevertheless we made it just in time for the countdown and spent a great night with our friends.
As we are making a living out of busking, we had a spot locked in for the follow morning in Melbourne city. We had planned on getting up very early to make it in time but somehow around 4 am in the morning we both decided we would just leave now so we could maybe get a couple of hours rest at home before heading out to busk.
We left Yarrawonga at 4am for the 3.5 hour trip to make it to the city ready to busk at around 10 am… Half an hour into the trip we noticed the fuel level was below 1/3 of a tank and that would never even get us close to Melbourne.
Being in the middle of nowhere at that point all we hoped for was a petrol station. Another 30 minutes had gone by and we had passed at least 3 petrol stations but being 5am on New Years Day they had all been closed.
After going slightly off course to try to find an open station we got lost on some kind of dirt road and started to get more and more worried and exhausted from not sleeping.
Falling half asleep, having those little micro-sleeps that they talk about, we got the freight of our lives and well and truly woken by a kangaroo that had jumped across the road and decided to stop right in front of our van!
We were going around 90km/h and Jan had to slam the brakes hard to just miss the kangaroo by centimetres!! It was so close that we could see the kangaroo’s blinking eyes looking at us and thinking “What the hell are you two Germans doing?”
Thinking it couldn’t get worse we kept on driving still hoping to find a petrol station.
After driving 1.5 hours with the fuel level being on 0 it was only a matter of time till we would break down in the middle of nowhere. We were getting closer and closer to a town called Benalla, we thought that surely there would be an open petrol station there… About 2 km before reaching the town we heard the splutter of the engine trying to use the last of its fuel and then… we broke down.
Both of our phones were flat so we couldn’t even call for help. We looked at each other, defeated. We both nodded and knew instantly what had to be done. We got out and pushed the old van the last couple of kilometres into town.
After an exhausting push, we were buggered. We saw our destination ahead and gave one last big effort… when we reached the petrol station however, we were disheartened to find it closed as well.
The only option we had was to wait until the morning, it was 6am already and we thought it shouldn’t be too long. After a couple of hours of much-needed sleep, suddenly a man showed up and opened the doors to the station. What a relief!
We filled up the van with petrol and got on the road again and were on the way home.
At this point we couldn’t see the point in going home to get changed so we went we decided to head straight into the city to busk. We were still in the close from the night before but the adrenaline was taking over at this point and we were riding it.
Getting into the city at 10am, we set up and busked the whole day! The feeling in the city was amazing and so many people came to watch us play that our minds were soon far away from our troubles of the early morning. Everyone was in that “New Years” spirit and we got big rounds of applause after every song. It was such a pleasure and the best day we have ever had in Melbourne busking.
Thinking back, those frustrating moments of running out petrol and having to push together only made our bond stronger. I can’t imagine a better way to spend New Years. I got to spend it with my brother, travelling through the Victorian countryside creating memories that we would never forget.
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