Flooded roads no problem for John

John and Naomi Summers drive home by road after cruising up the Noosa River in their amphibious vehicle.
John and Naomi Summers drive home by road after cruising up the Noosa River in their amphibious vehicle. Geoff Potter

RECENT downpours have kept a lot of motorists off the road, but they are just the excuse John Summers needs to go for a drive, err ... cruise.

Mr Summers made the most of the extra water flowing into the Noosa River yesterday to take his vintage military amphibious vehicle on a trip from Tewantin to the Boathouse floating restaurant and bar at Noosaville.

"I only use it in freshwater, not saltwater, so after the big rains is the perfect time to put it in," he said.

Mr Summers, 76, bought the 1943 Ford GPA from a second-hand car yard in 1967, after ogling one on a neighbour's farm in South Australia.

"I thought it would be a useful thing to get away on the weekends camping," he said.

He and his wife, Naomi, had only been married a year, but the marriage survived both the Ford and the camping trips.

Two years ago, Mr Summers and his wife made a two-week, 310km journey down the Murray River in the Ford with a small group of similar vehicles.

He estimated there were only about 20 of the amphibious vehicles left in Australia, making his purchase "in a fit of madness" 47 years ago a good investment. "It's become quite a collector's item," he said.

Mr Summers said the vehicles were built for use during World War Two and sold out of the army in 1946.

What the vehicle did in the 20 years before he bought it is a mystery but he has spent plenty of time "mucking around with it."

He said the vehicle was fairly simple and similar to a Jeep, with a few additions, such as a propeller and bilge pump.

With a top speed of 8km an hour, cruising is best done downstream, and after pulling in at the Boathouse yesterday, the Summers drove home.

Mr Summers is planning another river ramble later this year, but not with his wife. She will travel with a friend to Bali, which, funnily enough, she considered a better offer.

Topics:  floods noosa river

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