AUSTRALIA’S most popular out-of-town visitor, Channel 7 Sunrise weather presenter Grant Denyer, was in Gympie yesterday, saying g’day and helping give the weather report.
He readily handed the actual reporting over to Gympie schoolgirl Erica Hickmont, who began her media career with a national television debut.
And he was even more glad to hand over the car repairs associated with his great Queensland Kombi road trip. They became the volunteer mission of good Samaritans, Peter Weller from Gympie Central Service Centre and Ian Hoy from Savanna Auto Electrical. “We’ve blown the headlights three times,” Grant said.
“I RAN out of petrol yesterday, so I know now that the fuel gauge doesn’t work,” Grant explained as he signed autographs at Gympie’s Lake Alford yesterday morning.
Ex-racing driver Grant is driving around the state in the exact opposite of a racing car, a 1969 Kombi, which he describes as the iconic backpackers’ travel vehicle.
Asked by this former Kombi owner if he was carrying the standard survival kit – two spare engines and a fire extinguisher – he laughed and explained that, as far as he is concerned, there will always be something special about Kombis.
“I love cars. I’ve raced them since I was young,” he said.
“I always wanted to drive a classic car around Australia and the classic Australian camping-touring car is the Kombi.
“There’s something really cool about Kombis,” he said.
“The fuel gauge shows half a tank all the time and there are other issues like that.
“It’s a challenge and you have to actually drive it every minute, but that’s part of the charisma of driving a classic car.
“It’s the 60th anniversary of the Kombi this year,” he said.
Grant’s Queensland tour has not exactly been smooth sailing so far, aside from the mechanical-electrical problems which Gympie tradespeople cured for him yesterday.
“The regulator wasn’t working and it was overcharging. That blew the bulbs.
“It’s all fixed now,” he said gratefully.
“We were on the side of the road yesterday near Beerburrum, embarrassingly close to our starting point in Brisbane.
“This was a big thrill to all the people who drove past and beeped.
“One truckie even put it out on his radio so all the trucks beeped.
“No-one stopped with petrol though,” he said.
Through the miracle of modern pharmacology, hardly anyone yesterday would have realised how sick their favourite weather presenter was, having caught a stomach bug at the Gold Coast on Sunday.
A spokesperson said he had been forced to cancel the rest of the week’s engagements, but would start again on Monday.