This post is written as an addendum to my post of two days ago about the mysterious California Highway Patrol car seen in regional Australia. 12,700 kilometres (8,000 miles) away from the freeways of the west coast of the USA. It would help give context to the rest of this article if you read that too. Up to you of course. The link is above.
The well known phrase six-degrees-of-separation was first penned as a theory by the Hungarian writer Karinthy in 1929 and has since made its way into the modern day vernacular. It’s had a play named after it and has even be tested, most famously by sociologist Stanley Milgram in the 1960s. Apparently it even seemed to work(ish).
Just to clarify. Wikipedia, that font of truth, summarises the theory as…
Six degrees of separation is the theory that everyone and everything is six or fewer steps away, by way of introduction, from any other person in the world
That’s all well and good but the experience I had, and retell below, makes six degrees look about as slow as death by a thousand cuts.
About twelve hours on Facebook was it all it took to find the mysterious ‘ghosts’ I wrote about in my original tale. Let me explain.
A UFO moment.
About a month ago now I had a wonderful and restful escape from the city. I stayed in a beautiful part of regional Australia, about an hour north west of Melbourne in a gorgeous renovated church.
My days were spent cycling, wandering, gazing, sipping, nibbling, resting and stargazing. And it was in this state of lethargy and relaxation that I first spied something that made me think, at first, that I may have been dreaming or had fallen into some kind of holiday-induced coma.
Before me in an adjacent field of sunburned hay bales was a California Highway Patrol car. Now I must point out that from where I sat Los Angeles was roughly 13,000 kilometres away. Yet there before my eyes was a CHP car driving madly around the field like a dog trying to grab its own tail . I rubbed my eyes and thought – um is this really happening?
Suddenly I realised that in fact I wasn’t comatose, and knowing full well that the glass that I was drinking from contained water and not gin I sprinted into the church (my AirBnb residence) to get my SLR camera. I thought for sure no one would believe this without pictorial evidence, mainly because I didn’t quite believe it myself!
It took what seemed like an eternity to find and fit my long lens. The action was taking place far enough away to ensure that a smartphone or my normal 24 – 105ml lens wouldn’t do the business. I may have even uttered a hopeful prayer or two to the nearest deity to keep the action going long enough so that I could photograph it.
I was in a bit of a fluster. Now I know why all those purported UFO videos are always so shaky! Thankfully though I emerged back outside into the stark dusk sunlight to see the black and white motorised beast still thrashing about in and out of the hay bales trailing clouds of dust behind it.
Click, click, click went the shutter on my camera as I tracked one of the most surreal scenes I’d even witnessed.
Got it! (Click an image to enlarge)
This was certainly a surprise to me. These were the words that Jenni the owner of the property used when I asked her if she’d ever seen the car before. Did I detect a very, very subtle step back and away from me as she responded. I would too if a virtual stranger staying in my farm house in Victoria, Australia asked me…
“Um, have you ever seen a Los Angeles police car writhing around in the field opposite your house before?”
Lucky for me I had the photos didn’t I… Phew. And that “phew” I think came mainly from Jenni!
The search begins.
I published my post about this on my blog mid afternoon on the 5th of January. I also posted a link to the post on Facebook that same evening.
At the end of my original post – mainly tongue in cheek – I asked my readers, those Sherlock Holmes’ out there, if they could solve the mystery of the ‘ghost car’. I had only given scant clues. These were pretty much just…
- The photos
- The location – Yandoit, Victoria.
Yandoit is a tiny hamlet in regional Victoria with one main street, a handful of houses (a bush fire razed most of the village to the ground in the 1960s) and not even a store.
Tag – you’re it.
Very shortly after I had posted a link on Facebook things started happening. Quickly I found out that this car – and others like it – were known colloquially around the countryside as ‘Paddock Bombs‘. Old cars that were brought back to life to race around fields and donut around hay bales. Sounded like great fun!
After only about an hour I found out that this car was most probably a RT104 Toyota Corona.
Shortly thereafter I found out that it was in fact a Toyota and that it had been hand-painted by the ‘Yandoit Highway Patrol’. Hmmm, I was getting closer and so rapidly! I had never really expected to find out the answer to the mystery and certainly not so quickly. It was an incredible example of the viral reach and community breadth of Facebook.
I then noticed a few comments appearing just as tags and wondered if we were getting even closer to finding who our ghost car owners were. And then it happened!
Was the comment on our Thirty Summers Facebook page along with this image. We’d found our ghost(s)!
Less than 12 hours after posting the mystery to Facebook with absolutely zero connection whatsoever to the owners of the CHP car Officer Melissa from the Yandoit Highway Patrol had been in contact. Pretty amazing really.
Our only connection pre-Facebook being that we lived in the same country. So I guess the starting odds were around 23 million-to-one.
More amazing still is Officer Melissa’s kind offer of a ride on one of their paddock ‘patrols’ if I’m in the area again. I just might take her up on that although having seen how they drive I think that glass might just need to be filled with gin and not water this time around!