By Pauline Prentice
Mary Taylor stepped into my world when I was once again working in Port Hedland (at the then, Best Western Hospitality Inn.)
I instantly wondered why this petite, articulate and polite elderly lady was travelling through Port Hedland, alone.
During the course of Marys stay I had the privilege of discovering a little of Marys life and travels. I was mesmerized by her zest for life, her refusal to live in fear and her incredible passion for our beautiful continent.
Mary encapsulated all I believe about life. I simply stood there amazed and just had to hug her telling her how amazing she was and what an inspiration she was. My travels pale in comparison to Marys.
Her driving skills, commendable. When people comment how brave I am to travel as I have done for many years around Australia, alone, I tell them about Mary. Why, because Mary showed many of us that we each have the ability to make choices in life. We can choose to sit and wonder or to go out and fully experience life. I did so, and was fortunate to meet with Mary along the way.
On another occasion when working in Dunsborough, WA (Managing the Best Western Dunsborough) Mary and I crossed paths once again. Mary was due to arrive in her Yellow Honda Jazz for a few days to visit her family members there for Christmas.
We were delighted that we had the opportunity to catch up again. In anticipation of her arrival, I wondered how Mary had been doing and was pleased to see upon her arrival, she was still very much into life. Mary looked well and in good spirits, brimming with her sense of adventure, still very agile and her mind as active as ever.
I discovered that Mary had undertaken and passed an Advanced Driving Course to satisfy herself and any naysayers that she was still capable of continuing her driving adventures. She was a regular guest on Glenn Wheelers radio program over many years and conducted many interviews with him to talk about her travels.
Mary Taylor in her Honda Formula One jacket 021
We made arrangements to have breakfast together the following mid morning. We both talked about our favourite places like Auski Roadhouse, the wildflower season, our favourite areas etc.
The time I had with Mary that daywill remain with me for life. Her concentration and full attention on our conversation amongst a busy modern caf environment, her clear thoughts, and her viewpoint on worldly issues or society today made for a thought provoking discussion.
Sadly for Mary, for whom the North West of WA was a favourite area, the difficulty in getting accommodation because of the mining boom, had made it much harder to visit.
I had the pleasure thanks to GoSee to trace Mary and tell her how much she had impacted my life in many ways unbeknown to her. To be able to tell her how special she was has been a life altering moment for me.
Her sudden but peaceful death just three weeks after our last contact, has left me with a special Star in the night sky. I hope to continue in seeing as much of Australia as possible and have plans for the desert tracks next to meet with the many who live in these areas and the lifestyle they enjoy.
It is only ever when one returns to the cement of the cities that you miss the amazing beauty of our continent. Only then does one truly appreciate what a magical and diverse country we have.
Bless you Mary for your wisdom, love and all the hearts you have touched along your journeys
I thank you.
Postscript: Mary Taylor died peacefully in Clare, SA, on 3 November 2011 at the age of 93. She moved to Clare from Mornington, Victoria, in January 2011 as she felt the need for a new adventure and spent most of her time creating a beautiful garden at the back of her new unit, in what was really an extension of the nearby Flinders Ranges.
She was as happy in Clare as she had been anywhere and was working in her garden on the day she died, a perfect ending to a wonderful life. Her family have scattered her ashes, as was her wish, in many of the places around Australia that she loved best so, to our mind, she is travelling still.
Mary Taylor ready for the road 050
With the help of Honda Australia GoSee records on the road thoughts on her extended touringexperiencesfrom Mary Taylor -
June the 21st on the day of what will probably be my last great adventure, here's my car, all loaded up.
Now I am leaving.
I was 74 when I did my first run.
When I first suggested this crazy idea that I would drive all the way around Australia by myself, my youngest grand-daughter, she would have been about five, came over and said - this morning daddy said to mummy should we allow granny to do this? (laughter).
Mary's 21 trips were each about 15,000km over about six weeks and she loved to drive:
See Editors' Note with this story-
The Nullabor Plain - Just lovely.
Eucla to Norseman - Beautiful landscape.
Half way between Port Hedland and Broome - The lovely road has a soothing affect on me.
It is impossible to experience the size of this country unless you do it with your hand on the steering wheel and your foot on the accelerator and the road goes on and on.
Kunnunura to Timber Creek - There are no speed limits in the Northern Territory everybody drives to the road, traffic and the driver's capability. In places like Victoria people have the feeling that if the speed limit is 100kmh that is the speed they should drive at. In the NT everybody drives to the conditions. I think the NT is a far safer place to drive. People have not had to put up with unsuitable speed limits.
Timber Creek to Katherine - The cost of petrol has not stopped people driving around Oz.
Katherine to Darwin - Cruising at 140kmh. I have tested the cruise control at 150kmh.
Darwin to Mataranka - This is my snazzy hat. I have to get a feather to put in my hatband.
Tennant Creek to Alice Springs - I am getting an amazing number of hugs on this tour. I don't know why I have suddenly become huggable?
It is only a short run today 510 km, locals drive Darwin to Alice Springs, 1500km in 24 hours.
Darwin to Alice Springs - For every small child developing a feeling for our land should be part of their education.
Heading for McKinlay Queensland - The Barkly Highway is the loneliest highway. I like empty plains or rugged mountain landscapes. I like to go off to wild places.
Nyngan NSW to Broken Hill - I thought what if I just kept on going and one day I did.
It is the nicest thing in the world to be driving the car in the Outback, all that lovely nothing, but there is plenty of stuff if you really look - it is not really nothing.
Editors Note: Also see -
Mary Taylor's comments on driving at up to 150kmh in the NT were made on a driving experience before 2007.
Mary made her first Around Australia drive when she was 75 in 1994 and continued her adventures until just before her death at 93 in 2011.
There was no absolute speed limit in the Northern Territory before 1 January 2007. Drivers were required to drive at a safe speed to suit the conditions. The Northern Territory used derestriction signs to indicate unlimited limits until 2007, when an open road default limit of 110 kph (68 mph) was introduced, along with 130 kph (81 mph) limits on the Territory's four major highways.
Australian states and territories use two default speed limits.
The default speed limits are:
Within built-up areas, 50 kilometres per hour (31 mph), except for the Northern Territory which remains at 60 kilometres per hour (37 mph) outside built-up areas, 100 kilometres per hour (62 mph); two exceptions are Western Australia and the Northern Territory at 110 kilometres per hour (68 mph).
The Stuart, Arnhem, Barkly and Victoria highways in the Northern Territory are zoned 130 kilometres per hour (81 mph). Speed limits are enforced in almost all areas of the Australia including the Northern Territory. Tolerance is from 8 percent to 10 percent in most states but only 3 kmh in Victoria,
The Australian Design Rules specify that vehicle speedometers may have up to 10 percent leeway in accuracy which makes the Victorian 3kmh position a matter of debate.