Trabant expedition likely to set out from Perth at weekend

Photo: official TransTrabant website

The “Trabants across Australia and Southeast Asia” expedition appears set to start from Perth at the weekend after the authorities allowed the nine-member crew of Czechs, Poles, and Slovaks access to their vehicles. The cars, sometimes labelled the ‘world’s worst’, were once the apple of the eye of the East German car industry. The team made its name previously using the vehicles to travel across Africa and South America.

Photo: official TransTrabant website
The latest expedition headed by Trabant enthusiast Dan Přibáň has yet to start a 20,000 kilometre journey, including a circuitous route around most of Australia before heading north to Southeast Asia: East Timor, Indonesia, Malaysia, Thailand, Laos, Vietnam and Cambodia. But the group had to wait three weeks to begin. The Trabants, as well as Jawa motorcycles and a Fiat, had to receive approval from the authorities including civil servants at the Agriculture Ministry Czech Radio’s Radiožurnál reported Wednesday. Now, after a three-week delay, the vehicles have been received and the journey is likely to start at the weekend. Expedition leader Dan Přibáň:

“We expected there would be problems but we didn’t think it would take quite this long. We thought we would leave a week earlier but we’ll try and make up the lost time.

Dan Přibáň, photo: Adam Kebrt
“We still have to make a few minor repairs and we have to put up stickers with the names of those who supported us in the crowdfunding project. There is also a question of having some kind of ceremony before we begin but if all goes well we could get on the road on Saturday or Sunday.”

The journey, which was funded by the Czech answer to kickstarter, will take around four months. Along the way, as in the past, members of the expedition will film the adventure, which promises many peripatetic moments, to eventually be turned both into a feature film and a TV series.

Past adventures showed the revamped Soviet-era plastic Trabants – to be remarkably resilient – or if not, at least fairly easy to fix. They may not be the most comfortable cars, Přibáň told Radio Prague in a past interview, but the great thing is that all you need in most situations if something goes wrong is a hammer and a screwdriver. Well, occasionally locals’ help is asked for as well.

The team is now well-known for their yellow-painted cars and accompanying motorcycles and Fiat, braving tough conditions indeed. When they were in South America, they travelled a stretch of broken highway that hadn’t been used for decades and was being reclaimed by the jungle. This time, Australia and Southeast Asia will present new obstacles, no doubt, which many will look forward to watching from the comfort of their own homes.