Epic journey now e-book

Noel Cantrill (Right) is a former resident of Kiama who has published an eBook about an overland trip from Asia to Europe that he shared with his life long friend Frank Arnold (left). Picture: GEORGIA MATTS

Noel Cantrill (Right) is a former resident of Kiama who has published an eBook about an overland trip from Asia to Europe that he shared with his life long friend Frank Arnold (left). Picture: GEORGIA MATTS

FORMER Kiama resident Noel Cantrill has helped document the trip of a lifetime he took with a friend nearly 50 years ago.

Mr Cantrill, 72, recently published an e-book about an overland trip from Asia to Europe in 1966.

The interactive, multi-touch iBook is titled Highly Inflamably.

Mr Cantrill was vice-captain of Kiama High in 1957, before having a long career as a sound balancing engineer with ABC-TV in Sydney, as well as in recording and movie enterprises in Australia and overseas.

He moved from Kiama ing to Sydney to work as a trainee technician at the ABC.

His travelling companion in 1966 was Frank Arnold, now 76, then also working for the ABC and who subsequently had a successful career as a television drama and movie director.

The four-month trek featured the pair driving more than 26,000 kilometres in their fitted-out Volkswagen Kombi van.

The 1965 India-Pakistan war almost thwarted their plans, but after a journey by sea on the MV Guglielmo Marconi, they drove from Pakistan through Afghanistan, Iran and Iraq and up through Europe to London, a journey not possible today.

"It was a rare thing to do," Mr Arnold said.

"No-one flew, as it was too expensive. But it was a very different world; a much more naive world.

"We had to do plenty of research, but even that was difficult.

"We couldn't get a map of Afghanistan . . . Noel had to draw a copy from a National Geographic magazine."

During the adventure, they had to grapple with corrupt officials, were accused of spying and one night in "the middle of nowhere" in Iran were awoken by a gun at the window.

After repeatedly telling the armed party they were tourists and only spoke English, they were eventually left alone.

"For a moment it was quite interesting," Mr Arnold said.

They also experienced numerous flat tyres and other assorted issues with their beloved van while battling some treacherous roads.

Mr Arnold described the trek as "life-changing".

"I grew up in a time of innocence, and I'd never left Australia it was very much a cultural awakening," he said.

His friend agreed, saying one of the key lessons he learnt was an "understanding of the common man".

"People are so friendly and interested, and wanted to help," he said.

"They'd advise us out of dangerous situations."

The pair finished the trip much better mates than they had begun.

"We never had a cross word from when we shook hands to go on the trip, to when we got to London," Mr Arnold said.

"We've had more rows about this book; 'no, that didn't happen there'."

Post-trip, Mr Arnold returned home, while Mr Cantrill stayed in London.

From early 1967 he worked as a sound recording engineer at a demo studio, Regent Sound Studio.

While there, he worked with Beatles producer George Martin, as well as acts including The Who.

The lifelong friends both now reside in Sydney, Mr Cantrill visited Kiama for the first time in at least a decade last week. Mr Arnold also has family in Gerringong and Wollongong.

"Frank and I followed separate careers but in retirement Frank suggested writing about our trip, initially for our families, but the relative success of that exercise prompted a clever young publisher, Daniel Woo, to develop the e-book," Mr Cantrill said of the 339-page tome.

The e-book can be purchased via iTunes, and contains many authentic photos and movie clips.

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