Half Safe – The Most Amazing Journey by Car

Many people have adventures, but few people have an adventure that is simply extraordinary. The Australian eccentric, Ben Carlin, had the most amazing journey that was entirely of his own making; in a small amphibious jeep he called Half Safe.

The beginnings to Ben’s journey were simple. Spending World War II in India, which was upsetting to him as he didn’t see any action, at the end of the war he did spot an American amphibious jeep and told a friend that he could take one of them around the world. His laughed scoffed at Ben’s suggestion, so, being a person who loved a challenge, Ben journeyed to the United States, bought an amphibious jeep, modified it to his own specifications, called his vehicle the Half Safe, found a wife to be his travel partner and set off from New York, driving his car into the Atlantic to cross the ocean for Europe.

Sadly, Half Safe did not prove suitable for ocean crossing and, luckily, they were rescued by a passing ship, the Half Safe loaded aboard, and they were dropped off in Canada, where Ben set about modifying Half Safe, so that it could cope with an ocean crossing.

This time, he was proved correct and after several months at sea, towing their fuel in tanks, and battling hurricanes and very high seas, they finally made it to the Canary Islands, then the west coast of Africa, where they drove up the beach and drove across the Sahara before driving across the Mediterranean to Europe; toured Europe, drove across the English Channel and stayed in England for a few years, making more modification before setting out again.

They crossed the Channel drove overland to Calcutta, India. Did another water crossing to Burma, then drove through virgin jungle to Thailand and up to Saigon, where Ben drove across the sea to Hong Kong, then on to Japan, and into the North Pacific for a very cold voyage passed the Aleutian Islands to Alaska and overland to complete the crossing in Montreal.

All this in a vehicle that is just slightly larger than an average family car.

The journey took eight years to complete. During his journey, Ben drove 17,780 km by sea and 62,744 km by land, and it remains as one of the most extraordinary journeys in the history of motoring.

Ben’s wife Elinore suffered from chronic sea sickness, but endured the journey as far as India, where she left him. They set out on their journey in 1950, and Ben completing the circumnavigation in 1958.

He returned to Australia, and settled in his home in Western Australia. Today his vehicle, the Half Safe is on display at his former school Guildford Grammar in Perth, Western Australia. Sadly, Ben’s journey is one that is little known, and it is a journey which deserves more recognition.

You can learn more about Ben, Elinore and their incredible journey by reading his account of the journey is his book The Other Half of Half Safe.

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