The Student’s Desk

That we may know Christ

Who is Jason Forbes?


Jason Forbes is a young man living with cerebral palsy. Here, Jason shares what it means to have cerebral palsy and to be a Christian with a disability. Jason has also overcome many difficulties and tells how he has been able to achieve what he has by the grace of God.

The Student’s Desk

Contents

A short autobiography

Becoming a Christian

Employment

Theological Education

Where in the world?

Interests

The Garage
trikes
cars

A short autobiography

Hi, I’m Jason. I’m currently studying a Bachelor of Theology at the Presbyterian Theological Centre and candidating for the ministry. That may sound a little ‘ho hum’, but let me tell you a few more things about myself which makes my journey an interesting one, and sets the context for this website.

I was born 7th March, 1975 with cerebral palsy, a neuromuscular condition which affects the way the brain communicates with the rest of the body. It affects people in a diverse range of ways, so much so I’ve yet to see two identical cases of cerebral palsy. It can leave people in a vegetable-like state with no limb or oral function along with a mental disability, through to a slight limp with an otherwise fully functioning body. In my case, cerebral palsy has effects my fine and gross motor controls, and speech. What this means is I’m unable to write with a pen, do up buttons on a shirt, tie shoe laces, negotiate steps without a handrail, and my typing speed is at around 10wpm – so I want you to enjoy reading this whether you like it or not!! However, I manage to drive a car, ride long distances on a recumbent tricycle, and lead an independent lifestyle. In sum, cerebral palsy hasn’t stopped me doing crazy things as you may find. The biggest challenges I face is making myself understood. The clarity of my speech varies, and so does people’s ability to listen. So I can never be sure of what kind of reception I’ll get.

Growing up was a fairly lonely affair, not to deny the support and strength of my parents who stuck it out despite the difficulties. I was an only child, and basically had no social life until I was 19 when I started going to the local Presbyterian Church. Sure I had mates at school, but I wasn’t know the full extent of their disabilities until I reached adulthood when I began to discover how much more potential I had. I guess as a child no one new what I was capable of, and was never really pushed to my limits. As such, my primary education was pretty pathetic. Some may take offence at me saying that, but quite frankly, I don’t care! I received my primary education along side kids with mental and behavioural disabilities. So for a future university student, not much learning was done. Things improved a little in year 6 with a change of teacher. He at least saw something of what I was capable of, and in a single year took me from year 4 to the end year 6. This at least got me into mainstream high school, but I was put in the lowest classes with kids who had no interest in learning anything (or is that ‘nuthin’?). As for being social, I don’t know why they didn’t make picking on Jason a school sport. Everyone seemed to be into it. As such I left at the end of year 10 and didn’t do my HSC.

I am telling you these things, because as you read through the various essays, articles, and journals on here, I want you to appreciate just how fair I’ve come, and the tremendous work of power God has been doing in my life. I have not been trained to think, write, or research. Yet by God’s grace, I have been able to interact with some of the greatest minds that have contributed to the fields of theology and philosophy, and have my efforts recognised by the faculty. I have been able to reach far beyond what should be my physical limits, and do things most able bodied people will never do. Further, and most importantly, I’m finding more and more as a disabled person the world telling me just to sit on the sideline, and not get in the way of others who are able to do things. Yet, I find God saying, “No! I want you to be involved with what I’m doing!” God doesn’t care I can’t speak clearly, or need a good part of a decade to get through a theological degree. God wants me to tell of the great restoration that’s been made available in Jesus Christ, and will be made complete at his coming.

Today, I’m involved with giving church services at the Allambie Heights Spastic Centre, Christian camps for people with disabilities, giving talks in various places, and providing pastoral support to people with disabilities and those who care for them. It is my hope to extend this work when I complete my studies.

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Becoming a Christian

As early as I can remember, I’ve believed in God. It just makes sense, doesn’t it? I was raised Catholic, and while my parents weren’t, say, “fanatical” about their faith (ie. Images plastered everywhere, daily Rosaries), they did attend Mass each Sunday, and had me go through the usual rites – baptism, communion, confirmation, confession.

There were a number of issues about Catholicism I found puzzling like praying to saints, and other observances of the Church. I always felt strange engaging God in prayer for my general concerns, then breaking my communication with God to pray to a saint for a specific concern who would then pray to God for me. If I already had God’s attention, why not just keep right on praying to him? It was with concerns like this I went to Mum with who’d encourage me to keep going and I might understand one day. So without understanding, I accepted the Catholic Church was the one and only true Church and true faith, and there was no salvation outside the Catholic Church. I was quite prepared to defend Catholicism and convert the ignorant to it.

Things began to change, however, at age 14. I became good friends with a Christian woman who was going to a Baptist Church at the time. She had a passion and knowledge of Jesus that I had not yet seen. I met her parents, and they were the same. It seemed every time they opened their mouths, something about Jesus would fall out. I began to realise that these people had something I did not, and I wanted it. During the same period, I would enter into massive discussions with my friend. On one such occasion I was sprouting on and on about the saints – I had at that time quite a good knowledge of them. I realised my friend had little idea of what I was talking about. I stopped and asked, “Don’t you know about the saints?” To this she replied, “No. I’m to busy learning about Jesus.” Well, just how do you respond to such a profound reply? I’m happy to say she is still a personal friend of mind, and still confounds my pride with her simplicity of faith.

For the next 4 years I remained in the Catholic Church with some important questions. Firstly, I was confused as to how people could know so much about Jesus when they weren’t in the ‘true faith’. This led me to start questioning why I needed to be Catholic. Eventually I went to the Parish Priest with this question. I was told as I had been before, “we’re the true church, we’re the true faith”. I thought, “The Jehovah Witnesses say the same thing. Maybe I should join them!” I didn’t say as such, but now I wish I had. Sufficient to say, his answers did not satisfy. In the coming months, I left the Catholic Church to the disappointment of my parents.

Around 6 months later in the privacy of my bedroom, the most important thought came to mind – Jesus died my death, for my sins, in my place. It was at that point I understood what it was to be forgiven and stand right before God beyond doubt. Shortly after I discovered John 14:6 – “Jesus answered, ‘I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me.'” What is the true faith? Jesus is the true faith! Not this church or that church or any other church. Not the Pope or some other religious leader. Jesus is the truth. If you want to get to God, you must go through Jesus, irrespective of what church you go to! So I wanted a church that was going to teach me the Bible, the whole Bible, and nothing but the Bible, because that’s where I would learn more about Jesus. After looking around local churches at the time, I found that to be the Presbyterian Church. 14 years later, I’m still enjoying the fellowship there, and am mighty thankful that Jesus revealed himself to me.

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Employment

Finding a job can be difficult. When you have cerebral palsy, it can be even tougher! I have been privileged to work a couple of jobs that involved computer administration – desktop publishing, technical writing, database work, software installation and maintenance, all that boring stuff. Unfortunately with my speech impairment, various people weren’t enthused to keep me on when the government funding ran out.

Later I considered going into the I.T. industry and started training it computer programming. However, I didn’t like my chances of getting a job at the end it all, and even if I did, I wasn’t sure if I wanted to spend my working life having personality conflicts with a machine, no matter how much I was paid! So my attention turned to keeping myself fit and healthy so I could enjoy my cycling, and offer Christian service where I could.

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Theological Education

In 1999 I started to think if God has given me intelligence, than I better use it and go to Bible College. The problem was I’m not a reader by nature, and I’m still not. So I set my self a challenge to read 10 books in a year. If I did that, then I would go to Bible College. I got to 8, yet still thought I should be going to Bible College. I enrolled at SMBC and commenced a 4 year part-time course in a Diploma of Divinity in 2000 not knowing how I would perform. I found myself performing quite well, and enjoying the studies. I began studies mostly for my own edification hoping it would lead somewhere. Indeed it did, but not where I expected.

Two years into the course, the then minister of my church tapped me on the shoulder and asked had I considered candidating for the ministry. 6 months later in 2002, I had cut short my studies at SMBC and graduated with a Certificate of Christian Studies. I was in a different college at PTC, doing a different course – the B.Th, and was on one almighty learning curve! I was use to reading 1 or 2 books, if any. Now I was reading books by the dozen and writing essays by the half-dozen – big ones at that! Not only have I coped, I have excelled in my learning. As much as I may whinge about it from time to time, I have found the academic arena to be much of my element. By year’s end, I was a candidate for ministry for the Presbyterian Church.

I am past the half way point in my degree, and still have no idea where all this study will end out, and neither does anyone else. But my confidence is in God, and his purposes will be achieved.

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Where in the world?

The Student’s Deskis located on the Central Coast of NSW.

My location

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Interests

Cycling

This has been a big interest of mine for 15 years. But it wouldn’t be cycling as you know it. At one point, I was learning to ride a normal bicycle. I managed to master the art of staying upright to a fairly large extent quite quickly. However, it soon became apparent this was not safe. The slightest distraction was enough to send me into the “death wobbles”. Out on the road, there’s plenty of distractions, and this would not be good! So I ride a GreenSpeed recumbent tricycle. On these machines, I have ridden 3 Sydney to the ‘Gong [Wollongong] rides (92km), 3 Cycle Sydney rides (50km), done countless tours of the Central Coast from one end to the other, ridden to the summit of Mt. Kosciusko, and allot of off road rides through the bush (which GreenSpeeds weren’t really designed for!). I have also done 3 camping trips, though two of them failed. The one and only successful trip was from Gosford to Kangaroo Valley and Berry which saw my ride around 300km in 8 days.

Unfortunately my fitness and enthusiasm is no longer. Most of my time and energy is spent studying, which I find worth while. I once invested much into my health and fitness, but am now reluctant to do so other than to maintain a basic level of fitness. I’ve found fitness to be a fleeting thing. All it takes is a virus or some other ailment or injury, and all your hard work is undone.

You’ll find more about cycling and my machines in The Garage.

4wding and camping

Being able to tour around independently and self-sufficiently has been an epic journey – one that went on for 12 years when I finally struck success in 2006. I wont reiterate the whole story here, though I will say how it’s been concluded.

My camp setup is based on a Mitsubishi Delica – a vehicle that was never imported by Mitsubishi Australia. No one knows why! Instead, they’re brought into Australia as used vehicles by car dealers and private individuals. The Delica is basically the locally available Starwagon on steroids. All models use the 4wd running gear found on the Pajero and Triton, and the higher market models have all the luxury appointments readily available at the time of manufacture. Perfect for touring and using for camping.

So after pulling out the 3rd row of seats, I’ve had storage draws and a bed installed with enough room for my trike, and all the other junk I take with me. NO PITCHING TENTS! Now that’s camping!!!

I find camping an economical and easy way to get around. Often I hide myself in the bush, or simply park on the side of the road as I did while going through the Outback. The Delica took so much work and stress out of the routine of camping. So far in the Delica, I’ve toured Central Australia, Victoria 3 times, and South East Queensland – all on my own. The next big adventure in the pipeline is to Cape York with the Delica Club in July, 2009.

But can a people mover really go off road? Believe it or not, it can! Again and again the Delica has surprised me just how capable it is. Perhaps you’d also think that having cerebral palsy would make it more difficult to drive off road. Not at all. Often I experience far less difficulty then other able bodied drivers. I think this has come from many hours of ridding off road on my trike. When you’re covering anything up to 14 metres every second on a bush track and you’ve got 3 wheels to think about, you better know how to read the track and have your wheel placements picked out! Such skill is identical (if much slower) for driving a motor vehicle off road.

Often I go out with the Delica Cluband have driven in and around the Blue Mountains and Stockton Beach. I have also driven Fraser Island and been into Bendethra Valley with friends from church.

You’ll find more about my vehicles in The Garage.

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The Garage

trikes

cars

I don’t have a garage in real life, which is quite annoying. But I can have a garage on my website! Here, I’d like to tell you about the vehicles I’ve owned over the years, and some of my experiences with them.

The Trikes

Delta TrikeThis was my 1sttrike purchased in 1993. A delta style adult tricycle. The picture was taken in 1995 while on a bike ride from Gosford to Brooklyn with friends from church. My introduction to this idea was when I saw someone locally, who also had cerebral palsy, screaming down the highway at night on their trike. My first response was laughter. But that laughter quickly stopped when I realised that could be me! A short time later, it was me. I had bought a trike not knowing if I was even capable of handling such a thing. It turned out I was more than capable, and the trike gave me an independence I had not yet experienced. It started out as a 6 speed, but soon I put a triple chain ring on making it 18 speed.

Despite the new found freedom it gave, it was a horrid thing to ride. I would later dub it the ‘suicide machine’. The designers weren’t thinking of 17 year olds with a need for speed when they put pen to paper. The trike was very heavy, and even more unstable. I still remember clocking 47km/h down hill terrified of making the slightest movement in case I flipped it. As it was, I had some nasty accidents on it, and the frame wasn’t that strong so it required some makeshift engineering to keep the thing together. I rode this trike for 2 years. How I didn’t kill myself, or end up in hospital I can only put down to the grace and mercy of God.

1st-gs.jpgThis was my 2nd trike I purchased in December, 1995. A GreenSpeedGTR 20/20. The picture was taken in January, 2001 on a bike ride in the Victorian Alps. If there’s ever been a trike that’s had a hard life, this would be the trike.

My introduction to GreenSpeed came about when I decided my 1sttrike had become too twisted and needed replacing. At the same time, the local bike shop had changed hands, and the new owner recalled hearing something about recumbent tricycles. At twice the price of another delta, I wanted to know it was going to work before parting with any money. GreenSpeed was helpful in arranging a trial, and the decision was made pretty quickly – I WANTED ONE! My otherwise dysfunctional body felt like it had been transformed into a weapon I could command at will. I could travel further, faster, and in comfort. I was even able to keep pace with my able bodied mates on their bikes. But this was only the beginning, to the least of my knowledge, of what was to come.

The trike started out as a 42 speed (a 7×3 Sachs hub with a double chain ring). Later I discovered the trike’s off road capabilities, and upgraded the chain ring to a triple making it 63 speed. When my rides became longer, I discovered the wonder of house clamps which allowed me to place water bottle mounts on the frame where ever there was space. Quite frankly, they worked better than the screw holes embedded in the frame. In all, I had 6 mounts. I also had orange lights attached to the sides facing forward that increased my visibility at night. The orange lights had the appearance of fog lights and looked fantastic!

This was also the trike the saw all my major feats – Mt. Kosciusko, Sydney to the ‘Gong, Gosford to Kangaroo Valley. It also revolutionised how I got around. I didn’t have my driver’s license at the time, and was forever catching buses. When I got the trike, buses were a thing of the past. It didn’t matter if it was 5km or 50km, I rode! I estimate in the 1st year of ownership I covered 10,000km. The trike also made the bush accessible, and I’ve been able to get into places I otherwise wouldn’t have. The trike’s stability and handling characteristics made it quite capable off road, and allows for some very fast speeds (topping around 50km/h). The only draw back was a lack of traction when ascending a climb. Some tyres have been better than others, but it’s always a problem. On road it didn’t suffer any draw backs. It was able to corner quicker than cars, and topped around 80km/h on descents. At the peak of my fitness, I was able to top around 40km/h on the flat. But that’s certainly not the case today!

Unfortunately, ownership of the trike came to a sad and abrupt end in January, 2001. The trike was stolen from the back of my car along with some of my other possessions while holidaying east of Melbourne. My car was in a smash repair yard at the time after an accident that day. I did receive some compensation from the smash repair yard and towing company after some legal persuasion. Little did they know this ‘retarded kid’ had done 2 subjects in commercial law!

2nd GSThis is my 3rdtrike which replaced the stolen one in June, 2001 – a GTR 20/20 (although it’s more a GTE). GreenSpeed were good enough to help out with the cost. It was designed and built with a completely different purpose in mind. At the time, I had lost patience with going off road, and I wasn’t having much of a good time touring about by car. I decided I wanted to tour about by trike as I had very much enjoyed my ride to Kangaroo Valley. This trike was built specifically for the job.

I had GreenSpeed put in a medium sized main tube (even though my body mass only required a small size) to give it extra rigidity for the weight of my gear, an extended wheelbase and pannier rack that could take 4 60ltr pannier bags and a payload of 80kg, hydraulic disc brakes, and a smaller chain set to ‘winch’ the whole lot up hills. The gear count this time was ramped up to 72 speed.

Unfortunately the trike has only seen 1 camping trip in 7 years – and that was in the 1styear of ownership. That trip lasted 1 night and failed. Basically it was the wrong time of year, too much weight, too much heat, and not enough fitness. The experience of climbing 300m up Mangrove Mountain while inhaling bushfire smoke, having ash falling on me, and bush fire trucks racing up and down the road certainly did not enthuse me to pursue this venture any further. My attention returned to the idea of touring by car, and within 6 weeks had purchased a small 4wd.

Despite the failing, I did cover 150km in 2 days which was a record, and the design of the trike met its purpose. I estimate I had 30kg of weight on the pannier rack, and travelling at 50km/h down a rough bit of road it felt rock solid, unlike the previous trike that would flex all over the place with just an estimates 25kg on the back – scary!

I hope to put this trike on the market soon, after the brakes have a good service. I’m hoping to get $4,500 for it. Email me if you’re interest.

3rd GSThis is my 4thand latest acquisition – a GreensSpeed GTR 20/20. It was purchased in October 2007, but wasn’t until December when I was able to use it due to repairs. This trike has taken up where my 2ndtrike has left off. When I lost interest in touring by bike, I wanted to replace my tourer with a GTR – like my 2ndtrike. Especially when I got my Delica. The whole idea was to go and camp somewhere and explore the surrounding area by trike. But being surrounded by dirt roads and bush tracks, I was reluctant to take the tourer out. The more rigid frame meant every bump felt that much bigger, and I was paranoid of rupturing a hydraulic brake line. That would’ve meant no brakes – not good for the kind of speeds I get up to! So not much ridding was done while camping.

Replacing my tourer was not going to be easy. GreenSpeeds, brand new, start at $5,000. Occasionally you find one 2ndhand, but you’d normally expect to pay $3,500, which was still out of my league. So when I saw this one going for $1,000, I grabbed it promptly. It was the right make and model with the right specs. It’s a trike that I’m very happy with.

The trike has 63 speeds, a small main tube, and “bullet-proof” cable drum brakes. Not as good as hydraulic disc brakes, but their virtually maintenance free. Perfect for the bush!

The Cars

Why talk about cars? Particularly to the extent I do! I guess there’s a part of me that never outgrew playing with matchbox cars. So today, I enjoy reading and learning about cars, and playing with the real things. On a more serious level, cars have been a means for me to achieve what I have set out to achieve, and have gained much enjoyment from owning and driving cars. For these reason, the cars I’ve owned are also part of my life story.

Subaru Touring Wagon

SubaruI acquired my provisional driver’s licence at age 20, and not too much later, I purchased my 1st car a week before my 21stbirthday. It was a 1984 Subaru Touring Wagon. This picture was taken in Chitchester State Forest in January, 1997 near Dungog. I paid too much for it, and it cost a packet to run, but I loved it!

It had a 1.8ltr carburettor boxter engine producing 60kw @ 5,200rpm (if you were brave enough to rev it that high!) / 135nm @ 2,400rpm. Sufficient to say it was gutless. The suspension was also shot, but that just made for great cornering. So the fact it was gutless didn’t matter since you could carry what speed you had through corners. The 3 speed auto made for noisy touring. It also had air conditioning which was great until the weather got really hot. Then you had to turn the air conditioner off to prevent the engine from overheating. Best of all it had a part-time single range 4wd system which I loved for getting along dirt roads, and going a bit further than the average sedan. It also drank unleaded at around 13ltrs/100km. Ouch!

I got 4 years use out of it before selling it just prior to the wheels falling off it (metaphorically speaking).

Daihatsu Sirion

Daihatsu SirionI reckon if people are honest with themselves they can look back on times in their life and think, “Why did I do THAT!?” This car represents one of those times for me. The Daihatsu Sirion, purchased in September, 2000. The picture was taken while camping in the foothills of Mt. Buller, Victoria.

It came with a 3 cylinder 1ltr EFI VVTI engine that produced 40.5kw @ 5,200rpm (apparently the 0.5kw was very important. I never worked out why), and a not so stump pulling 88nm @ 3,600rpm, all delivered through a 4 speed automatic gearbox. Not that you knew when it producing this astonishing power because there was no tachometer.

It was economical. Typically it drank 6.4ltrs/100km, and when it came to servicing I could almost pay my mechanic in peanuts! But, by way of a pun, all this economy came at a cost. The handling around corners was fantastic, so long as you didn’t hit any bumps half way through. And despite its small engine, there was no problems getting up to speed. The problem was getting it to pull up. The brakes were completely lacking in feel. One moment you weren’t braking hard enough, the next moment you felt the seatbelt preventing you from going through the windscreen. Driving on a dirt road required mastering the art of braking right up until the start of a bend the accelerating through the bend to keep the tail end in check. Otherwise, braking into a bend would make the tail end do its own little dance, and not to the amusement of the driver!

On this occasion, I know exactly why I did THAT. My Subaru needed replacing badly. Used cars at the time were still quite expensive, unlike today where it’s possible to get a half decent car for a few thousand. I also was more interested in my cycling, and was only buying a car because I needed one. With just a couple thousand in the bank, and some cheap offerings in the new car market, it just made sense to borrow a whole stack of money and buy new.

As it would turn out, the Sirion was very limited in the extent it could serve my needs. Sure I could get my bike in it along with all my other junk for camping trips. But going for a bike ride meant unpacking the whole car to get the bike out, throw everything back in the car, go for a ride, and repeat the process when I returned. What a pain! Especially when my touring ambitions returned to being car-based. Another limitation was the capability of the car itself. I recall driving down a muddy road in the Northern Tablelands of NSW with my heart in my mouth. The transmission only allowed me to engage 2nd and not 1st. Theoretically it could do 90km/h in 2nd, so there wasn’t much resistance to regulate the car speed, and I was worried that using the brakes would lock the very narrow tyres and send me sliding off into a ditch – yet again! Fortunately I was able to steer it down the hill without incident. Though it became clear I had bought the wrong car. 14 months after buying the Sirion, I was trading it in for something somewhat more accommodating for my adventurous spirit.

Suzuki Jimny

Suzuki JimnyIf there is a car I’ve owned that I would love to have back, it’s this one. The Suzuki Jimny, purchased in November, 2001. Not that I’m desperately unhappy with my current vehicle. To the contrary, I’m wrapped with my current vehicle. But the Suzuki Jimny is just such a good car. It was a minimalist approach to 4WDing with some creature comforts on the side, and it worked! There is no other vehicle on the Australian new car market you can buy for less then $25,000 and take it straight into the bush. It’s just as capable off road, if not more so, then vehicles with a price tag twice the size. Suzuki had stayed true to the original LJ-10 formula in 1970 with much needed modern day improvements and a much larger engine.

It had a 1.3ltr inline EFI engine that produces 60kw @ 5,500rpm and 110nm @ 4,500rpm. A bit more power would’ve been nice, but it was sufficient to maintain 100-110km. A short geared 4 speed automatic with a lock-up torque converter and dual range, and most importantly, good brakes! It handled well with coil springs at each corner, though limited by the solid axels front and rear. In this sense it could be regarded as a ‘micro-truck’. But it still handled much better than the Sirion! It drank around 8.8ltrs/100km, and with services set at 12 months/15,000km, it’s a cheap way to get into serious 4wding.

jimny-and-trike.jpgInitially it didn’t resolve my trike carrying problems. But 2 years into ownership, myself and a mate, and some of his mates, worked out a way to mount the trike to the spare wheel carrier on the back door. This made such a big difference to camping and touring. At the time, I simply wanted to transfer what I was trying to do by trike to a car – pitching a tent, etc. So having the trike outside the vehicle meant my gear was more readily accessible, and I could take more of it. But it didn’t take too long before I got sick of pitching tents. I persisted in trying to make the Jimny work by trailing alternatives to a tent. However, it all came undone on one July evening 18 months after the trike went on the back door. I was camping on the North Coast of NSW cooking my dinner behind the Jinmy trying to keep out of the howling south-westerly that had a chill that cut straight through to your bones. I had the distinct thought that this was not fun. At that point I decided I wanted a van!

Aside from the lack of shelter while camping, it did have a few other problems. It only had a 40ltr fuel tank, so it got annoying stopping every 350-400km for petrol. There was only one interior light located above the review mirror, so you couldn’t see what you were doing in the back at night. The ride was also quite rough, though this is simply unavoidable in a 4wd with a very short wheelbase. After 2 hours of being thrown about the cabin, I was quite ready for a break! And as I found out, the location of the radio antenna made it prone to being snapped off while reversing under low tree branches. Realistically, if I could have the Jimny back, I wouldn’t. It couldn’t do the job that I want done nowadays. When I pull up next to one today, I look at it thinking, “where’s the rest of it!?” It is a such small vehicle, and there is no way I’d fit all the gear I tend to take with me on long trips without packing things so tight it would take me a day to get at the one thing I was after! But all this is not enough to deny this is a great car.

Mitsubishi Delica

Hotel RoyalWell that was it. I was going to forfeit my 4WDing adventures, and opt for the security and convenience of a van to go camping. That was until a good friend opened his big mouth and said, “Why don’t you get a Troopy [Toyota Land Cruiser Troop Carrier] and drop an automatic tranny in it???” The problem was I’m only licensed to drive an automatic, and Troopies only come in a manual. Though my friends advice wasn’t followed through, it did put the 4WD aspect firmly back on the agenda. Before I did major surgery to an unsuspecting Troopy, I wanted to know what options I had.

There was only one option. It carried a Mitsubishi badge – not good for a start. What was worse, it was a grey import! Brought in from Japan as a used vehicle – potentially the biggest liability ever known to a family budget. But, it was an automatic. It was 4WD. It was a VAN. And it was the only vehicle like it. For these reasons, the Delica needed a closer look before I could dismiss it as rubbish!

I didn’t reach that conclusion. I found my way onto the Delica Cluband found out just about everything there is to know about this mysterious vehicle. Mechanical advice, common problems, where to get parts and accessories, it was all there! It took me 6 months to decide I wanted one after chasing half a dozen of them through the bush in my Jimny on a club outing. 7 weeks to decide the best way to get one. 6 weeks to sell the Jimny. 7 weeks of looking on Japanese auction websites, and another 9 weeks getting it out here and on the road. Being the top of the line model, the Royal Exceed, naming it was pretty obvious, and was quickly dubbed the Hotel Royal. On 23rdDecember, 2005, a 1996 Mitsubishi Delica Royal Exceed became mine! The photo was taken at Stockton Beach in March, 2007 on a club outing.

It has a 2.8ltr turbo diesel engine officially producing 92kw @ 4,000rpm and 294nm @ 2,000rpm (though it seems to pull harder than the average Delica of the same series). A 4 speed automatic gearbox with dual range. An ‘on then fly’ 4wd system offering 4 drive modes – 2WD, AWD, 4WDhi, 4WDlo. And all the bells and whistles 1996 had to offer! It drinks diesel at around 12ltrs/100km, which isn’t bad considering it tips the scales at just over 2 tonne.

The Hotel Royalhas surpassed all my expectations again and again. It has proven itself to be a capable off roader, an extremely comfortable tourer, and turns camping into luxury accommodation. Packing and unpacking has been made easy with all my bits and pieces being readily accessible. My trike goes inside, even when I’m sleeping in it. Nothing is moved to get or do something else. When not in ‘Hotel Royal mode’ I’m able to carry my trike, and 3 other people, which is just great for going bike riding with friends.

It does suffer from ‘elephant in a china shop syndrome’ when it comes to local duties like shopping. Being just over 2m tall, you also need to be selective about where you shop. The only other draw back is the 4 speed gearbox. I can’t help thinking it needs a 5th cog to keep the revs around 2,000 well inside the torque band on the freeway. As it is, the engine revs at 2,700 when doing 110km/h which is normally a bit high for a diesel. But it seems to be happy doing it.

As for being a liability, it’s been quite good. So far I’ve only had to replace an inner rack end on the left hand side, and do urgent repairs to the front brakes. Generally, it is expensive to run with service intervals at 5,000km/3months. But I find it gives so much service back, and nothing else could do the job I bought it for.

Since owning it, I’ve had many adventures, and I’m looking forward to many more, including Cape York mid 2009.

Well, that’s a bit about me and what I do. I hope the rest of the website is an encouragement to you.

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7 Comments »

  1. Looks good Jason. Enjoyed reading your story. Hope the site fulfils your intentions for it.
    Neil

    Comment by Neil Chambers | February 6, 2008 | Reply

  2. Once again you amaze me with your clarity of words. And I think I have learnt a bit more about you which can only be a good thing. Keep up the good work.
    I think God has helped you get through many journeys and many more to come.
    Lorraine

    Comment by Lorraine Blanco | February 6, 2008 | Reply

  3. Thanks very much, Jason. You have so many, varied entries that make for engrossing reading. Something for everyone. Your autobiography and your thoughts are a humbling challenge to all of us to seek God and His will more urgently.
    Margo

    Comment by Margo Lawry | February 8, 2008 | Reply

  4. Hi Jason,
    Thankyou for keeping in touch with all your news. I was really interested to read of your upbringing and how you became a Christian. Praise God for all that He has done in your life. I admire you for all your hard work at PTC. I agree with Lorraine, you have an amzing clarity with words and you are no less important just because of your education in the past. Look at where you are at now!! Look forward to hearing further news from you.
    Kind Regards.
    Claire Withers.

    Comment by Claire Withers | February 12, 2008 | Reply

  5. Wow! Jason you’ve been through so much and yet you still remain strong and trusting to God! You are an inspiration!

    All the best for this site! I have a feeling it will be very popular!

    Take care,

    Sarah

    Comment by Sarah O'Donovan | February 20, 2008 | Reply

  6. Love to read all the bits-particularly Who is Jason Forbes?-even thou I “know you Jason” I realise how much I didn’t know. You have a very full life. I write at 10 words per minute too but I don’t have Cerebal palsy. See you on the 28th of March (camp)
    1697 hits in just over a year, about 3or 4 were me-some other people like what you do to

    God Bless
    Joe

    Comment by Joe pennington | March 9, 2008 | Reply

  7. Jason i was blessed and touch of your tistimony its great blessing,thanks so much of your eagerness in life,thats great challenge to us who are perfectly created by God.
    your great blessing to us.were praying for you.

    Comment by FERNANDO D IMPANG,JR | July 8, 2008 | Reply


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