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Driving down memory lane

Gus Sanders & Edon Bell (AANT) 

Gus Sanders recently dropped in to celebrate the 60th birthday of AANT. Gus, a seasoned AANT veteran, has dedicated 25 years to serving AANT members through road service and vehicle inspections. Remarkably, his association with AANT persists today, as his son and daughter-in-law now an AANT approved repairer manage the Auto Inspection and Road Service (AIRS) business that Gus established.

When Gus commenced his journey with AANT in 1985, the organisation was a modest venture grappling with the vast expanses of the Northern Territory. Describing the era as the "wild west" due to numerous dirt roads and flood-prone routes, Gus recalls the absence of mobile phones, forcing stranded individuals to walk miles and flag someone down to find a phone and call for assistance. At that time, AANT operated with just 3 vans, 4-5 staff, and communication was relied upon second-hand two-way radios.

Gus fondly recounts the myriad of challenges faced during callouts, with a common scenario being individuals locking both keys and children inside their cars. With the scorching heat in the Northern Territory, these situations often led to panic. Gus's advice in such cases was practical yet unusual—urging people to find a hose and wash down the car until help arrived. Not only did this tactic lower the temperature inside the vehicle, but it also provided distraught parents with a calming distraction.

Another recurring callout scenario, then and now, involves ants infiltrating vehicle relays. Despite facing scepticism from the sister club, the RAA, Gus explains that parking under trees for shade often leads to ants exploring under the bonnet. With a keen eye, Gus developed a knack for cleaning and blowing out the ants without getting bitten. While AANT members appreciated the swift resolution, convincing the RAA took extra effort, as this issue is not prevalent in the southern regions.

As Gus Sanders reflects on his extensive history with AANT, his experiences stand as a testament to an era where innovation, resilience, and community service defined the organisation.