Skulle köpa mjölk – åkte 60 mil fel
Lost grandfather Eric Steward drives 370 miles to the shops
An Australian grandfather became an accidental adventurer when he took a wrong turn while going for a drive to get the milk on Monday morning, and ended up 600km (370 miles) off course on an epic road trip across Australia.
Eric Steward, 81, was visiting friends in Yass, in south-eastern New South Wales, when he went for a short drive, but took a wrong turn down a highway and ended up across the border in Geelong, just north of Melbourne in the southern state of Victoria.
It was a 600km (370 miles), nine-hour diversion – the equivalent of driving from London to Edinburgh by mistake.
”I just went out on the road to have a drive, a nice peaceful quiet drive. I didn’t know where I was going but I knew it was somewhere, and with a bit of luck I would eventually find my wife again,” Mr Steward, who suffers from slight dementia, said earlier today, still wondering what all the fuss was about.
The former navy seaman eventually realised his mistake when he began to run out of petrol. He saw Victorian police officer Clayton Smith, who had stopped at a petrol station near Geelong for a drink break with another officer near Geelong on Monday afternoon, and asked for directions to Yass.
“I was stretching my legs, waiting for (his partner) Tom to come back to the car when this little old man came up to me saying he was lost,” Leading Senior Constable Clayton Smith recalled.
”He handed me his mobile and asked if I could speak to his wife.”
The Stewards live in Pambula on the NSW south-east coast and were staying with friends in Yass so Mr Steward could take his wife Clare to a medical appointment in Canberra for cancer treatment.
Mrs Steward explained that when her husband had not returned after a few hours she had became desperately worried so had contacted police.
Reunited yesterday, the couple cracked jokes about the adventure, revealing Mrs Steward’s son had heard about what had happened to his stepfather on local news in England.
”He’s a good driver. Very focussed, I knew that much,” she said.
Mr Steward, wearing a Boy Scout ‘Be Prepared’ belt buckle, happily posed for the media in his car today.
”It’s a lot of fuss isn’t it?” he said, grinning behind the wheel.
”When you get to 80 and beyond it doesn’t matter much. He’s out there waiting for us and you just got to wait your turn.”
Mr Steward shrugged off suggestions he invest in a Global Positioning System for his car.
”Why would you want one of those? You can’t get lost. There is no fun in that,” he said.
Senior Constable Smith described Mr Steward as a nice gentlemen who was full of stories and “very grateful for our help”.
”Although we had to laugh. When we asked him why he hadn’t stopped earlier he replied, ‘I just like to drive’.” he said.