Mummy in the driver's seat

Mummy in the driver's seat

On a stark wintry morning, we're zooming down the Bussell Highway in an orange Hyundai SUV.

"Caravan," announced my husband, as one came barrelling down the other side of the dual carriageway.

"Winery," I countered, waving my hand at the neat vines streaking outside the window.

"Cows!" called our eight-year-old in the back seat. A bovine blur sped by.

"Ten thousand trees!" yelled his four-year-old brother gleefully next to him, as my mother chuckled on the sidelines.

Welcome to Extreme I Spy: Perth-to-Margaret River Edition, the game we played on a recent road trip - our first. A game which not just kept this driver awake, but staved off the "Are we there yet?" blues on our week-long journey.

Unlike packaged tours, family-friendly beach resorts or even city-hopping, there is something particular about the road trip that makes it such an indelible rite of passage.

Jack Kerouac famously went On The Road; Robert M. Pirsig wove philosophy into a 17-day two-wheel journey in Zen And The Art Of Motorcycle Maintenance.

Cinema-scape is littered with them: Thelma And Louise (1991), Mexican director Alfonso Cuaron's coming-of-age story Y Tu Mama Tambien (2001), and Pixar's Cars (2006), one of my sons' favourite films, is a nostalgic meander along Route 66.

But the ones that seem most hilariously disastrous are always the ones that involve family. National Lampoon's Vacation (1983), Rain Man (1985) and who could forget the dysfunctional falling-apart-then-coming-back-together of Little Miss Sunshine (2006)?

The family road trip is as much an endurance test as it is a means to an end.

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