The idea actually was: roll through an Australian summer on the latest Chinese craze so get to know it. My father has always led the family in acquiring the latest gadgets, and usually no one has followed. But a quick go on his hoverboard/smart balance wheel/self-balancing scooter or whatever the damn thing is called had me hooked. We settled on the pleasingly accurate ‘wheelie thing.’

I went to town on the thing. Yes, Kiama’s main street was in awe of my balancing antics. I rolled past the salmon-coloured post office, past my grandfather’s old fish ‘n’ chip shop and up to the famous blowhole. Santa Claus arrived on the back of a quad bike to greet the Nippers at Surf Beach, tossing lollies to a million of his followers. I parked the wheelie thing briefly to wade into the surf and herd shrieking kids through frightening waves. I’ve never trusted the ocean. The kids fled the watery horrors and puttered back across the sand like wind-up toys.

It pays to have rich friends. Next stop was a multi-million dollar apartment in Pyrmont. Wheelie thing and I watched the party boats pull up a berth, and we scoured the seven seas for Luna Park. The sun cut into my neck, the pavement was too hot for bare feet. It was as good a time as any to retire inside and roll rings round a $50,000 grand piano. It could be a scene from a Sydney summer production of The Great Gatsby, with added wheelie thing. 3am, a savaged liquor cabinet, a half-cut heart surgeon belting out the hits of Billy Joel on the grand, hangers-on cooing from the margins, and a sunburnt jackass hooning laps on the polished floor.

Uptown Girl was interrupted by repeated cries of, “Don’t hit the piano!” They needn’t have worried, I gave it room. Too much room. The glass mirror of considerable expense didn’t stand a chance. Wheelie thing was sent to bed in disgrace. The heart surgeon was up at 7am. He had some nursing to do; mostly of a hangover, but also of people in need of a functioning heart. He ended up in hospital while I ended up in Manly.

The cruise past Sydney Heads to Manly is the world’s best commute. The boat showed the wheelie a thing or two about rolling with style. At the Manly Corso people thought it was okay to walk round in their underwear. I thought it was okay. Summer in Australia means a blurred line between beach and street. The ocean was crowded, lumpy, salty, a few steps from being out of my depth. I needed a dry wheelie thing under my feet. Wearing a thin crust of sand I rolled back through the crowds of tog-people to the wharf.

The next day I was back at home in ugly outer-suburbia. The neighbourhood kids, as black as the wheelie thing itself, rolled up on pushbikes. They laid down their pushbikes. They begged, “Can we have a go?”

Bloody oath, and off they went, wobbling down the road, taking evasive action to the time-honoured cry of “CAR!” They produced commendable burnouts and left with smiles and skinned knees. Perfect.
There was weekend off-roading with my beloved to a secluded lake, painted Australian-issue brown. Yes, me and the wheelie thing were on a hot date. There was camping; the happy couple could be seen rolling at a sensible pace over gravel roads, into the toilet block, past the camp kitchen and to the office for ice, three bags full.

The wheelie thing died yesterday. Its blue lights flashed their last, its obliging beep forever silent. But it saw an Australian summer – the best parts of it anyway. Another holiday romance over, the wheelie thing buried back in its box and returned to sender for a proper farewell, and for me a refund. You can’t be too sentimental about these things.