On the road in a German dream machine.
When Herr Ferdinand Porsche first put his mind to creating a new car he came up with, at the urging of his friend Herr A. Hitler, the Volkswagen Beetle. It might have been a triumph of design and affordability – some would say it's still the most successful motor vehicle design of all time – but it's not the sort of car you yearn to drive.
Luckily for us, the Porsche family had other ideas. Just before World War II Porsche pere came up with the Porsche 64, a futuristic-looking racer that had more than a little of the Jetsons about it, while after the war Porsche fils (the charmingly nicknamed "Ferry" Porsche) went about designing the 356 while his father sat in jail for 20 months awaiting a war crimes trial that never happened.
Since then the Porsche brand, with its sleek lines and instantly recognisable heraldic black horse logo, has become a global icon, up there with Harley-Davidson and Coca-Cola.
But while a Coke might set you back a few dollars and a new Harley Road King retails at a possibly achievable $30,000 or so, most of us are never going to be able to afford the $120,000 or more for even the cheapest new Porsche.
You can, however, get behind the wheel of one for a day without breaking the bank.
Which is why, early one morning, we find ourselves pulling in to the parking lot of a nondescript garage in Narellan, one of the outer suburbs of south-west Sydney where the city finally peters out and the rural Macarthur region begins.
Inside what is essentially a medium-sized lock-up sit five gleaming silver (arctic silver, if you must know) Porsches. Paul Rodgers and Yasmin Taplin are the owners of these sleek mean machines and are on hand to take us through the mechanics of taking one of them out for a spin as well as double as our tour guides.
The cars all have names, explains Paul. They are: "Big Wheels", "04", "Queensland" and "John". And what about the 5th one? "I call that one 'mine'," he says with a grin.
Rodgers and Taplin met through the Porsche Club of NSW and these days live and breathe the cars. As well as starting Sports Car On Hire last year, the couple (and Rodger's teenage daughter) also compete in Porsche Club Motorkhana driving championships – as evidenced by the plethora of trophies in the couple's office.
After some form-filling and a simple getting-to-know-your Porsche lesson from Rodgers we are ready to hit the road. There is, however, a safety briefing to read and sign. It's pretty much an eight-point common sense document that implores you to drive safely, obey traffic regulations and speed limits and stay off the booze.
The final bullet point declares that the company "reserves the right to cancel the tour if any person drives or behaves in a manner contrary to these notes or disobeys traffic regulations". This, Rodgers explains as we sit in the plush black leather of the soft-top Boxster S (numberplate 986 FUN), is to weed out the "knuckleheads and hoons" who might want to just take a Porsche out, speed around like lunatics and thrash it (or themselves) to death. "That's not what we're about," he says.
We've opted for an automatic with Porsche's trademark Triptronic technology which, using + and – buttons on the steering wheel, offers the choice of manually overriding the automatic gear changes. As a newcomer to sports car driving, I stick to the automatic.
After a coffee and some biscuits we hit the road, top down, essential hats and sunscreen on, and the throaty throb of Paul's car in front as we follow him out of the lock-up and into the Macarthur countryside.
Within minutes the open sprawl of Narellan is left behind and we're passing the Teen Ranch holiday camp at Cobbitty on our way to the lush green backblocks of Macarthur. Our journey takes us along winding roads that wriggle through rolling hillsides one moment and then open out to vast flat vistas the next.
Everywhere we go the Boxster convertible effortlessly hoovers up the kilometres and soon we find ourselves pootling through Picton, where heads turn as not one but two Porsches pulse by. Heaven alone knows what happens when all five travel in convoy – pedestrian whiplash, perhaps?
"My" Boxster might be 10 years old but you'd never know it. It's immaculate in every respect and a dream to drive: powerful, responsive, and hugging curves so tightly that road signs suggesting the speed at which they should be taken begin to look like jokes. And not funny ones, either.
After just over an hour, having negotiated the sweep of the razorback at Remembrance Drive and on to the Old Hume Highway, we pull in for morning tea – little meat pies, cakes, scones with to-die-for Yarra Valley cream and fresh fruit – in the garden at the Olde English-style Camden Valley Inn.
The tour continues along the beautiful back roads of Macarthur – including a few stunning spots that would suit a Hobbit or two – before pulling up at The Italian Project in Camden for lunch. A word to the wise: if it's a hot day do think about putting the top up after a while and giving the air-con a blast. We arrive seriously overheated and feel the need to cool down inside instead of sitting in the restaurant's beautiful open-air courtyard.
The food – salumi board, thyme and lemon marinated chicken, swordfish – remains delightfully delicious.
Then it's back on the road and, far too soon, we're approaching the lock-up in Narellan and I have to fight the urge to ignore the blinking right turn indicator on Paul Rodger's Boxster ahead and just keep on going.
Sports Car On Hire have one-day, two-day or longer , two or more full-day Porsche driving experiences around NSW with set or customised itineraries. Day tours start from $850 per car for a group tour (1-2 people per car). See sportscaronhire.com.au.
The writer was a guest of Sports Car On Hire and Destination Macarthur.