There's a lot to take in when Werner Kroll's plane-turned-campervan comes rolling around the bend.
It's got the unmissable nose of a plane, yet no wings. It's got four wheels, but there's nothing else like it on the road.
Photo: Mr Kroll's the proud owner of the converted campervan. (ABC News: Patrick Williams)
It looks more at home in an old episode of Wacky Races than on the roads of south-east Queensland, but Mr Kroll insists the is Australian ingenuity at its best.
"I'm an ex-flyer. I'm not flying any more, but to drive this is even better than being airborne," he said.
"Now I can fly under bridges all the time, and get away with it. I couldn't do that before."
Inside's another spectacle. There's a pianola, a self-playing pipe organ, and a button accordion.
Mr Kroll, the proud custodian, claims it's the "only musical DC-3 in the world".
So how did a aircraft once belonging to the Jakarta Military end up registered as a campervan in a Samford Valley driveway?
Photo: Mr Kroll's been behind the wheel for more than 20 years. (ABC News: Patrick Williams)
Storm knocks plane out of sky, into workshop
On the night of March 26, 1947, the DC-3 was brought down by a lightning strike on a flight from Sydney to Jakarta.
It crashed in the Katherine Gorge. All six people on board survived, and the cargo was undamaged.
It took six weeks to get the plane out of the bush and to the main road where it could be towed the rest of the way.
Photo: Before it was a campervan, it was a military plane which ended up crash landing in Katherine. (Supplied: Ted Evans/North Territory Library)
Trees and scrub had to be clear for a 30 feet-wide track.
An article in Darwin's Northern Standard from November 1947 documented just how difficult the journey was:
Creeks and rivers were the worst obstacles, necessitating levelling banks and laying wire mesh and logs in the beds.
On one occasion, while negotiating a steep hill, the tow rope broke, and the plane ran down the slope, crashing into a tree and damaging the fuselage.
The article said the expedition was led by aircraft engineer WD Cavanagh.
He was optimistic the plane would be shipped to Sydney and rebuilt.
"The plane will certainly fly again," he said.
Photo: Original plans were to send the plane to Sydney to be rebuilt. (Supplied: Ted Evans/North Territory Library)
"My company will let out the repair work on contract. We have all had considerable experience in aircraft salvage work, but this is the biggest job we have ever undertaken, and I believe it is the biggest job of its kind ever attempted in Australia."
But the plane never made it to the New South Wales capital.
Photo: There are plenty of pictures on the walls of Mr Kroll's campervan. (ABC News: Patrick Williams)
Brisbane-based KLM Royal Dutch Airlines caught wind of the crash.
It was just the thing they needed — the body of a plane to test out their overhauled engines.
"They didn't have a proper rig, they had a homemade thing. A disused aeroplane would be ideal for this purpose," Mr Kroll said.
"So they wanted it badly, and made them an offer … they intended to ship it to Sydney to restore it, but it would've cost a lot of money. So the price they offered was very competitive and they took it, so this machine was unloaded in Brisbane."
The wingless plane spent two years there, before it was purchased by marine plumber Bill Chater in 1950.
"Bill had a competition between a friend of his who was a marine carpenter, and he was going to build a motorhome out of timber. And Bill was going to build a motorhome out of metal," Mr Kroll said.
"When he saw that disused plane he jumped on it, he says it's already half-made motorhome."
"He just chopped it in half, and that's how she looks today."
Mr Chater built his motorhome, and got 10 years of joy out of it before an accident left him with injuries to his legs.
He could no longer drive, and so the van was put on ice for decades.
When Werner met Bill
Decades would pass until Mr Kroll met Mr Chater.
It was work that brought the two together — Mr Kroll was working as a service engineer and was called out to do some work at Mr Chater's company, based under Brisbane's Story Bridge.
Photo: Mr Kroll with the campervan, shortly after inheriting it from his friend. (Supplied)
"I had to fix a machine — I said I need a part and he said he thinks he's got it. We went to Windsor and that's where I saw the truck and fell in love with it," Mr Kroll said.
From there, a friendship blossomed.
They had plenty in common. Both were ex-Navy, and they both played music.
"He liked me, and I liked him, and I liked his truck even more. I tried to buy it off him, he said, 'put your name at the end of the list'," Mr Kroll said.
Photo: Important milestone remembered. (ABC News: Patrick Williams)
The friendship continued up until Mr Chater died in 1990.
Unbeknownst to Mr Kroll, his friend had left the airbus he so desired to him.
The will was contested, but Mr Kroll ended up with the airbus in a couple of years later.
"When Bill made the decision there were four people in front of me — one was going to give it to a museum, one was going to use it for advertising," Mr Kroll said.
Photo: A photo of Bill Chater hangs on the wall of the campervan. (ABC News: Patrick Williams)
"I was the guy who would look after what Bill would like. Because I was handy, I could repair it and I could look after it."
Mr Kroll spent years working on the motorhome — painting it, tinkering with it. He even put in a new diesel engine.
By 1995 it was ready to hit the road once more.
"It takes a little bit of looking after. At the moment I'm having problems with the reverse gear, so the gearbox has to come out which is quite major," Mr Kroll said.
Photo: Werner Kroll shows off the interior. (ABC News: Patrick Williams)
The next custodian?
Mr Kroll has taken immaculate care of the DC-3 ever since it came into his possession.
But he knows it won't last forever, and just like Mr Chatter left the campervan to him, Mr Kroll must leave it to someone else.
Photo: The campervan is a familiar site in the Samford Valley, just outside of Brisbane. (ABC News: Patrick Williams)
So who does he have in mind?
"It has to be an explementary guy like me," he says with a laugh.
"The person has to be able to do the repairs on it, if he's not musical that doesn't worry me, I just happened to be mechanically and musically inclined. But it has to be a guy who can look after it."
Mr Kroll said he already has a future owner in mind — a DC-3 fanatic from Japan he has known for about a decade.
"He's been all over the world, he's written two books about it. He's also a fantastic artist," Mr Kroll said.
It's not an easy decision to make.
"I know a lot of people with special cars and we are considering what to do with them. The families is the last thing, no one in my group of vintage fellows are even thinking of giving it to the family, they'll just flog it," he said.
"A lot of car people in the world with precious cars, heirlooms … it's a problem for us to decide what happens when you pop off because it takes a lot of effort to get a thing like that, getting it and then restoring it and maintaining it."
Photo: Mr Kroll will one day pass the campervan on to another enthusiast. (ABC News: Patrick Williams)
From the ABC