by Richard Blackburn
HAVING spent almost eight years without a car as she travelled the globe, television presenter Tara Rushton can't see herself living without one in her current role.
A set of wheels might not be a necessity in the UK, Singapore or Hong Kong but it's a different story in Sydney, where she covers the A-League for Fox Sports.
"I really spend a lot of time in my car. I traverse the whole of NSW for work,” Rushton says.
"When I'm not in the studio I'm in a car going to a stadium so it's a mobile office.”
That means listening to sports podcasts, rehearsing lines and mentally prepping for interviews.
For Rushton, finding a new car means finding a Volkswagen, as she hasn't owned anything else. The attraction started before she could drive.
"My dad had a Beetle,” she says. "It was the coolest car, we used to call it Bertie the Beetle, it was hot red and he'd drive us to school in it and I thought it was the best thing ever.”
She grew up on the Mornington Peninsula, an hour out of Melbourne, where the local primary school had only 100 students, so the Beetle stood out like a sore thumb.
When she was old enough, she bought a 1992 Golf convertible.
"I saved up for it and Dad helped me find it in the Trading Post,” she says.
"I test drove a couple and found this beautiful car and was so in love with it - I had to have it.
"And I've never driven another car since. I've only ever owned Volkswagens.”
Rushton went to high school in Sydney, where she realised she couldn't live without a driver's licence.
"I was dying to get my licence because ... the majority of my friends had their licences and were driving to school, driving to their HSC exams,” she says.
"I lived really far away so I caught two trains and two buses to school every single day so you can imagine I was just hanging to not catch public transport.”
She chose a daunting prospect for her first solo drive, taking to the Sydney Harbour Bridge.
"I remember feeling incredibly overwhelmed because there's a surge of lanes and everything felt a lot more controlled when I had someone next to me.
"I felt really independent, though.
"(I thought) 'Dad's let me drive his car and I'm going into the big smoke across the Harbour Bridge',” she says.
She is now a VW brand ambassador but if she strikes it mega-rich, it may mean the end of a wonderful partnership.
"In my fantasy world I'd be purchasing a Batmobile,” she says.