Biggest Loser host’s harsh driving reality
FIONA Falkiner learned her most valuable driving lesson the day she got her P-plates.
Fresh from passing her driving test, she borrowed her dad's work ute for a drive around their small country town.
"Utes are a little bit trickier to drive because they're light in the back and I was on a back road, wind in my hair, windows down, loving life and drove off a main road quite quickly on to a dirt road and the ute actually did a 360,"
says The Biggest Loser host.
"There was really high grass on the side of the road and it ploughed into the grass. Luckily the grass was so long it caught the wheels and stopped the car.
"It was the most terrifying moment of my life and then I had to call dad to come and rescue me on my first drive."
The incident stuck with her, as did the tongue-lashing she received from her concerned dad.
"From that moment I became a very cautious driver and, touch wood, I've never had an accident.
"It was a blessing in disguise really - you get that shock and think, 'I never want to do that again,' " she says.
It wasn't her only scary time on the road.
On a trip from Melbourne to Sydney, her trusty Honda Civic, a hand-me-down from her grandparents, blew the engine just outside Colac and ground to a halt on the freeway.
"It just went bang. I was terrified because it just stopped in the middle of the highway. I had to just put my hazard lights and call dad," she says.
Cars breathing their last while on the road was a bit of a theme with the Falkiners, who believed in driving them into the ground.
"My family had the same car from when I was born to when I was 18 and it was a big old station wagon, a Peugeot 505," she says.
After the Civic, Falkiner found herself delivering the last rites to her next car, a Mitsubishi Magna bought from her partner on Dancing with the Stars.
"I had that for two or three years, then it also conked out and it was going to cost more than it was worth to fix it," she says.
After years of buying practical and cheap workhorses to simply get from A to B, she recently splashed out on a new Mercedes-Benz
"When you get a bit older, and financially you can pick and choose a bit more freely, you want something a bit nicer," she says.
"We had friends who had a Mercedes and growing up that was always my dream, to own a Mercedes," she says.
With that off the bucket list, she says a Bentley convertible is the new dream car.
"I actually drove a friend's convertible Bentley the other day and that is probably one of the most beautiful drives I've had - just a big, beautiful smooth piece of machinery."