A travelling German taco chef and aspiring filmmaker is drawing attention in Broome for his latest project, revamping an old Renault van into a memory box, nightclub and man-cave on wheels. Johnny Rodrigues grew up in Germany and moved to Australia last year, after COVID-19 forced him to leave India, where he had been travelling for five months. Unable to find work in Perth because of the pandemic, Mr Rodrigues decided to use his newfound freedom to begin a project he had previously thought was a pipe dream. Mr Rodrigues bought a grey Renault Trafic van for $5000 in June last year, which marked the beginning of his commitment to renovate the vehicle and turn it into not only a jaw-dropping party attraction, but his dream mobile home. Mr Rodrigues said he had little direction, but a lot of passion. “I had no idea what I wanted to do in the beginning,” he said. “I am a chef, so I never worked with tools but I had this dream and I was determined to do it.” After working on the van for 12 hours a day for two months, Mr Rodrigues decided to drive it 2000km from Perth to Broome. “I started adding more and more lights — it became an addiction,” he said. Now fully equipped with an electric fireplace, a disco ball, a smoke machine, laser beams, a self-serving bar and a TV with Netflix, the van has become a nightclub or man-cave on wheels. Mr Rodrigues said he had spent about $10,000 on the van in total. “It is said Buddha found enlightenment under the Bodh Gaya tree in India, so I went to this place, it is a holy place with many temples, and I bought this Buddha,” Mr Rodrigues said. “I found the cow skull in Broome in 2018. It was completely dried out so I soaked it in bleach for like two weeks, then painted over it and built a light out of it, because why not?” The real fun begins when the sun goes down and thousands of LED lights and laser beams fill the van with brilliant flashing colours, reflecting off the luminous disco ball suspended in the centre of the van. “It got out of control with the lights — I’ve got solar lights, a skull light, a Bombay Sapphire light and lasers. It is never enough,” Mr Rodrigues said. By day, dozens of handwritten poems and messages from friends, lovers and strangers can be seen covering the panels of the van like tattooed mementos. Last week Mr Rodrigues decided the love he had poured into the van should warrant the vehicle having a name, even hosting a baptism that saw a warm beer poured over the dashboard. “I decided to call him Gablu — it means the one who is a bit chubby; I thought it suited him very well because he is a big boy,” Mr Rodrigues said. But nothing can shine so brightly without attracting attention, with Gablu’s many bells and whistles having previously caught the eye of police, who pulled Mr Rodrigues over for questioning. Mr Rodrigues said Gablu received positive reactions from everyone he met. “People go nuts for it — it is a great way to meet people and make friends,” he said. “Even the other day someone came up to me and asked if I hired it.” Currently sitting at 235,000km, Gablu is expected to hit the road in the coming months, travelling up north to Darwin and eventually all the way to Queensland.