Saturday, October 8, 2011

Making Connections in Unfortunate Circumstances

Our little car did not meet the same fate
I wish I had taken photos. Even got a number, an email. Perhaps even a name. But sometimes it doesn't fit.

We traveled over 7000 kilometers in 12 days, in a 1989 Honda Integra, bought for $200 by my car enthusiast dad, who repaired it to a safe standard. Jeff and I aren't likely to sit around and let a holiday get away from us. We tend to push the limits. We cram too much in. We book flights that on more than one occasion have had us in a sweat getting to before check in closes. We want to do it all.

We drove from Shellharbour, NSW, to Alice Springs, Northern Territory and back. We know we are different. Our little car was dwarfed by mammoth Land Cruisers, Range Rovers and Defenders. Our borrowed two-man Kathmandu tent was overshadowed by motor homes, caravans and purpose built trailers. But we didn't care.

Enjoying Uluru

We met Alex, a Polish born middle aged Australian while hiking King's Canyon, Northern Territory. He kindly took our picture. We chatted, we shared stories. He and his wife were hosting 2 couples visiting from Poland, friends since Alex and his wife left for Melbourne 30 years ago. We parted, continuing our hike, only to be reunited on returning to our car to realise we (Jeff) had left the headlights on and drained the car's battery. Alex didn't have jumper cables, but he had a caring side. He drove us back to the King's Canyon resort, where we borrowed jumpers. He then drove us back to the car and gave us a jump. He then drove with us in the dark to make sure the battery worked and we were ok. Alex even checked up on us in the morning at the campsite to make sure everything was in working order.

Feeling the burn of the Oodnadatta Track

We met Ann and Paul on the Oodnadatta track in South Australia. Our little car was front-end wedged on a dirt and rock bank on the side of the track. We (I) hadn't anticipated the curve in the road, braked too hard and spun out of control. Ann and Paul, retired, occasional teachers, stopped their caravan towing Land Cruiser to give us a hand. With some shoveling, lifting and pushing, the car became unstuck. Paul gave us some rope to keep the bumper on, while Ann assured us that we would be laughing about the incident in time to come.

Unsealed roads abound in the Outback

We met the famillies, and kept on meeting them throughout South Australia. We thought we were the only ones at an old school in Paranchilla, until three 4x4's drove in and set up camp too. Talking about our car (mis)adventures in the rugged camp kitchen, we were told they had some sturdy duct tape that might be of use to us. As it happened, in their group was a dirt bike mechanic. So with tools in hand, after the sun had risen he tightened the loose bolts and connected what had become unconnected on the bumper. One of the four high school aged children even took a sneaky photograph of us and our car. We ran into the families on the road and in a pub and cafe during the remainder of our trip.

Having a rest

Last but not least was Shaun. A motor mechanic recommended to us in Blaxland, New South Wales by the local Post Office. Our little car finally ran out of juice. Shaun installed a new battery while telling us some tales of his recent flight to Broome and the bushfires he could see from the plane, roaring in the NT - which we had managed to avoid. He taught us how to tap the alternator with our tent-pole mallet to keep the connection going and avoid the turmoil of the red battery light on the dash appearing. He gave us some magnets, wished us well and then we were on our way.


  1. Great photos, Kylie! --Mary in Marrakesh

  2. Thanks Mary! There are so many wonderful colours in the Outback.