When we had a flat tyre on our way to Coral Bay last week, we decided that caution was the order of the day. So we turned around and drove back to Carnarvon to get the tyre sorted out. Instantly, we had help from our friend Vic and Coopers Tires, who were super responsive in helping us get back on the road.
When we returned to caravan park that we had just left in Carnarvon, it felt like Old Home day (does that reference translate)? We were warmly greeted by fellow traveling families that we had gotten to know over the previous week. We also got a wonderful surprise when a family we had met in Tassie walked into the camp kitchen that night.
The wait for a new tyre turned into a few days of fun for our boys with the opportunity to play with other kids from daylight to well after the sun set.
After an entertaining and (very) late farewell evening with the adults in the group, we headed off to Warrorra Station with one of the families in hopes of connecting with other friends. We ended up with a picturesque camp on the beach. Once we settled into camp, we were disappointed to find that one of the wheel bolts had sheared off the wheel on the same wheel as our newly replaced tyre. Several interested fellow campers came by to check it out and the consensus was we were in reasonable shape (4 of 5 is ok, less than that is bad) and could repair it once we made it to a town with a service center.
The next day we discovered this was not the case when we started hearing a bad sound from the car that turned out to be two loose wheel nuts. After a consult with a tyre shop, we jacked the car up and retightened all the nuts, we began a very slow trek back to our camp.
We were stopping every 1-2kms and discovering that the nuts loose at each stop. One snapped off during on of those stops and we were dumbfounded as to our next move. The Land Cruiser only has 5 wheel studs. We were on a dirt track and it was about to get dark (due to our very slow progress back to camp). Panic set in for a moment as we were unsure if we would damage the car further by driving on it. That’s when the fun started.
Friends who we thought had already returned to camp appeared behind us on the track. Huge sigh of relief. We weren’t alone and we would not have to settle in on the side of the track for the night. Just knowing they were there edged the panic out so that rational thought could take over and we could start to figure out next steps. By some miracle of miracles, we got a bar of mobile service and quickly sent off a note to the most amazing 4WD mechanic, Justin Cooper, who we met in Tassie. He responded instantaneously and asked us to call. Jay had a quick conversation and we had a game plan in place. Our friends took the kids and me back to camp, which was about 5kms away and fed us dinner. At the same time, the men from two other families got back on the track in the dark to make sure Jay made it safely back to camp.
We had a great evening around the fire recounting the days exctiement that night after the kids were in bed. All the activity picked up again in the morning. One family lent Jay their car so he could drive to the top of a sand dune to get mobile reception and call for roadside assistance. Endless negotiation with the roadside assistance resulted in a plan to meet us at the bitumen road to tow us the 200kms or so to the nearest service station. This was not an insignificant feat as we were 25kms in on a dirt track and we needed to get our car and our camper to the road.
Travelling families rallied around us yet again as one family watched the kids while Jay and I frantically packed up and another family volunteered to tow our camper out for us both to ensure we made it safely and to reduce the strain on beleaguered Cave Lion. We made the long trip to the bitumen slowly as I cringed watching our wheel wobble from the trailing car. Everyone felt huge relief as we came over a dune to see the flatbed tow truck waiting for us.
Cave Lion was loaded onto the tow truck and then Siberian Tiger was hooked up to the truck and towed behind us. We bid farewell to our friends as we set off in the truck. Our tow truck driver couldn’t have been friendlier and we got a great history lesson on the area as we made our way north. The town truck pulled us into our camping spot before the car was taken over for service.
Our day was capped off with yet another act of generosity as one of the travelling families who also made their way to this caravan park, invited us for dinner as a treat after our long day. Everyone had a great time.
The last several days have certainly brought some stressful moments, but I am struck so much more by the kindness, generosity and team spirit shared with us. There is a real feeling of “we are all in this together,” which for so many defines the Aussie spirit. We came to this country 10 months ago and began this journey so completely outside of our element and experience without having met anyone in the country.
Our car woes have reminded us how many wonderful relationships we have formed and how far we have come. This is all part of the adventure and I am so grateful that it has allowed us to connect with so many wonderful people.
(For those of you wondering, we have had the wheel studs repaired here in Exmouth and some time in the next week or so should get the replacement tyre and then hopefully this chapter of our car woes will be behind us.)