Well, I intended to be writing this week’s article from the comfort of my Gracetown residence, with all our camping, boating and travelling gear from the last six months nicely cleaned up, packed away and ready for the next sojourn, but alas not to be. After 15,000km of travel, the last leg threw us a wildcard.
Travelling home was exciting for Viv and I as we debriefed the last six months work and generally appreciated a trip with no major incidents. With 400kms to go, we had made the decision to drive through Perth after peak hour and then possibly continue on home. The winding, hilly section of the Great Northern Highway north of Bindoon was road train city at 5pm and a quick glance at the temperature gauge revealed a slight rise. However, on the next hill the gauge went in the red, so I immediately backed off and pulled over into the next parking bay, the tiniest one I had ever seen, on the other side of the road and on a steep hill. With hazard lights on, I left the engine running just above idle to minimise damage, but within minutes a road train powered into the parking bay and I knew we had to get out of there quick. No further overheating of the engine was the first priority and so after an hour or so I added coolant and water. Fortunately we crawled into another bay 5 kms up the road where a further inspection revealed a spurt of coolant from the water pump.
I was soon reflecting on the benefits of having Ultimate Plus RAC Roadside Assistance and so a few phone calls later we were advised that the local service provider would call out the next morning to inspect the truck. A roadside repair was not possible and being 13 metres long (truck and boat) plus 3.9 metres high, was always going to pose a few towing issues. When the two tow vehicles arrived the next day they realised that the WA general vehicle height limit of 4.3 metres would be exceeded once the truck/camper was positioned on the tow truck tray, which was 1.2metres high-umm! They were about to cancel the job, when I called a quick ‘pow wow’. I was thinking I could sit here for days waiting for a heavy vehicle tow, main roads permit, etc, so came up with a plan to get us home, get these guys the tow job and ensure my gear was not left stranded on the highway. We hooked one tow truck to the boat, topped my engine up with water/coolant again, positioned the second two truck behind me with hazard lights on and meandered into Gingin at 40km/h. Once the slide on camper was detached from the truck and tucked away in their compound, there were no height issues, so the truck was then towed to my mechanic’s workshop in Busselton ( with Viv and I too ). Fortunately, waiting for us there was our good mate, Des, who safely delivered us and the boat home. So yes, a somewhat inglorious finish to the trip, but plenty of positives came out of it. No injuries, no major damage to gear, no cost for the tows and the breakdown didn’t occur in a remote Kimberley location. Big thanks to Paul at Gingin Recovery and Dale for the pleasant chauffer drive in the tow truck. See you guys soon when I return to pick up the camper!
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