MONDAY 26 APRIL MT IVE
This morning, we set out to drive the station 4WD track known as the Flight Path, following the station directions and mud map. This mustering track heads off into the hilly country to the east of the homestead. Although only about 30kms, it should take 4-5 hours to drive.
It was stony and quite slow going, in parts, through country that grew more interesting as we left the station structures – like big dams – behind.
Unfortunately, couldn’t leave signs of humans behind. Some filthy recent camper had emptied a toilet cassette right beside the track.
After about 10 kms, we crawled down a steep, rocky descent, to a little creek gully, with a rise out of it on the other side. We were about 100 metres ahead of M. Then she radioed, to say that “Bessie” was stuck in low range neutral drive, in the gully at the bottom of the steep slope. We reversed back to her. She said she had engaged low range at the top of the hill, but had thought, coming down, that it did not feel like she was really in low range at all – Bessie was going too fast. But, at the bottom, she could not change the gears at all.
John used our snatch strap to tow her a short way – out of the creek bed.
That didn’t help much. She just had no gears. As instructed for those who had issues on the station tracks, M radioed the station and they said they would send a couple of guys out. They arrived, after about half an hour, and were very nice about being called away from normal duties. They decided it was probably a gear selector problem, fiddled about and thought they had fixed it – by getting under the Troopy and poking the selector up, with a screw driver. She had gears again!
They confirmed what it looked like on the map, that the Flight Path track intersected the Peters Pillars track, up ahead, so we could bail out of doing the full Flight Path route, and go back an easier way on the main tracks, also easier going than returning the way we’d come. This seemed prudent, with a suspect vehicle, though it was a pity to miss out on seeing the rougher parts. They left to go back the way they’d come out, and we continued on. Then, M realized that, in fact, she now only had low range gears, so it was a slow trip back to camp!
The country we went through was varied and interesting. Where M had broken down, there were lots of spiders – big spiders – on the ground. I was not going to get close enough to those things to take a photo of them, though.
When we crawled back into camp, a man from the RAA was there, fixing our neighbour’s vehicle. That was fortunate, in more than one way. He’d thought he’d fixed their yesterday’s problem, packed up to go, then found it wasn’t right after all. I guess his error saved him a second trip back out here, and us some time hanging about waiting for him. He said he would tackle the Troopy when he’d finished the first job.
Last year, on her way back from the Canning Stock Route trip, M had a gearbox selector seal replaced, in Alice Springs. It seemed that mechanic had not replaced the selector arm properly. Today had been the first time, since then, that she’d tried to use the lowest gears and hence the problem showed up. Bit scary, really – that work had been done at a proper Toyota place.
While the repair work was happening, John and I went for a walk part-way up the hill behind the camp area, on a road track.
The place was almost empty again – lovely!
Tea was pasta and bottled pesto. We’d had the usual happy hour before hand. During this, John decided to set up our van TV in M’s living tent, in order to watch a film. I said I preferred the quiet of the bush, not damned TV, but he persisted. I guess it made a change for M, from just reading and doing crosswords.
I left them to it, and went early to bed. After a while, rain started. Then it got so heavy they couldn’t hear the film, so abandoned it. Karma……