Viewing entries in
vehicle

Broken glass, backroads and byways

Comment

Broken glass, backroads and byways

It's been tricky, but after having the windscreen cracked in 3-places, and the driver's window shattered - all within minutes - we've just managed to get the lot fixed in Longreach, Queensland one week later.

Tricky? Because our options from Birdsville - having mobile reception and from where we booked the repairs - were either Outback Mount Isa 700km north, or Outback Longreach 900km to the east. 

Mmmm... oh well, what's a few hundred extra kms between friends when on the road for 4-months and travelling over 20,000km on roads and tracks of assorted ilks? Interestingly though, it does seem to have been the sealed roads that are more if a problem - with the added factors of excessive speed and oncoming caravans - a spray of loose bluemetal often flicked up and catapulted in our general direction.

But it is especially disappointing to be hit with yet another stone, with another cracked windscreen today, only 1-day after the first lot of work was finished. Oh well... just another 'inconvenience', as long as it doesn't stop our travels.

Comment

Beyond the Bloomfield Track

Comment

Beyond the Bloomfield Track

It's a day's drive from Cooktown to the 537,000Ha Lakefield National Park, finally setting up camp at Horshoe Lagoon, a serene patch of water covered in white lillies and a favourite haunt of brolgas, parrots and assorted waterbirds.

At the end of the day we meet a group of twitchers camped across the way, having also arrived from Cooktown. "You've come from the south," they ask, eyebrows raised, "from the Daintree, then Cooktown?" We both nod. "You saw the accident on the Bloomfield?" Ah, no. We know nothing of any 'accident'.

Our neighbours are visibly shaken and tell us a vehicle travelling south towing a large trailor-van lost control on a downhill section of the Cowie Range. "You must have seen it!" The driver was badly injured, they tell us, the van and vehicle wrecked, with stunned onlookers sitting around while awaiting an ambulance.

We look at each other but say nothing. As it happens, we did pass an ambulance travelling south that morning... but with no siren and no apparent urgency.

We spend a restless night, our sleep disrupted by wild pigs that grunt and slosh in the shallows just metres from our parked truck... us bothered by thoughts of the Bloomfield Track - with its river crossings and one particularly steep section through the Cowie Range - and us travelling that same treacherous section of the Bloomfield Track uphill, needing low 4WD and 1st gear, maybe minutes before the accident.

The next day we briefly pick up some phone coverage while travelling, a Google search confirming the injured driver was killed on impact.

Postcript - 30 June 2017 - At Laura, Queensland, for the Cape York Aboriginal Dance Festival, a Daintree Parks Ranger tells us there have been 3- Daintree road fatalities in the last 2-months.

Comment

Sunday drive to Turkey Creek

Comment

Sunday drive to Turkey Creek

No, the above picture is not our truck. But there has been lots of rain, the remnants of Cyclone Debbie rending this Queensland track full of waterlogged potholes and a labyrinth of deep muddy ruts. And there's a flying army of biting midges whenever we dare get out of the truck.

We've come from Agnes Water on the coast, turning off to travel the 'scenic route' - only 20km as the crow flies - the track a winding dashed line on our iPad Hema maps... and it is shown on our truck GPS, so we've decided it really does exist and gone with it. It was odd though, for such a short distance, that the GPS added hours onto our anticipated trip time when we changed from its preferred route to our more 'scenic' pick.

We've been bumping along for hours now, dodging tree branches, ruts and flooded potholes as best we can. Amongst the paperbark swamp there's also the occasional creek crossing to deal with, and a local dry detour if we get lucky. For much of the time though, it's best that one of us walks on ahead to test the lay of the land, the depth of water or mud, and give directions... we like to nurse our precious truck as best we can.

There are hazards walking though, the aforementioned midges, my sandaled right foot sinks in a hole of stinking grey mud that sticks like glue... Sue says giving me the appearance of wearing one grey sock. There are also free-range bovine onlookers for the driver to negotiate from time to time, curious mostly, and tending to wander along the track with an air of nonchalant disdain.

Just here there's another bend on this character-building track we've chosen, when almost to the Turkey Beach turnoff... and the white Landcruiser Workmate ute bogged up to its axles.

Jason and Mack have time off from the mines, with Mack's father running a farm near here. They haven't gotten far though, with Mack seeming a little courageous to city slickers like us. In fact he may have chosen the most challenging route from 3-options right here. Nevertheless, Mack is happy to see us, his diff locks not working his recovery gear limited to a snatch strap, and a hydraulic barrel jack that he has somehow managed to prop under the rear axel but is now jammed stuck. He glances up and down the track.  "There's not much traffic about these parts."

As it happens, we have all the recovery gear, never used till now... and are more than happy to help out, knowing all too well that next time it could be us.

The Landcruiser ute comes out with a roar, a splash and a spray of mud, leaving Mack's hydraulic jack swallowed by the watery abyss, like some murky, muddy time capsule planted for another thrillseeking 4WD enthusiast to rediscover years from now.

Comment

Out with the old

Comment

Out with the old

I guess this post begins a couple of weeks back on Moreton Island, where we are presented with a sign from the tyre gods.

Sue has the rotten luck to be driving, and we turn off the beach onto one of the few inland tracks... all sand with the occasional rock and tree root here up north.

The going is slow, the track winding with plenty of sand at times. After seeing no-one for 24hrs, we are suddenly side stepping 6-vehicles in quick succession from the opposite direction.

To top off the difficulties, there's a hissing sound from outside on the rear driver's side - a flat tyre - and we are powering up a sandy incline.

Pulling over as best we can, the track's a little wider here, and a slash in the tyre side wall. We unbolt the Hi-Lift jack for its second outing. The sand is deepest just here, so it's a bit tricky, and it's nice that several passing trucks offer assistance... always a comforting thought when in the middle of 'nowhere'.

So, it seems after our 2nd flat, 50,000 kms and a fair bit of 4WD wear and tear, it's time to update our tyres while on the road. Mmmm... stuff can be tricky when travelling.

So we go with 4-brand new, the existing spares to be discarded and replaced with the 2-best of those currently on the truck... all ordered online while here in Bundaberg, with the balancing, fitting and alignment sorted for up ahead, at Toyota in Gladstone

Thank goodness for the travel gods in this case... and the internet.

Comment

On the road/off the road - day one done

Comment

On the road/off the road - day one done

Murphy's law is a funny thing. The truck is virtually new, barely run-in with a previous 3000km foray to Lake Eyre and back... and a climb up into the Victorian High country.

What could go wrong as we now - finally -  head off into the real wild blue yonder? Well... an 'engine malfunction' it seems, our indestructable Troopy truck maybe not so indestructible afterall.

It's 9pm, propped outside a servo in Waurne Ponds, Geelong - only about an hour south of Melbourne.

Seems it's a numbers game.... well... numbers and one letter to be exact, according to our RACV man, who stoops in front of the driver's seat peering under the dash. He holds an electronic device in his right hand and nods. "Mmmm... it does happen." He nods again, shows us the device display - "P2121" - and asks for some paper to jot something down.

It seems the throttle position sensor thinks there's a problem, triggering the 'engine malfunction' light and the engine switching to 'limp' mode with a loss of power.

With the sensor disabled, we continue on as normal to our first overnight at lakeside Ondit, and a fitfull sleep broken by the midnight meetings of grey nomads, thoughts of what we may have forgotten and nearby Paul Kelly campfire covers... oh, and the questionable comfort of a mechanic's advice that "the throttle sensor hiccup may never happen again."

Comment

Taming the beast

2 Comments

Taming the beast

No, it's not always about me. This time it's about the truck, and a fast-approaching day - March 2017 - when we finally head off.

Is our truck ready to go? We've added recovery points front and back, driving lights and tacked a twin spare wheel carrier frame on the back. So... almost ready... except for a few creature comforts... like some built-in cupboards and a fridge for example... oh, and a bed.

So, who have we entrusted to complete this final 'tweaking' to our beloved truck?

Well, it has to be someone who knows their stuff... someone like TRAKKA, fitting off-road beasties like ours since the 70s, their low key office and factory nestled in the bush of Mt Kuring-gai.

We browse through a TRAKKA REVIEW.

There'll be holes cut in the side, a new water tank, benches, battery, stove, sink, shower and fridge all added... among other stuff. Oh, and the roof will need to be cut off... mmmm... for the foldaway bed of course... with solar panels propped on top.

So, we take a collective deep breath, drop off the truck for its December `conversion', after driving 900-kms to Trakka, just north of Sydney; then with a tearful goodbye fly home.

Work begins, NOW WELL UNDERWAY, and we await the conversion of our go-anywhere 4×4 truck to a comfortable home away from home.

2 Comments

Biting the bullet - finally

Comment

Biting the bullet - finally

Let's just call this `day one'. Although it's not REALLY day one.

After 2yrs in Africa and Asia, this is the first time we don't have an ongoing air ticket... anywhere!!!

So, what to do? Well yeah, we have certainly pondered what comes after`WORLD', and now - golly, is that the time? - we've been `home' in `The World's most Livable City' since April... that's here in Melbourne btw.

Was it Chaucer that said "Time and tide wait for no man"?  Itchy feet? Mmmm, well maybe just a little. And the thought of jumping in a vehicle and heading off for some previously unthought of place for an indeterminate time does seem somehow alluring.

Do we need a plan? Well, we'll head off clockwise, summering down south. Oh...and try and pick up as many middle bits as possible too. Yeah, OK, so there's a little work to do... 

Will it be one year or two? Now... that is the question. We'll see.

It is true....thinking about this decision is not exactly new. We've pondered proposals on floating pontoon bars by Lagos Lagoon, among the patrons of Paris pancake parlors, in the teppanyaki kitchens of Tokyo, and by Berlin beer-halls. We've chatted in the subways of Seoul and New York City.

Australia outside Melbourne? Well yeah, there certainly is one. Mmmm... just a minute though, haven't we already seen most of The Lucky Country? 

Well, we have been to Darwin, Cairns and the Flinders Ranges. We've been lucky to have traversed The Nullarbor more than once and sailed the edge of the great Kimberley wilderness. We've driven the length of Fraser Island and suitably chilled-out in Byron Bay. We've even tackled the wilds of the Canberra capital.

But no, we haven't exactly seen`most of the place'. And there's always `Outback' of course - a notion more difficult to define.

So, time marches on - with the big departure date set for first thing March 2017. Plenty of time? No, not really...there's planning and equipment to sort. And yes, a `suitable' vehicle for our adventures - something robust, and `go-anywhere'.

Well, today there's some news. This is the day!

After browsing for some time we've found our truck - our future home - and the winner is... a white2014 Toyota Landcruiser GXL Troopcarrier.

OK, so that's a start... along with Navigation software and a 4WD Raster Map collection. 

Oh, have I forgotten something? We need a blog?... another blog? (Yes, I know, I'm already involved in 2, one being iancochrane.com.au - a collection of short stories on people and places - and the other being TravelnRavel - a wandering bird's-eye overview of most things even vaguely related to travel.)

Well... we really do need a blog for our roadtrip around Australia. But what will we call this new blog? Now... that can't be too difficult.

So, here we are, at the beginning of yet another work in motion. But, it is early days... and there will be tweaks as we go.

WHAT'S NEXT? - a few local Victorian roadtrips and getting to know the truck we've just bought. And more thinking about what we need and where we go from here.

 

 

Comment