No Spare!

Here’s how a simple breakdown put long-made plans at risk out on the Simpson

Recently we went on an epic outback adventure through some very rough and remote country. We crossed the Simpson Desert, tackled the Oodnadatta Track and we so very nearly made it through unscathed. However, as we pulled into the remote South Australian town of Marree just as the sun was setting, we heard a strange noise that got our attention. It was coming from the rear wheel of one of the cars in our convoy: my brother-in-law’s Pajero. By the time we checked into the campground and squeaked our way to our site, we had attracted the attention of some friendly fellow travellers who came over to see if they could help find what was wrong.

Bush Tele Diagnostics

After a quick yarn and moving the car backwards and forwards to try to pinpoint the problem, the local mechanic got word we were in trouble and came over to see. The general consensus was, it was a case of a loose stone versus a broken wheel bearing. As it was getting dark, we decided to set up camp for the night, have a few beers and deal with the problem in the morning. 

We were up at first light, packing up the rooftop tent so we could move the car to a concrete slab and start to take things apart to diagnose the problem further. It didn’t take long before the mechanic advised us that we were dealing with a broken wheel bearing. A relatively easy problem to fix as long as we can get a hold of the parts. Our hearts sank, the postal service only comes to town once a week on a Friday. It was only Wednesday and we had a cabin booked to check into on Thursday. We had booked this stay 6 months in advance and did not want to forgo it.

The parts come from a supplier in Port Augusta which is 400 kilometres to the south. We thought, let’s drive there and back! We had to set off early, too early to call the supplier to see if they had it in stock. Assured by the mechanic that it should be a common part and be available, we jumped in my ute, said goodbye to the wife and kids, and hit the road. Not taking any chances, we arranged the mechanic to call the parts supplier as soon as they opened.

Here’s that Spanner

It was smooth sailing heading down on the first bit of sealed road we had come across in over a week. There was plenty of wildlife to dodge along the way but we were making good time and pulled into a town to fill up on diesel. As we drove away from the township, my phone rang. Surprised we still had reception, I answered, and on the other end was my wife frantically telling me to PULL OVER, NOW! My first thoughts were OH MY GOD what’s happened? After the initial panic, and reassurance that everyone was ok, it turned out they didn’t want the call to drop out. The mechanic was wrong about the part being a common on-the-shelf item.  

In fact, it turned out no one in Port Augusta had the parts we needed and the best we could get is next day delivery in Port Augusta. So we turned around and headed back to Marree to be with our families back empty handed, well not entirely, we stopped at the Copley Hotel and got a bottle of the famed “The Copley Wobbly”.

Port Augusta-Bound Take Two!

The next morning we were on the road early again and this time we made it to Port Augusta, picked up the required parts, and a host of groceries for ourselves and some of the Marree locals. By the time we returned to Marree with supplies it was late afternoon. It wasn’t until the next day that the car was ready to hit the road again. We had managed to delay our check in on the next leg of our journey by a day and we made it to that destination right on sunset. Feeling very fortunate that we were able to fulfil our stay as planned. 

Our Awning Warning

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