Last Sunday I set out on a journey to a meeting.
It was a trip which had an interesting middle bit.
Travelling out on the Sunday I arrived in Newman, saw the mechanic who was to fix a problem with the Land Cruiser and headed on out to the meeting. Another 400 Km.
Things went fine for around 250Km, reasonable road and lots of photographs were taken. Then I hit an area known as “The Desert Oaks.” Lots of corrugated sandy road. Violently corrugated sandy road. The sort of corrugations it is impossible to drive over comfortably at any speed. I dropped down to around 20KmpH and bounced and jolted along aroiund 70Km of sheer torture.
I got to the meeting place, had a great meeting on the Tuesday and set off to return to Newman late in the afternoon. I was looking forward to camping out under the stars. Something I haven’t done for a couple of years.
Returning over the vicious sandy corrugations, I blew the fuse to my radio, which had been working quite well in the cool night air. That fuse also ran the cigarette lighter which was being used to power the little cooler in which I keep my drinks and food. I had a bit of a grumble but wasn’t all that concerned.
When I reached the gate of the Vermin-Proof Fence which crosses the road around 200Km from Newman I pulled off the road, switched off the engine and set up camp in the dark. Eight o’clock was early for me to be climbing into my swag but I was hoping for an early start and possibly some nice dawn photos.
Watching the moon set and the stars move across the sky was nice.
The dawn was interesting and the best image went onto my sky watch post on Friday.
The I started the Land Cruiser.
I TRIED to start the Land Cruiser.
I realised that, although the engine turned over, there were no lights on the dash.
There was a severe electrical problem.
I am not a mechanic or an auto-electrician so I knew I was in strife. There is little traffic out on the Talawani Track.
I knew I had water for a couple of days and food for one day so I wasn’t panicking.
After several hours a vehicle stopped at the gate, heading out into the desert. Richard, a geologist, kindly allowed me to use his Satellite Phone and I was able to let the Punmu people know of my plight. Some suggestions were made as to what may have been the problem but nothing seemed to work. Richard moved on to his day job and I settled down to finish “The Well of Lost Plots.”
Around 4pm, Richard re-appeared, heading back to Newman. We attempted a tow but the steering and brakes need engine power to operate so we abandoned that idea after around 10Km. I used the Sat Phone again and found that one of the Teachers from Punmu was using the “Back Track from Punmu and was going to deviate and see what he could do for me. Richard left me with some extra water, just to be on the safe side.
I settled down again and as darkness fell, I climbed back into my swag and grabbed around four hours sleep. I was woken by the extremely bright head and spot lights of James’s car at around midnight. Food! Intelligent help with my problem.
By 2am we had isolated the problem to the lead running from the fuel pump to the solenoid (a technical term I wot not of) and with a very sparky connection between the battery and the fuel pump, the engine was started!
There are still problems such as being unable to switch the engine off from the ignition – I have to lift the bonnet and break that connection.
I arrived in Newman at around 4.30 am and waited to find an auto-electrician. It seems that was a wasted effort as there is not one in Newman!
I did my shopping and left Civilisation for the wilds of Punmu around 11am.
I knew it was going to be a longish trip, 650 Km, and that I would arrive after dark. So I had to push hard. Life was not made easy by the number of heavily laden and slowish road trains I had to follow for quite a while. Dark arrived, as it does, and I was into my final hour of the journey when the obvious happened.
The rear driver’s side tire blew!
I am a reasonable wheel changer so was able to complete this final test although I admit to casting many glances around me checking for any possible wrigglies which may have appeared.
I finally arrived home at 8pm. Safe and sound.
Yes, now that you mention it, after breakdowns, people do die on the roads out here. But normally only if they leave the vehicle or if they have failed to carry enough water. Six cars passed me during the 30 hours I was stuck, so it wasn’t a completely lonely time.
Interesting, a little bit scary and a lot frustrating, but not really frightening.
Richard was a huge help and was the difference between getting home and not getting home.
So that was my Wednesday this past week. How was yours?