OUTBACK TRAVEL DISASTERS
Preparation! you might hear this word a lot. But in my experience it doesn’t matter how much prep’s done anything can happen. I have had my fair share of experiences blown engines, gearboxes, diffs, radiators and much more!
Having some mechanical knowledge will be a massive advantage. Know how and resources can really make a difference from being stuck for a day or a month!
My best advice I give anyone willing to travel is get “Premium” roadside assistance. There is different levels of roadside assistance and a lot of people make the mistake to just settle for the cheaper option WRONG! Go the whole hog and get the best you can, there is a reason it’s dearer.
We pay $230 a year for our NRMA premium care and it has saved us multiple times. Having up to $3,000 in recovery funds. Our vehicle has been on the back of a tow truck multiple times from $150 tows to $1,500 tows. We have spent 5 nights accommodation while waiting for parts. Even hired cars while waiting for repairs, it’s cheap insurance!
Cape York 2013
Our first major trip to Cape York in 2013 had its fair share of problems. Even though I had made sure every part on my trusty Hilux was serviced or renewed. We still came into strife with two seized alternators. Amazingly it happened at the same spot 30kms out of Bramwell junction. The first alternator was on the way up, it was an easy fix as I had a spare one with me, so I quickly changed it and away we went again.
The second one was around the same spot while heading back down south. We ended up getting towed by a nice Korean fella back to Bramwell and settled in for the night. The next morning the tow truck arrived and took us to Weipa. 5 days it took to receive another alternator.
Upon further inspection the brand new external regulator that was fitted one week before we left home was actually faulty. Instead of regulating around 14 volts it was pumping 18 volts. This ended up frying the internal brushes, welding the components together.
Our second trip on a tow truck happened on the same trip but a lot closer to home. For some reason the gearbox got stuck in fourth gear. While running low on fuel we decided to bypass the next servo stop and run the gauntlet. We made it just off the highway at some road works on a steep hill, I decided this was far enough.
We called NRMA and out came a tow truck. The beauty with premium care is we can have the car dropped wherever we wanted. So straight to my sister’s house and the gearbox was out in a matter of hours. Unfortunately we had to get a replacement gearbox which was then shipped up from Newcastle the very next day. Straight in with the new box and off home we went. That holiday used up $2300 in NRMA resources and all we paid was $230.
Cape York 2015
My last trip to Cape was in 2015 which was a boys trip, let me tell you it was unforgettable!
Bad luck doesn’t care what you drive!
As the picture above shows yes another tow truck trip! If you think updating cars, limits your risk to exposure believe me bad luck doesn’t care what you drive! Around 200kms south of Normanton QLD, travelling along doing the standard 100kph, out of no where Bang goes the engine! Oil spewing out of the exhaust and engine everywhere, putting oil in didn’t help at all. 5kms of trying to keep moving, we decided to pull up and hope that someone could stop to help.
Eventually some older blokes travelling to Karumba for a fishing trip towing a boat and a caravan. They unhitched the caravan and towed us to the Burke & Wills Roadhouse which was 35kms down the road. Beers all round for the boys that helped out! NRMA sent a tow truck but instead of going backwards to Cloncurry. I decided to get it towed to Normanton. Nothing better than going fishing while you drink away your sorrows.
In the end the car was left there at the caravan park. 2 weeks later with a car trailer we picked it up and brought it home. Once again NRMA footed the bill but this time it was the full $3000. 3 nights at the caravan park, a flight home from cairns and they paid for all the fuel costs to recover the vehicle. For a low-cost of $230 a year.
No matter what style of travelling you do, for a small fee, roadside assistance is money well spent!