It was about 260 kms to Birdwood Downs and the plan was for lunch alongside the coast in Derby then on to B.D. …
Then the flat tire...
It was our van and thank goodness I wasn't driving because it was one horrible noise and it took Joseph a minute to realize what it was and steer if off the road with the wheel almost on fire. It left a charcoal track off the road and the smell of burning rubber was suffocating … and so was the heat. It was supposed to be 36c but we all agreed it was much hotter than that.
Luckily (there's always a silver lining) the tire was not on the road side of the van, so we wound out the awning for a bit of shade and grabbed some shade cloths for the "boys" to lie down and start the process of changing the tire.
They found the toolset and jack, they found the spot to put the jack, they found the spare tyre (under the chassis) and they loosened the flat tyre… but they couldn't get the spare out!
All four of them gave it the "good 'ol Aussie "go"" but it wouldn't budge and they were getting hotter and hotter. So we conceded and called the company we bought the van from who told them they were doing the right thing but it was obviously stuck and so we should call Prima Care.
Without even knowing it we had signed up for the "24hr Roadside Assistance Prima Care" plan and so we called them on my trusty iPhone on the (expensive)Telstra 3G network that, as promised "covered most of Australia, and the boy on the other end found our policy, and while we all baked in the hot sun he updated our details (we had changed registration from NSW to S.A.) and then he told us somebody would be out "there" in half an hour.
(We were 40kms from Derby.)
So we started the other vans and had lunch and took it in turns to sit in the driver & passenger seat with the a.c. and then MIKE arrived.
|Waiting for MIKE!|
Luckily MIKE had called to check on our exact location and verified what kind of vehicle we had and luckily MIKE found out that it was a Fiat that required different tools than he usually carried so when MIKE arrived he was ready. MIKE was an ex Airforce mechanic - a hefty fellow with huge arms covered in tattoos of pistons (yes pistons) and two lovely shining studs in the back of his neck - and it turns out that not even MIKE could release the tyre. But MIKE (god bless his sole) drove back in to Derby and drove back with a brand new tyre and he installed it for the "boys" and it only cost us $200 (for the tyre) - everything else was covered by Prima Care. We are very happy we signed up for Prima Care. (Turns out there was a huge bolt stuck in the tyre that caused it to heat up and finally blow but MIKE has the photo.)
I'm sorry I didn't get a photo of MIKE!
While Mike was doing his bit, the other three vans drove onto Birdwood Downs - a station (cattle ranch) that was trying innovative methods of organic farming and sustainability and also offered cabins or camping sites without power. We were the only "campers" - the only people for that matter - except for the "woofers" doing maintenance on the cabins. So we set up under some trees and J&K and our van, with it's shiny new tyre, arrived and we enjoyed our meal in the dark and watching the stars (and meteors) because there was no horrible bright lights out here and the stars were spectacular and we forgot about the horror that was most of the day.
Sadly the tiny bit of breeze disappeared as we headed for bed and it must have stayed at close to 30c for most of the night so, even though we really liked it out there (the toilets/showers were quite nice with the (real) frogs lining the walls) I was OK that we decided one night was enough and we were off to Fitzroy Crossing … with power