Published: July 14th 2012
July 11th 2012
After leaving Rubyvale, we made it about 50km down the road before coming to a halt at Theresa Creek which was flooded due to all the recent rainfall. The depth marker showed that the water was one metre above the bridge, so there was no way we were going to be going anywhere for a while. Our only options were to either take the three-hour detour or stay put until the water level dropped. We went with the latter. My answer to the situation was to have an early lunch and Dean’s was to polish the van and make some chips! The next few hours saw us making lots of cups of tea, stuffing our faces, playing games, cracking open a bottle of wine, searching for dry wood and lighting a campfire.Dean monitored the water level by putting a stick in the mud; unfortunately it was still too high at nightfall so we decided to camp out and wait for the morning.
It was a beautiful evening and the only downside was the abundance of bloodthirsty mosquitoes! I cannot recount how many we killed, some of them filled to the brim with (presumably my) blood. Not even
tropical strength mozzie repellent could keep those monsters at bay. But that aside, what started as an unplanned inconvenience turned into a beautiful afternoon and evening. It pretty much summed up what this trip is really all about: taking experiences as they come, getting back to nature in the bush and, instead of having to be somewhere for any reason, simply living in the moment.
In the morning, we were delighted to wake up to the sounds of vehicles passing us and the sight of a dry bridge. We set off in high spirits… making it another 8km down the road before we came to Retro Creek which was also flooded!! This dampened our spirits somewhat but we decided we might as well wait here too… after all the water level would have to drop at some point.
Several 4x4s and trucks made it through the ford alright and a farmer in a 4x4 told us that he had helped a Ford Sedan driver pass through the water by closely driving in front of him, thus parting the water. We felt somewhat uncertain but reasoned that our van was higher than a Sedan and
that we didn’t have much to lose. BIG MISTAKE! Halfway through the ford our engine died on us. We were at the deepest point of the water and our van was dead as a dodo. After several unsuccessful attempts at restarting it, we were able to borrow a towing rope and our buddy reversed back into the water. Wading around in the water, his son and Dean tried to locate the tow point which was, of course, under water. As soon as the rope was secured our buddy drove forwards and all we could hear was a deafening crunch followed by the sound of high pressure air escaping. Apparently, the rope hadn’t been attached to the tow point but to our air conditioning pipe… which was now wrecked. By this point we just couldn’t believe this was happening and I’ve rarely seen Dean so worried. A further attempt saw the rope attached to the right spot and we were safely dragged onto dry land.
With our engine full of water, there wasn’t much we could do apart from call Roadside Assist. Our insurance doesn’t cover us for any repairs but thankfully it includes a tow of up
to 20km in rural areas. The village of Capella was 15km away! Whilst waiting for the tow guy, we thought might as well make use of the little mobile reception we had and phone the local mechanic to get his advice. He suggested that we remove the preheating elements (it’s a diesel, thank goodness!) and turn the engine over to drive the water out of the cylinders. And boy, were those cylinders full! I almost jumped out of my skin when Dean turned the key in the ignition and copious amounts of hot oily water exploded all over the cab of the van. It was when Dean uttered ‘hallelujah’ and breathed a sigh of relief that I realised this was a good thing. So we kept pumping the water out of the cylinders for the next 10 minutes or so, put everything back together and held our breath as Dean turned the key in the ignition again. And it started!!
As it turns out, the water got into our engine because our air filter is only about 20cm off the ground. What a silly place to put an air filter! In a way it’s a miracle that
we hadn’t drowned the engine before, considering how many creeks we drive through. Retro Creek was, however, by far the deepest and in hindsight a very foolish one to attempt to cross. Of course the tow truck arrived just as we had restarted the van but we didn’t particularly fancy driving without an air filter, so we took the ride to Capella.
The village mechanic didn’t have the right replacement filter, so he ordered one for delivery the morning and we checked into the local caravan park. Our luck must have run out because the filter was missing from the next day’s delivery. As the old one was by then only soggy, rather than dripping wet, we popped it back in its place and hit the road to Mackay where we hope to pick up a new one. The $400 air conditioning repair will have to wait until we have worked for a while and the weather is a little warmer.
Recalling all this, I’m actually quite surprised by how calm I felt throughout the whole drama. I even became quite philosophical and said to Dean, before he tried to start the engine, that
the purpose of this was for us to learn a lesson and that lesson had been well and truly learnt, so there was no reason why we shouldn’t be able to continue on our way now. Who knows if that was the case but, since then, we just love the sound of our engine starting!!!
There are more photos below