Early Easter 4WD Misadventure

We set out Tuesday lunchtime with the camper planning to see some of the Snowy River before returning Thursday night….the best laid plans, as they say….
First problem was in the change of destination en-route…we thought that time was a bit short, so perhaps we should explore the Caledonia river area instead. First night was lovely, on the Barkly river, but things were not so idyllic after that. We headed into the Macalister, and the track deteriorated greatly. Some sections were very steep and clayey, so with rain forecast, we decided that we would not risk returning the same way and consulted the ‘rooftop campers’ map; no worries, 3 possible alternative exits…after around 10 river crossings (do-able) the track degenerated further…the “short rocky sections” described on the map turned out to be precipitous steps which Steve negotiated valiantly. By around 3 pm Wednesday we were looking forward to the end of the track (called the “Butchers Country Track” by the way, should you wish to avoid it!) in around 20 km. Then disaster struck: a huge step broke the tailshaft. The truck was stuck, immovable, just over the step, at a 30 degree angle. What to do? We secured it to a tree with a hand winch and pulled it a couple of metres onto a flatter section of road, then used the trusty satellite phone to call for assistance. Thanks to Merrin and Matt for running around looking for parts and being control centre, and overwhelming gratitude to Reg and Di Stirling for driving 6 hours each way and negotiating the last 20 km of the nightmare track to bring a new tail shaft for installation. This, of course, took a lot of time. We slept Wednesday night at a crazy angle in the camper secured in the middle of the road while the rain poured down. Our second night, with the truck repaired but light fading, was more convivially spend camping with Reg and Di in a more secure spot off the road! In short: totally overwhelmed by the goodness of people like Reg and Di, and totally ‘over’ 4WD tracks in such poor condition. Photos: didn’t take too many ‘happy holiday snaps’ – but here you can see baby Spot napping en route and also enjoying the 4WD experience with Tiny, and finally the camper on its angle in the middle of the road – an odd sleeping experience!

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