We drove 113ks down the Old Ghan Track from Alice to Finke and all was fine. Then we got off the road, crossing the race track to set up camp and that’s when it happened. Bogged in sand!
It was my own fault. As the track was firm I hadn’t let my tyre pressure down. I was following a couple of other cars we’re camping with, and they weren’t sure exactly where we were going to camp so were driving slowly. Instead of waiting until they’d decided where to stop and then following them off the track, I continued straight on after them. Of course, with tyre pressure too high and momentum too slow, I didn’t make it up the mound into the camping area.
Of course, as soon as I got stuck lots of blokes gathered around. “Put it in 4WD” they all very helpfully suggested, then shook their heads sorrowfully when told it wasn’t a 4WD vehicle.
One of the blokes we’re camping with towed me (behind his Cruiser) and put the car next to a tree where it can sit until we’re leaving again.
I was feeling a bit of a pratt until a few of the cars and even some of the bikes in the race also got stuck in the sand here. One of them even had to be towed out. That was a Rover, so they’re probably lucky they made it this far!
Oh well, there are worse places to be stuck!
Oops, I spoke too soon. We got bogged again, and once again it was on the Finke race track.
Helen decided she wanted to go south through Finke and across to Uluru rather than back up to Alice and through the West Macs first. The other people we were camping with were going that way so we followed them – after they towed me out that is.
About 25k down the track we all pulled over. Now when I say track, I really mean corrugations. These were worse than on the Cape. There were times when I was fighting the car to keep it on the road. If it wasn’t corrugtions it was sand, and I hadn’t let my tyres down even now!
We passed a few people that seemed to be having difficulty, but had others with them, then we pulled over right next to somebody else who had lost their front wheel – yes, the whole thing. I thought we pulled over to help them out, but soon discovered that our leading vehicle had done his shockies. And that was a Cruiser! What hope did I have of finishing this road????
But I kept going – over the corrugations, through the sand, across the gravel. I thought I was done for when I had to stop at a cut-out to let another car through first, and I was in sand. But I took it easy and I made it through. But there was more sand to come, and every time I had to fight the car to keep it straight and keep it going. Helen grabbed the door handle a few times – to keep herself in the car or let herself out quickly I’m not sure. Using her best mental health nurse characteristics she said nothing.
Finally, we were nearly in Finke. The race track just out of Finke merges and travels with the road for about 5k before Finke. Then a couple of kilometres from the finish line it diverges again. Unfortunately for me (and for my car) I didn’t see where it diverged. It was dusk and the light was low, and I was following the signs – stupidly because they were the signs to tell the competitors where to go.
One minute I was sitting there saying “Ha, ha, we’re on the race track”, the next I was saying “F***, we’re on the race track” as the car bounced over the whoops.
For those not in the know (and I wasn’t before this weekend) “whoops” are those great big bumps of hills which really good bike riders seem to glide over, and others bounce and slide, sure they’re going to have concussion by the end as their head is bounded around like a rag doll. Well, the Triton isn’t a bike and I wasn’t expecting it, so we bounced, and bounced hard. I didn’t get concussion, but I did shake things around in the back.
The first thing I thought as I hit the bumps was “F***, what am I going to do to the car?” Then I smelt something and thought “F****, what have I done to the car?”. Panic set in as I identified the smell as gas, then confusion as I realized the car doesn’t run on gas. Then I realized it was the gas bottle in the back, which had bounced out of its moorings and somehow turned on. I quickly turned it off, and pulled it out of the back, leaving all the windows open to try to clear any residual gas. Then I had to clean out the back of all the rubbish (and broken glass) that had flown everywhere.
I let the tyres down and decided to try to drive out. The other cars we were travelling with had come back to make sure I was OK, and watched as I reversed back to the road. All was OK for about 50 metres, then I hit soft sand and that was it. I had to be towed back to the road.
But we’ve done it – got bogged and made it through. We haven’t done a shockie, or anything else. Which is more than I can say for some of the 4WDs we’ve been travelling with. And now we’re sitting at Uluru. And next on the list (after a few days exploring here) is the West Macs.
I can’t wait for the next adventure!