Breakdowns & Wet.

Trip Start Feb 01, 2005
Trip End Dec 31, 2018

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Flag of Australia  , Western Australia,
Monday, February 13, 2006

With the very real possibility that the road ahead to Newman would be closing, we set off at 6.00am and all was going well until we were about 30 kilometres outside of Nullagine and our Rooster (as we affectionately call our camper van) just stopped dead. As we tried to work through the possible causes the realization dawned that we had not seen one single vehicle the whole time since Marble Bar going in either direction! The road had probably been closed soon after we set off. We sat by the road and waited and waited. Eventually after about 6 hours we saw a Main Roads vehicle heading towards us. The driver introduced himself as Billy and confirmed that the road was indeed closed and he was on his way to check the depth of the rivers ahead and the only way for us to get assistance would be for him to tow us to Nullagine. We gratefully accepted his offer but just outside the town we came to a stop on the banks of the Tailor River which was flowing very fast and deep. Billy decided that it was too risky to tow us through with his Hilux and so used his satellite phone to call the RAC for us. The RAC on discovering we were on a closed road, with further torrential rain forecast, went into panic mode and called the police at Nullagine.

Within a few minutes the police arrived on the other side of the river and one waded across and proceeded to give us a very good telling off for being on the road. After we established that it had actually been open when we had left, verified by Billy, he then suggested we should turn around and go back the way we had come! duhhhhhhh - we said we would if we could - we were broken down!!!! The penny dropped and he was then very helpful and towed us through the river with his Landcruiser and to the caravan park where we were the only guests. There was no mechanic in Nullagine, a tiny mostly aboriginal community, but to our amazement two prospector bush mechanics (Toyota owners) started looking for the problem straight away, and for a carton of beer, got us going again! It turned out that the immobilizer had just ceased to work and so they rerouted the wiring, minus the immobilizer and we were mobile again, BUT with nowhere to go as now all roads in every direction were closed.

After a horribly hot night, getting eaten alive by mosquito's, we heard about mid-morning that the main roads had opened the road going back to Marble Bar. We decided we would back track and try to return to the coastal highway. The locals in Nullagine told us that once they were isolated for 103 days by floods in the wet so the idea of backtracking to get out had more appeal than that prospect!

Back in Marble Bar we were devastated to learn that the road to Port Hedland had been briefly opened that morning for trucks and 4 wheel drives with a police escort but was firmly closed again to all traffic due to river depths and the local police advised us we would have stay put for a few days at least.

Well Marble Bar is not the most exciting place to be stranded let me tell you! The days were hot, humid and seemed to last forever. It was too hot to sleep in the day and any way the flies wouldn't let you and the mosquito's kept us awake at night, as they had learned how to circumnavigate our mosquito net.

Never have we been so pleased as when a Main Roads Department fax came to the caravan park telling us that the road back to Port Hedland had been opened for 4 wheel drives and trucks, but that extreme caution had to be used at river crossings. The Shaw River posed a real challenge as it was very deep and fast flowing but we got through and finally arrived in a hot and steamy Port Hedland, pleased to be out and back on highway one again, after 6 days of getting nowhere.

Our trip back South after this was pretty uneventful. We arrived in Horrocks Beach 79 kilometres north of Geraldton and had a few lovely days in this peaceful laid back town enjoying sea breezes that had been so absent when we were trapped inland. From there it was an easy stretch back to Perth.
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