On the road again,
Just can’t wait to get on the road again.
Hang on a second, I’m on the road, well I’m on something that resembles a road. An eight metre wide strip of red dirt with pot holes big enough to loose a truck in and bone jarring corrugations. How anyone out here thinks that driving at more than fifty kilometres an hour is fun is beyond me. I kind of like all my internal organs where they belong not shaken like a James Bond Martini.
I was headed out to rescue a Norwegian family of four, Mum, Dad and two kids, one of each flavour I believe. They’d gotten their rental four wheel drive stuck in the Elvire River, they were only about forty kilometres from town which made my job easier because I wouldn’t even have to spend the night sleeping in the Beast.
From the information I had at hand the family were on an eight month holiday, they had come from Perth a few weeks earlier and while attempting a fairly simple river crossing at the south west end of the Elvire River they had become stuck. The vehicle was apparently still in the water but the water in that section of the river was low enough that it wasn’t swamping the Toyota Landcruiser.
I knew the area they were stuck very well, it was a shallow slow flowing river crossing with a largely rocky base, getting stuck there was not common but it could easily happen. The family had reported that the Toyota’s engine was running and they had not broken anything, they were just stuck. Toyota’s weren’t my favourite or even go-to vehicle in the great Aussie bush, especially not in the last twenty years where they are little better than any other vehicle, but in most cases they were reliable so when I was told the engine was operational I believed it.
Of course there could have been a other issues that saw the vehicle stuck in the slow flowing river but it was pointless asking for Anders for more information because I asked him repeated times if he was bogged or broken down he just kept repeating the word “stuck”. There was no way I could carry enough spare parts for every eventuality even when I knew the make and model of the vehicles I was rescuing, that’s why I had the Beast, so rather than make it an issue on the phone I simple accepted the term stuck. Even if the Land Cruiser was broken down and not just bogged I’d just give it a piggy back into town where it could be looked at by the Halls Creek mechanic, Lucas.
You might wonder why I don’t look at and repair these vehicles myself, after all I do what I can out in the bush when there is few other choices and I do have a well set up garage. But the answers are simple, firstly I just don’t always have the time to fix other peoples vehicles. Secondly and most importantly I don’t want to take business off Lucas, he’s a good bloke, but it’s also not very neighbourly to take business from friends in such a small town.
When I turned off Duncan Road and onto the dirt tracks that lead down to the Elvire River it was still before lunch but the heat was definitely there, according to the temperature gauge on the dashboard it was 37 outside. Even with my speed dropping down to less than twenty kilometres per hour I knew I still had about twenty minutes before I would reach my destination. Given that the family were in a rental vehicle that was stranded in a river I figured the chances of them having a hand held radio were slim so I decided not to try and call them on the radio unless I really needed to.
My estimation wasn’t far off, it took me twenty two minutes to reach the river where the Toyota Landcruiser was parked. As usual I approached the rescue site with caution and surveyed the area around me before I got out of the Beast, like most people who see the Beast approaching the family didn’t approach me in the few minutes I took too assess things.
Sure enough as I had been led to believe the Toyota was parked in the water, it was facing me and the front end was higher than the back end indicating to me that the rear wheels were stuck in a hole. Given the rocks at the bottom of some of these river crossing and what they could hide it was more common than you might think for a capable four wheel drive to get stuck in the river. The water was lapping the top of the rear tyres but because of the angle of the vehicle it was only lapping the hubs at the front. The water wasn’t flowing fast and hooking it to my winch and dragging it out should not have posed any risk at all.
I climbed out of the Beast and went over to introduce myself. As I’ve said the party were a Norwegian family, Mum, Dad, and two kids. Kala, Anders, Madli and Racin. Both the kids were teenagers and Madli was thirteen a year younger than her brother. They were four weeks into an eight month tour around Australia and they were stuck in a river.
In the words of Anders, actually no I wont do it in his words because they were a little hard to understand, I’ll do it in my words. What had happened was that they’d come through Halls Creek not long after I left to get Jarrod and Gary, they even stayed the night at the pub, not that those two facts had anything to do with why they were stuck, they were just part of the story. They’d left Halls about the same time as we were passing the Stormtrooper and they decided they wanted to spend the night camping so rather than head miles into the bush and find their first camp out was a disaster they did it close to town. I had to give them credit for that.
After a successful first camp out they’d packed up their stuff and decided to do a little exploring before heading back to Halls for lunch. They then planned to take the bitumen northward towards their next stop which would be Kununurra. However their plans were changed slightly when Andres decided to cross the Elvire River, he’d seen it done on the Internet and given how shallow the water was he thought he could do it himself. Unfortunately that wasn’t the case.
With all the formalities over it was time for me to get the Landcruiser out of the water and get the family back on the road. Had the water been any deeper than it was and had the temperature been cooler I would definitely have put on my waders but I figured twice into the water, once for an inspection and once to attach the tow hook, was not going to be an issue and putting the waders on would just mean things took longer.
With the water lapping just below my knees I approached the front of the four wheel drive, it was at that moment I saw it.
Previous Desert Rescue story here.