“I just want to spend some valuable up close and personal time with my beloved sister!” Matthew said in response to me asking what he wanted to do while staying in my neck of the woods.
“And I think I’m going to spend some valuable time out the back of the shed hurling my guts up!” I replied in kind.
“See, it’s this warmth and charm that keeps the visitors coming back to spend time with you.”
“And it’s my…” My words were interrupted. I was just about to deliver Matthew the put down of his life and remind him who was the boss when my phone rang and saved him the embarrassment.
Of course I am only kidding, Matthew didn’t need reminding that I was the boss! No, seriously it was just a little bit of silly brother sister rivalry we both had fun with it and we had never really known any different. As kids we got told “no one else finds your silly games funny” but typical of us we didn’t really care what others thought, and we still don’t.
Anyway back to my phone. The voice on the other end was Nick’s.
“Good morning Sugar Plum.” Nick’s silly name for me instantly distinguished the call as light hearted and non urgent rather than an immediate call to arms, do not pass go, don’t not collect $200.
“Morning Columbo.” I paused then quickly added. “You put a spoonful of coffee in the cup then pour the water over the top and add milk to taste.”
“So, you got up on the witty side of the bed again this morning did you?” Nick asked. “Bet Matthew is loving that!”
“Matthew loves everything I do!” It wasn’t a smile Matthew was giving me as he heard only my side of the conversation, it had more tongue than that. “He’s sitting at the table eating his city boy breakfast and poking his tongue out at me. I think he’s asking if we can lock him in the cell again.”
Matthew’s tongue immediately disappeared and Nick spoke again, this time defending Matthew and suggesting he wouldn’t be locking Matthew up for a second time. After a little bit more light hearted banter Nick finally got around to the reason he called.
“Hey, I just had a drop in,” someone dropping into the station, “headed to Kununurra.” A town about three hundred kilometres north.
“That’s nice.” I interrupted.
“Yeah, yeah.” he replied trying his best to ignore my interruption. “Anyway, they’ve come in from Fitzroy this morning.“ He was referring to Fitzroy Crossing, a town not quite as far to the west as Kununurra is to the north. I let him continue without interruption. “About ninety clicks from here they were stopped by the crew of a removalist truck stuck in the sand beside the road.”
“Dingo Gully?” I asked suggesting that the truck might have been stuck in the well hidden, off the road, parking area referred to by Nick and I as such because we often saw dingoes crowding there early in the very early morning looking for food.
“Yeah I believe so, going by their description. There is limited other places with the room to pull a truck off the road within that distance.”
“Yeah and the sand in that area is pretty dodgy if you get off line too far. Wouldn’t take much, especially if pulling up in the dark.” I said.
I knew mobile phone signal was almost non-existent in that area of the highway and depending on the satellite phone used even that could be dodgy at times, so having the occupants of the truck not call us directly was hardly surprising.
Nick continued. “Apparently they are stranded, no phone, can’t get themselves out. Figured since we were closer I’d call you and see if you wanted to give it a go first before we call heavy haulage from Broome.”
Heavy haulage from the town of Broome was at least seven hours away and that was only if they could leave immediately. Given we were only about ninety minutes away the decision wasn’t a difficult one.
“How big is the truck?”
“I was told it was big.” Unfortunately the term big is one of those terms we hear quite often when some people describe trucks but it’s also one of those terms that is completely useless to us given that some people’s idea of big is a three tonner with a rubber band engine, even the Beast is bigger than that. It was for that reason Nick had sheet of paper under the front desk with several images of different size trucks on it. “However the best I could get out of them was that it might have been about the fifteen tonne range.”
Removalist trucks were a semi regular sight on the highway through town which was the main road between Darwin and Perth. Sometimes the trucks were the smallish five ton pantechs you see in the city, more often though they would be twelve to eighteen tonners, single or dual drive axle pantechs, with or without trailers. In most cases anything bigger was moved in shipping containers without branding so immediately distinguishing them as removalist trucks is not always easy.
“Trailer?” I asked.
“Yep, triple apparently.” Nick said telling me it was a triple axle box trailer. There was a brief pause from Nick’s end then he continued. “So do you want it?”
“Yeah we’ll go.” I said referring to myself and Matthew who I assumed still wanted to spend time with me. “No point leaving them wait for someone from Broome if they don’t have to. Want to come with?”
“Yeah,” Nick usually went to calls that had been reported through the police station if they were close enough to town. “How long do you need?”
“Five minutes for me, ten minutes to get city boy moving!” I replied.
“Ok I’ll meet you at the end of the driveway.” Nick was referring to the make shift driveway I used to cut the distance to the highway when I was headed west.
Previous Desert Rescue story here.