It started out so well. Our trip down was great – quick – smooth – no traffic snarls. We had a great day looking around the Capital. Lunch at Parliament House, visited the National Museum and the Mint. Checked in to the gas station just to make sure the water was OK – it was down a bit so we filled the radiator and for good measure put some product in which was supposed to stop leaks. At this point I should mention that the radiator had been ‘leaking a bit' in the previous few days but a bit more water added and it seemed OK.
All went well and about 6pm we pulled in to the gas station off the tollway to get petrol. Checked the water again – all OK. A quick cup of coffee and we set off about 6.30pm. By now it was dusk, sprinkling with rain, and the evening darkness was closing in quickly. We were looking forward to reaching home to have something to eat.
We’d traveled exactly 34kms from our last stop when the car started to make strange noises. The thermometer (or instrument which tells how hot the car is running) zoomed up to ‘hot’ and before a few more metres, the motor cut out. We were still about 100kms away from home.
Well there wasn’t much we could do – in pouring rain and darkness! I said a prayer asking God to keep us safe while we were in this situation we had no real control over. Thank goodness for mobile phones though. We called our roadside assistance – (thank goodness for membership too)! A serviceman would be sent out within the hour.
A short while later, the mobile phone rang. It was roadside assistance base. Would we walk to the nearest emergency phone on the tollway and report in our breakdown? At this time we had no idea where we were located – except for the 34kms from the last gas station and this call would give our actual location. The men grabbed umbrellas and jackets and one began the walk to the emergency phone and the other to see if a place locator could be seen.
Break-down reported to the operator – no place name located however, but we were informed we were about 8 kms from the nearest township. Now our situation had been reported, we could expect a tow truck within in the hour. By now it was pouring with rain and looking more and more like we might be there for a good while. Phoned our son who lived about 90 minutes drive away, who said he’d come down to get us. We had friends visiting from Canada with us and didn’t want them to be any more uncomfortable than necessary.
We began to sit it out – traffic zooming past us at 100kms or so an hour. Each time a truck passed, the car would be rocked from side to side. By now it was 8.30pm and the need to find a bathroom fairly soon was inevitable! Eventually two of us absolutely had to venture into the shrubs alongside the road – need I say more – raining and all, it was somewhat of a relief! A van had pulled up a short distance from us - also broken down - this poor young man had only purchased his vehicle a few days previously and this was the second time he had been in strife with the mechanical state of it. Now he was also waiting for a tow truck.
Eventually the tow truck arrived and hitched the car on the back. We all piled up into it’s generous cabin and within a few minutes we were arriving at the place where our car was to be left.
It was now 9.30pm in a tiny town it seemed we were going to be hungry for a while longer but decided to take a walk through the town while we waited for our son to arrive. When we spotted a little pizza shop still open, we realized how hungry we were. We were not disappointed! With full tummies we made our way back to the service station to find our son had already arrived. It was only a few minutes later that we were back on the road on our way home arriving about midnight.
An exciting day? – Yes. A late night? - Yes. But a memorable day – in more ways than one. Despite it all, it’s situations like that which we file away in our memories and remember them, not because of the good time we had together, but because of the unpleasant parts that happened. We arrived home and we were kept safe, despite the experience – and yes, we will make sure the car is in good running condition before we venture out on another day trip – especially if we have overseas guests with us!
The footnote is that the car is not going to be ready for a week and it’s going to have it’s head gasket and radiator repaired at a cost of $2,900.