Broken down ?

Submitted: Saturday, Jun 12, 2010 at 18:39
ThreadID: 79276 Views:3989 Replies:6 FollowUps:6
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Hi All,

Another tourism season is upon us and once again I'd like to give anyone who may be interested a good tip.
Most of you will know what I'm about to go over but many clearly don't as we have this happen repeatedly to us. Three times so far this season in fact.

You break down, you have no sat phone. Along comes another vehicle so you send a message to the nearest place that may be able to help ie Drysdale.

The verbal message we get is for example ' The wheel fell off ' You then ask the person delivering the message where the breakdown is. 'Oh they are up near Doongan' That is about 40 km from us, by the way.

So here we are ready and able to send the mechanic up to help BUT we don't know the depth of the problem, we don't know the make, year & model of the vehicle, in fact we don't know anything very useful at all !!!!!!
We don't even have a written note asking to send help so it's a big gamble if we will even get paid or not.
We have in fact in the past driven 200 km to rescue a vehicle to get there and be told they no longer need our help and have no intention of paying for the travel time.

It is imperative that you send a written note saying.
Please send help. We will pay all costs.
(A credit card number is even better and many places will no longer move to help without one)
Exactly where you are.
Exactly what has happened to your vehicle, describe the problem as fully as possible.
FULL details of the vehicle, make, year , month, model .......... anything that may help. Exactly what size tryes etc if that is the problem, is it 5 or 6 stud .
If anyone is hurt or if you need anything ie water.

Telling us the wheel fell of is almost useless ie have you lost one nut or all of them, did it strip the stud threads when it came adrift , or damage the rim etc etc.
Did you get the tyre back and is it re usable, or do you have spares?

Once we know some detail we might have some idea what to take along to be able to help.

Because we feel sorry for people in trouble one of our blokes has just driven off on a verbal request to do a save job, he has no useful info at all regarding the job, doesn't even know what the vehicle is, therefore he has no idea what he needed to take along with him.

Each year we get burned trusting minute verbal messages. Sometimes by the time we get there another helpful traveler has come along and fixed the problem and the vehicle we went to help isn't even there anymore. The mechanic then drives an extra 20 km up the road in case the distance we were given was incorrect.

Even if you know all this please tell all your less experienced mates heading for the bush. Doing it the right way will save us all a lot of time and money, including the customer if we take all we need the first time.
We have gone to do a trailer repair job to find the tow bar had in fact totally come adrift from the trailer , totally in 2 bits, of course we should have in fact taken the welder. This didn't rate a mention when we were asked to go.
Takes a lot of time to load the welder and all that gear so we only cart it along if needed.

We realise not everyone can tell us the exact problem and we do cater for that but it really does need to be more than just the ' wheel fell off '
Thanks for your help in getting the message out !

We want to help, we just need the customers help to be able to do so !
Do I sound frustrated. Sorry but I am.
cheers, Anne

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Reply By: OREJAP - Saturday, Jun 12, 2010 at 18:54

Saturday, Jun 12, 2010 at 18:54
Very well put Anne. Maybe SOMEONE could compile a "Request for assistance Pad" that a broken down motorist could just "tick & flick" or put crosses in boxes with room on the bottom for sensible remarks. Maybe someone on Explore oz could "construct" such a "Pad" & sell it for a few bucks so us travellers. We could put it in the vehicle with our recovery gear or other items that we might go to when & if we breakdown. I know we could all write down something on a bit of paper but a "Breakdown Note or Incident sheet" could be just a mind joggler when we become a bit "cloudy" in our thoughts when a problem arises. I know at times I have misse the obvious point like forgetting to write down my mobile phone number....I have a reminder note or a "What to Take list" on my computer which I print out and refer to when I am packing the vehicle & camper....I have tested myself & tried to pack everything from memory but as soon as I consult my list....Yep, forgot that. Anyway just an idea & although I have not been near your station I certainly will be doing so in the future. Thanks for the help you have extended to travellers over the years. Best wishes.
AnswerID: 420553

Follow Up By: Drysdale River Station - Saturday, Jun 12, 2010 at 19:07

Saturday, Jun 12, 2010 at 19:07
That is actually not a half bad idea at all ! Keep it sml to fit in glove box and have a spot at bottom for a signature to approve sending help.
If we had mobile reception out here it would make these things 100 % easier as the biggest problem lies in the fact we can't speak to the people unless they have a sat phone. To top it off even if they do have one half of them hardly work anyway, seems to be a dearth of satellites for some services in this area.
Had some folks today trying to book in for dinner ....... I think.
After a few tries where I got the odd word between the static they gave up.
cheers, Anne
FollowupID: 690749

Follow Up By: Trevor R (QLD) - Saturday, Jun 12, 2010 at 20:07

Saturday, Jun 12, 2010 at 20:07
Great constructive reply OREJAP.

Cheers Trevor.
FollowupID: 690758

Follow Up By: Member - Toyocrusa (NSW) - Saturday, Jun 12, 2010 at 21:35

Saturday, Jun 12, 2010 at 21:35
I also agree OREJAP. Very well thought out. Hope a few suggestions can turn it into a useable product. Bob.

FollowupID: 690761

Reply By: Drew - Karratha - Saturday, Jun 12, 2010 at 21:38

Saturday, Jun 12, 2010 at 21:38
Same should go for (just for example) solo sailors, bushwalkers, boaties, etc... c/card number attached to EPIRB signal....
AnswerID: 420574

Reply By: Member - Barnesy SA - Saturday, Jun 12, 2010 at 23:38

Saturday, Jun 12, 2010 at 23:38
A little off the topic of your post, do you still advise against people driving on the Mitchell Falls track towing a trailer or van? It is a regular question on this forum.

When we were there a couple of years ago there had apparently been a group of 4-5 large bushtracker vans along that road and it wouldn't have been much fun coming the other way with one of those big vans. Not to mention damage to the track. They had been advisede against towing on the track but they did it anyway.

What advice are you giving people these days?

AnswerID: 420585

Follow Up By: Drysdale River Station - Sunday, Jun 13, 2010 at 08:16

Sunday, Jun 13, 2010 at 08:16
Hi Barnsey,

I never normally make a flat recommendation like that, there are simply to many variables .

Hundreds of people now take trailers, camper vans and even caravans up there.
While most get in and out ok, many also suffer damage ranging from minor to real bad.

The thing is all these dirt roads up here are never the same, they change from month to month. That is why there are so many varied opinions on if the North Kimberley roads are better than expected or a horror story. People do it once and think that that is what for example the Gibb River Road is always like.
Well it's not and neither is the Mitchell Plateau track.
The three roads I am talking about GR road, Kalumburu & MP track are cared for by different funding and different bodies.
This means that there is no hope of them all being graded at the same times or even the same number of times per year. Add this to the different base quality of each road in different areas of land types etc and even if it was all just worked on it will still be different in places.
Don't forget we are talking about over 1000 km of roads for the three roads.

Towing anything to Mitchell Falls depends on,
state of the road at the time ( no way anyone can tell you in advance)
Strength / build of what you are towing.
How much weight you have in it.
How hard your tryes are.
The speed you do.
How you drive ie crawl over a bad bit.

We have towed many things , many times in and out of plateau without damage.
On the other hand we every year repair damage done by the same track.

Just because a trailer has 4X4 off road stickers all over it and some salesman told you it would go anywhere doesn't mean it is well built or strong.
If the corrugations are bad and you go fast with hard tryes you will very likely do damage.
If the road has been graded and you take it easy you should have no trouble at all towing in to there.
Having said all that there are still sharp creeks to cross and at present water still on the road so again it comes back to each persons set up.
If for example you have a low hung rig and you don't angle over one creek crossing you will drag on the creek bed.
There is simply no way anyone can advise you on the correct decision.
The track is now done by 4WD tour buses, fuel trucks and many vehicles towing many things.
If you meet any vehicle especially a large one or one towing on one of those bends and either of you is going to fast or on the wrong side of the road you could well have a problem. The track is narrow in places, tree lined and often has a decent height windrow, so there is little choice of taking to the scrub to avoid each other. This is clearly seen from your photo.
Again having said that the track is now much wider than it used to be, many of the sharpest bends have been improved. It is also now graded at least once , sometimes twice per season.
In years gone by it could well not be graded at all during the dry season. The other thing to remember is that the grader can only do so much, in many places there is almost no gravel to grade it's just rock with a thin layer of gravel spread over by the grader. It takes no time at all for the traffic to return it to bare surface.

The corrugations do come back fast as well in peak season when the use is heavy.

What I normally say to folks is consider not making the final decision till you get up here. Hope to take it in but either have swag so you can overnight without the van ( leave it here for free) or as a last resort do a day trip from the King Edward camp ground.
This second option does make for a pretty rushed trip though, especially if the road is bad.
Thing is once you are in the area you will daily get to talk to other people that have just done the road and you will get a real idea of just what it is like at the time of your trip.
Sorry can't help more than that, we get the question constantly and there simply is no constant answer.
Might put this up as a new post while I'm at it, you clearly have done MP track already.
I hate telling people if they should or shouldn't do this or other stuff regarding the roads as Murphy's law says my recommendation will prove to be wrong !
cheers, Anne

FollowupID: 690777

Reply By: carlsp - Sunday, Jun 13, 2010 at 07:53

Sunday, Jun 13, 2010 at 07:53

It is the Darwin Effect. Living you life by the dumbest person on the planet. Just leave them there, there deserve it.

I agree with the checklist however. Perhaps we could also have a "BP request for world help Checklist".

Then they could say more than "help broken pipe"
AnswerID: 420596

Reply By: Austravel - Sunday, Jun 13, 2010 at 10:05

Sunday, Jun 13, 2010 at 10:05
Hi Anne,

Well done, should be simple for people to understand, problem being is that it may not get to the individuals that need it. Sadly so many people have little awareness, that includes travellers and people in all professions.

Are you allowing people to camp at the Gibb River again? It was one of the best stops we had in our trip in 2006. River was flowing well and by 10am we had the place to ourselves.

AnswerID: 420606

Follow Up By: Drysdale River Station - Sunday, Jun 13, 2010 at 13:36

Sunday, Jun 13, 2010 at 13:36
Hi Austravel,

Gibb River is not on our place so it isn't up to us to allow or not allow camping.

We were asked to tell travelers it was not an overnight area.
I fully understand the reasons the rule was made.

The reason so many places have ceased the practice is the hell of a mess that gets left behind.
Toilet stuff not buried, rubbish left behind, camp fires left burning and as each person wants a tad of privacy then each forces a bit further and further along the river banks. All this on land someone else is paying to lease.
All the vehicles turning around close to the banks disturbs the soil and all the tents, and vehicles kill the grass, then along comes the first flood and washes the disturbed banks away.

Was ok in the old days when the use was light, we all used to allow free camping most anywhere. Now days as 50 to 80 odd people were camping on the Gibb on one night alone in peak season ( with no toilet at all) you can quickly comprehend the mess that was being created.

Frankly it stunk and most folks wouldn't have wanted to camp there anymore anyway while it was like that.
So sorry but as far as I know it's still day use only. I think eventually it may well become a proper cared for camping area.
cheers, Anne

FollowupID: 690796

Follow Up By: Austravel - Sunday, Jun 13, 2010 at 15:16

Sunday, Jun 13, 2010 at 15:16
Hi Anne

Thanks for the reply, I was wrong in who owned and closed it down. I know what you mean about the stress of over use in areas. I was there in 2006 and actually found it pretty clean even though there was a lot of concentrated use from mid afternoon to early morning. I can imagine it's more like the Cape now were rubbish is becoming more of an issue. How hard is it to take out your own rubbish and bury your own waste. Obviously very difficult for many. Some think the problem is from a small percentage. I doubt that and think the small percentage are those that actually do the right thing as a whole. There is no way the amount of rubbish and toilet paper you see around is from a small minority. Sadly it's just the way of the future. Just as an example- the other day at Bunnings I noticed the amount of rubbish in the car park. Drink containers, receipts, used paper towel from the sausage sizzle. People are becoming worse and I really don't understand the reasons why. No wonder places get closed and there's more to come.

Would be good if it gets re-opened with toilets and bins. However like most places with amenities I bet they never get cleaned and bins emptied once a month. If a rest stop is budgeted for the state should budget for on going maintenance. You notice that's not the case and some initially nice rest stops in CQ are now disgusting.

FollowupID: 690800

Reply By: Member - sdr00y (Beecroft,NSW) - Sunday, Jun 13, 2010 at 14:40

Sunday, Jun 13, 2010 at 14:40
Good advice Anne. Hopefully we wont need to use it for ourselves! See you early July.


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