Mudgee to Darwin Day 42 - 43 Lorella Springs to Borroloola, Calvert River and back again to Borrolo

Friday, Aug 23, 2013 at 15:03

Member - Lisa & Peter (NSW)

Mudgee to Darwin Day 42 - 43 Lorella Springs to Borroloola, Calvert River and back again to Borroloola

Well.... Here we are again at Borroloola. We headed back from Lorella Springs, over the rough roads, fuelled up at Borroloola and headed east on the Savannah Way. It's quite a pretty drive, with many creek and river crossings, many are dry but a few with water flowing, and no depth markers. The deepest came to the top of the tyres. Graders were working about 50km southeast of Borroloola, so the road up to that point was a dirt highway and quite smooth. After that things got much rougher, a lot of corrugations, and frequent sharp dips. About 160km out, we got a low pressure warning from the tyre pressure monitors, and stopped to change the rear right tyre on the hilux as it was leaking, though no obvious damage. About 20km later, on the descent to the crossing of the Calvert River we heard a sharp clunk under the car. We had a quick look but could see no obvious reason for it, so drove through the crossing and up the next rise. However as soon as we drove over some corrugations we could hear a lot of rattling under the car and pulled over at the first level spot. We had broken the main spring on the right. While we were scratching our heads and having a look, a lovely couple in a landcruiser towing an offroad van pulled up to help. Brian and Val were a wonderful help to us, Brian and Peter put their heads together, considered the situation, and decided on a course of action. Brian had a cordless drill, so the first idea was to drill through the broken spring and bolt it to the others, which would stop the broken end damaging the chassis, which it was right up against. The steel spring was much too hard, so they then used shackles to hold the broken spring to the others, using rated shackles from our recovery gear. This took place over about 90 minutes, and it seemed we would be ok to slowly continue on to Hells Gate roadhouse. Luckily, though, Peter had a good look under the car, and realised that the drive shaft had moved backwards, and the affected wheel had skewed backwards, so we realised we would have to get a flatbed truck to take us back to Borroloola. We could possibly have continued, by strapping the rear axle to a forward part of the chassis, but it seemed too risky, so it was decided that Brian and Val would continue to Borroloola, and arrange the road service. Although we had our Spot device, with a standard message to request roadside assistance from the nearest service agent, which would go to my Dad, we had no way of letting him know that we would need a flatbed truck.

So we settled down by the road to wait. We knew Brian and Val couldn't possibly make it to Borroloola before 7pm, we didn't know if the truck would head out to us that night, or in the morning, but we had plenty of food and water, so we made ourselves comfortable. We had about 5 cars stop while Brian and Val were there, and a few others afterwards, offering whatever assistance possible, but nobody had a sat phone, so we couldn't call it in. Late that evening, we saw lights on the other side of the river, and called on the UHF, and those guys let us use their sat phone to confirm that the truck would head to us in the morning. We were able to spend a comfy night in the camper after taking a shower under the stars in the middle of the Savannah Way, hopefully it didn't make the road too boggy!

The next morning after breakfast, we sorted out our gear as much as possible, to be ready for the truck when it came. We had plenty of time, the truck finally reached us about 10.30am, and it took till nearly 3pm to get back to town. Mark, the driver, kept us amused with his stories as we drove back, with the hilux on the flatbed and the camper behind. He took us first to the workshop where we worked out a plan with John the mechanic, then took us and the whole rig to the caravan park, backed the camper in and unloaded the car. After discussions with John, we found would need to wait a week to get replacement heavier duty springs from Darwin , so we decided to hire a car and pick up the parts ourselves. So I'm writing this between Katherine and Pine Creek, having done 723km in 7 hours including short stops, leaving at 6am.

We had a lovely meal last night with Brian and Val at the Borroloola Hotel, we all had the local barra and a few quiet drinks. We had already arranged the hire car, and Bernie kindly dropped it off to us at the caravan park.
Toyota Hilux SR5 2010 D4D
Echo Kavango
BlogID: 5271
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