Sunday, July 31, 2011

Steve and Terry at Bramwell

Its a very long road

Our home in Coen

Still heading south…

Taking all the bypass roads to travel south again made the km’s fly past. We decided that we were fanging for another one of Kaleena’s meals at Bramwell Tourist Park. This time we drove in, and the mangoes by now had started to develop and were starting to hang heavy on the trees. Cam got a bit excited about this (as we will get back home to Broome in time for the Mango Festival) and jumped up to grab a mango off the branches. Inncocent action enough until a swarm of disturbed paper wasps descended on the kids with Nat and Dan taking the brunt of some very angry insects. A bit of topical lotion and all the bites settled down and we were ready for dinner. Kaleena put chicken parmy on the menu just for us and all was good in the world. This was only a one nighter so we were back on the road early the next morning.

About 40 km’s south of Coen Steve first noticed the steering of the car became heavy, then the handbrake light came on which made him pay more attention to the instrument panel and noticed that the charge light was on. He soon stopped and didn’t hear the familiar bearing sound (which he had been WD40’ing forever) and we quickly radioed Terry to turn around as we were again in trouble.

The idler pully on the auto tensioner arm seized shearing off the arm of the auto tensioner. One look at Steve and I knew that out of all the trouble we had encountered so far, this one could be the deal breaker. By now, Terry had doubled back and the men were in the grease again. Looking at what they had to work with, Terry suggested using his spare Patrol belt. So, after removing 2 pulleys and repositioning another, they had the Patrol belt stretched on and the only decision left was whether to keep on to Musgrave or turn back to Coen. About this time, an RACQ pick up truck stopped to check on us. We told him what had happened and he suggested that there were better services at Coen. We really wanted to continue the holiday with Terry and Deb and so we decided to push on to Musgrave. After about 2 km’s and a bit of in-car discussion, Steve and I agreed we were better to turn around and get back to Coen with all its services. We pulled over to let Terry and Deb know.

At this stage we were well aware of all the hold ups due to our mechanical issues and offered to Terry for him to keep on traveling so they could still do their snorkeling. They agreed, and so Steve and I turned around and had a very pensive trip back to Coen. Although it was sad to say good-bye, after two hours of sitting alone on the roadside watching the men work on the car, not knowing what could happen, I was just relieved and grateful that at this stage, we were not on the back of a tow truck.

Pulling into Coen with the belt squeeling like a cut pig we certainly made an entrance. We pulled out side the local mechanic workshop and before long we had four blokes ringing their “brothers in law, cousins, brothers etc” finding a way to get a new tensioner into Coen. At this stage we fully realized that we had made the right decision to turn around and this town really turned it on to do everything they possibly could for us – total strangers.

While this was happening, I was on the phone to NRMA. Our roadside assistance was up for renewal about 8 weeks before we left Broome, and I was talked into upgrading our cover to Platinum Level. How lucky was that?!?! Before long, we had accommodation sorted and paid for and Lance the mechanic doing everything he could to get us a part. Only thing left for us to do was go to the pub for a drink.

Coen – what a surprise. As everything now was out of our hands, it didn’t take long before we felt like we were back on the road full time again. There was no stress, no wondering where to go next – just taking one day at a time and enjoying the moment. The hospitality we received here was excellent, and we had a great time chatting to the locals and learning a bit more about the town. There were a lot of travelers here with their own stories of breakdowns requiring towing back to Cairns and we counted our blessings that our story was not that extreme. I reckon in 2 – 5 years time, Coen will be a sought after spot to camp and we will definitely have it on our return list.

The part arrived by truck 2 days later on a Thursday afternoon about 3:00pm. By 5:00pm Steve and I with the help of Lance’s car manual to work out how the serpentine belt needs to be wound on, we had the car ready to go. Sadly we said goodbye to Coen, and after a quick text to let Terry know that we were off to the Lions Den to check out the CREB we were on our way…

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