My partner and I are travelling around Australia. We had bought a car in Tasmania and everything was good.
We had just had a beautiful drive along the Great Ocean Road and were heading towards Halls Gap in the Grampians when 30km before the town, the car suddenly stopped. We didn’t know much about cars and couldn’t work out what was wrong. Yep, there was petrol, there was water and there was oil in the car and that’s as much as we knew. We were starting to panic, we were in the middle of nowhere, with no phone signal and it would be dark in a couple of hours.
To the rescue?
Then suddenly we heard a car coming towards us. It started to slow down. We were relieved that someone had stopped to help us and even more relieved that they knew more about cars than us.
They had a look at the engine but couldn’t see anything obviously wrong. They said our best solution was for them to tow us to the nearest town. We were very grateful that we wouldn’t have to spend a night in the car. We found a campsite and set up our tent and thanked the two men who had helped us.
The next morning we woke up and realised it was a lot smaller town than we had originally thought and it didn’t actually have a garage. We managed to get a contact number from the visitor centre of a mobile mechanic in the next town. We gave the mechanic a ring and he came to collect the car and took it to his garage. We were starting to feel more relaxed now.
But the worst was not over. The next day he phoned and said the car couldn’t be fixed. The timing belt had broken and it had damaged the engine. The mechanic explained to us that a timing belt is supposed to be changed every 100,000km but the previous owner hadn’t done this. We were shocked. We never thought this would happen.
We didn’t know what to do next. We were in the middle of nowhere and with no car. We couldn’t even take a bus as we had a car full of luggage.
We agreed there was no other option and we had to buy a new car, even though this was not in our budget. We asked everyone around if they knew where we could buy a car but that was the problem in a small town, there were no cars to buy.
We then met a couple from Queensland who invited us over to sit by their campfire and we explained our predicament to them. They were so kind and helpful and searched online for cars for sale and offered us a lift to where we needed to go but we couldn’t find any cars to buy or hire cars within our budget.
The couple told us they were going to Adelaide next and we were welcome to come with them. We were so grateful and so we started packing our entire luggage into their car and drove with them all the way. During this roadtrip we built a great relationship with the couple and were very glad that we had met them.
Round two: Ding ding!
They dropped us off at a campsite in Adelaide and we said our goodbyes. We were feeling much more optimistic now and were sure that we would find a car in Adelaide.
We started asking around and the people working at the campsite did everything to help us and bought us newspapers to look at car adverts.
After viewing some terrible cars, we finally found one which was a great deal. Everything was good again but we would never have been able to do it without all those great Australian people who helped us on our way.
Our advice to other travellers is to have a roadworthy test on a car before you buy it. Oh… And ask if the timing belt has been changed!