Throughout these past many years, I’ve probably driven enough miles to make it all the way around the world. Most of those miles were on highways, however well-maintained. But a healthy amount were on backroads, as Pat and I enjoy exploring, and are willing to take risks. Australia has quite a lot of roads which they will never bring up to the standard where they are safe at all times. “Unsealed” is what they are called, and very often they pose serious hazards in bad weather or when fallen trees or rocks block the way.
Today, we chose to take several of those roads to circumnavigate the lower section of the park. It was a real test of our Nissan Almera, clearly not made for rugged area driving. The route was necessary in order to visit some caves where stone painting told the stories of local aboriginal origins. The distances were great, and we had several maps and the Garmin.
Pat and I have always agreed that we would check each other’s eagerness to risk a little danger in pursuit of our adventure. I have to admit, however, the stories of travelers becoming stuck or lost in the semi-wilderness did flash in my mind as I drove out of the valley this afternoon.
An hour earlier, on a narrow mountain road, we encountered one of those tractors you see using a large wedge blade to spread dirt across half the road when they construct highways. He was coming toward us, and had spread dirt across half the road ahead of us, and I had no idea what we would find in a few minutes.
Slowly, my side of the road became narrower, and the pile of dirt in the middle of the road grew higher. Then, on a downhill grade, I could see my lane width disappear. I chose (my decision alone) to drive across (and through too quickly) the center pile in an attempt to get into the other, wider lane. Unfortunately, the pile contained more than dirt, and my cross took longer than expected. Fortunately, the undercarriage of the car, and we survived the collision. Unknown at the time, the front left tire rim didn’t.
How we made it home in the next two hours will remain a mystery to us. For when we parked in our spot in front of our room, we found the tire half-deflated. Within a minute, it sat on the rim. A post mortem by the roadside emergency service from a neighboring town’s tire shop indicated that the rim had taken a solid hit, creating a leak only when the smashed rim was at a 6 o’clock position, and stationary. I was sure glad we didn’t stop up on the valley road.
Kookaburra Motor Lodge for their support.
Here is a link to the photos we took today.