Trouble in the Northern Territory Australia - Trip Report
New South Wales Subaru Club Hay River Track into the Simpson Desert and the QAA line into Birdsville with my Mitsubishi Triton (AKA L200).......but.......
My run from Sydney to Broken Hill with a couple of overnight stops was uneventful. It was nice to reach “BIG SKY COUNTRY” between Cobar and Broken Hill.
Met up with the group in Broken Hill and all had dinner together at the Astra Hotel where the food was good.
From Broken Hill we made our way south to the Flinders Ranges and then up the Oodnadatta Track with a stop at Leigh Creek for fuel.
Onto Farina Ruins where a new building has sprung up since I was last there.
A quick peek at Lake Eyre South; mainly salt!
We camped at Coward Springs where the springs were luke warm and, like most of this trip, the flies were bloody annoying and the most I’ve seen out here. Probably won’t come out here at this time of year again.
Just as well we had a nice camp fire at Coward Springs as this helped keep the plentiful mozzies away.
Our next stop was at Strangeways Springs which is a heritage conservation area on Anna Creek Station. The place was once a reasonable establishment with a telegraph station, a station manager’s house and a police station circa 1886.
We then took the track out to Lake Eyre, about 60Ks each way and such a terrible track that some agreed we would never attempt it again.
By the time we got back to William Creek I had a small split in the bottom of the main fuel tank which was leaking; rubbed it with soap and then stuck some aluminium tape over the top.
Our next camp was at an Old Ghan station and apart from the flies, a very pleasant stop-over.
Our “happy-hour” nibbles had to be strategically placed in the path of the fire smoke to defeat the flies! Smoked cheese is great!
On our way to Dalhousie Springs we visited the Algebuckina Bridge, constructed for the Old Ghan and at 580 metres was the longest bridge in South Australia until 2014.
A lunch stop at Pedirka Siding.
A little later my trip came to an abrupt ending with the Triton spewing engine oil everywhere 33Ks out from Dalhousie Springs.
Another club member towed me into the Springs and the by the time I got to Dalhousie Springs the fuel tank started to leak again as the split has grown a little, no surprise there, but the soap and tape sealed it up again.
The engine bay took in heaps of dust during the tow and so bad that at times I could not even see the tow vehicle in front of me!
The afternoon at Dalhousie Springs was spent arranging recovery using the public phone, standing in the heat of the sun and covered head to foot in flies – bloody awful. But thanks to RAA and NRMA a truck was arranged from Kulgera some 320 kilometres away.
The car and I were collected on a flatbed Thursday 18th April at 2:30 PM with arrival in Kulgera at 3:05 AM on Good Friday! Terrible roads and the tow truck barely got above 40 KPH most of the time. We stopped over at Mt Dare for some dinner where we heard that local identity “Cobby Bob” had been taken to hospital by the RFDS after a heart attack. The driver Tony had an absolute marathon with 20 hours on the road to come get me! It took us both a full day to recover from the pounding we took; the tracks in the Dalhousie / Mt Dare / Fink area are the worst I’ve seen.
Being the Easter long weekend I had to stay over in Kulgera until the Tuesday but I actually enjoyed my 4 day stay thanks mainly to Tony, his family, and the rest of the team who made me feel a part of the Kulgera Roadhouse family! I had a nice cabin, even had a lounge in it, and the Triton had a lovely time relaxing by the pool!
I kept myself busy during the days reading the workshop manual and trying to diagnose the car and eventually decided the issue was indeed behind the timing cover and not much I could do. Also spent time checking out my solar panels on top of the camper as they seem to have given up on me
It’s was a real eye-opener to see the number of damaged vehicles and campers coming into Kulgera as the dirt roads are in such a terrible state ATM. Some cars were missing their entire plastic front bumpers, broken tail-shafts and trailers with bent suspension.
On Tuesday 23rd April we had just got into Alice Springs when the tow truck blew and destroyed both LHS rear tyres! So there we were parked up on a traffic island at a major intersection for a long time while the repair took place! Again, Tony going above and beyond to get us under way while the Tyrepower guys were on the way.
Eventually we got to deliver the Triton to the Mitsubishi dealer but they couldn’t even look at the car until Friday 26th and I then thought I’ll be lucky to get out of Alice by Monday or Tuesday (Ha!).
While the tyre change was under way we heard that Cobby from Mt Dare was in Alice and ready to go home so Tony was going to pick him up on his return to Kulgera but didn’t actually know where Cobby was staying. I checked into the Alice Springs Tourist Park and bugger me but I met Cobby who was two cabins away from me – and what a character he is for sure. It seems Tony never found out where Cobby was residing before he headed home so Cobby had a Greyhound ticket to Kulgera and I dropped him off at the bus terminal the next morning.
Afternoon of Friday 26th the diagnosis turned out to be a bolt holding a balance shaft snapped and this will be covered by my 10 year power train warranty – Phew!
The issue now is parts delivery as they have to come from the East Coast and if by road could take 7-10 days so I hope they’re sent by air!
While in Alice I’ve visited the Transport Museum which houses the Old Ghan museum, Vehicles of all types and the Kenworth Hall of Fame (lots of dollars tied up in this one!). It was interesting to see inside a Ghan carriage for the first time. Also visited the Aviation Museum, the Old Telegraph Station (where I learnt how Alice Springs got it’s name), the Desert Park and a Solar Farm.
Upper Class Dining
Upper Class Lounge / Bar
The Transport Museum
I spotted this awesome double decker
Then the Kenworths; This one is magnificent!
What bloody spring Alice? (That cavity in the rock face was thought to be a spring as it was running when sighted; it wasn't)
Now Monday 29th April 2019 and I called into the dealer about 10:30 this morning and was greeted with “Ah just about to call you”– they hadn’t even ordered the parts yet! But what can you say when they have your car “hostage”. Anyway the parts were ordered while I watched and will come by air at my expense – about $80 (later reduced to $20) and should arrive Wednesday. The car can be put back together Thursday through Friday and ready at the latest Saturday morning. We’ll see!
Went up to ANZAC Hill in to take a pic of Alice Springs. On the far right is the dealer that has my car:
Here's some friendly caravan park inhabitants:
A visit to Emily Gap where the flies just about carried me away! This was typical of the areas I had visited but in Alice Springs itself there were not as many. Bushman insert repellent (heavy duty) only lasts 5 minutes out here!
Back to the dealer Wednesday 1st May and it was confirmed that the parts had arrived and resources allocated to put the car back together Thursday through Saturday. So with any luck I'll be back on the road by Sunday 5th May, some 18 days after breaking down!
Wednesday arvo visit to West MacDonnell Ranges and Simpson's Gap
A visit to the dealer Friday 3rd May 11 am where I was told the car would be ready this afternoon and they would call me when ready - no one called! :-(
Picked the car up late Saturday morning, filled it with fuel then drove back to the caravan park. Had a look in the engine bay and then underneath to check out the fuel tank weld repair; the weld was fine – but – diesel was leaking from elsewhere. Back to the dealer where the service department by this time had closed. One of the sales people helped out by contacting the service manager and he then arranged for 2 mechanics to come back to the workshop (remembering that it is a long weekend here). Turns out the tank is now leaking from the joint between the top and bottom halves and will need to be removed, sent back to the metal fab shop for another repair and then reinstalled. They said the tank was pressure tested before installing so I don’t know how this has happened. Given the public holiday on Monday I do not expect to leave here now until Thursday morning – bugger bugger bugger! At least they have given me a courtesy car this time.
The bank account can take a good bashing when the unexpected occurs! The recovery from Dalhousie Springs was $3,410 and, fortunately, covered by my NRMA Premium membership; the trip to Alice Springs was $1,700 which I had to pay. By the time I get home I will probably be about $6,000 out of pocket – excluding any repairs!
To be continued.........
Saturday 4th May I went and viewed the arrival of the "new" Ghan in Alice Springs. I didn't count the carriages but it was incredibly long.
reserved for more
and even more
@Kevin , what an adventure, Im calling it that because Im sure thats how you see it, well, pretty sure, the only thing I would hate is the flies. Adventures can Cost big bikkies but She'll be apples mate, She'll be apples..
@subiesubieDOOO just have to grin and bear it for sure! ;-)
God damit man we want pics !
Wow, what an adventure!
No pics on my iPad either, read it just after you posted this morning, but waiting for the pics! Epic write up though!
You must be blocking "something". Have a look here and let me know what you see:
No pics yet
Same here, No pics on the linked pages either.
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