Uncle Milton and I got away at around 10.30am and headed for Terowie.
A cold south wind was blowing quite strongly and raised dust devils hundreds of metres in to the sky from the barren plains beyond the Terowie perimeter. We drove by lonely stations along a dusty road until we reached the New South Wales border. Just across the border lies Loch Lily Station. Had a chat with the station owner about the drought, the rain and the Boer Goats he was breeding. He gave us a mud map on how to drive south across his property. I took notice but still got lost. Then we came to an electric fence and although an arrow pointed left I decided to veer to the right. We followed a fence of new wire netting which had been electrified for a long way. Eventually we came to a corner and turned east. Then the wire netting fence changed to cyclone type electric fencing. Eventually we came to a gate which was electrically operated. It was 5pm and we decided to camp right there next to the road.
We made camp and cooked a meal. Darkness fell and Milton started to feel ill. He went to bed in the trailer. Soon after vehicle lights appeared on the other side of the fence and the gate opened and the vehicle came to our camp. It was a young fella working for Scotia Sanctuary, a wildlife refuge which lay inside the fenced off area. He said that we were on Scotia property and that they normally charged $10 for camping. I said nothing but changed the subject. The fella seemed confused as to his real whereabouts and I told him that my GPS had positioned us right by the gate and that we had become lost just getting here. He left after giving us directions of how to get out of the place the next day.
I had a good sleep but it was a cold night and had to rug up to keep warm. Milton was sluggish in the morning and he was not feeling well after the previous night. We packed up and drove through the Scotia Sanctuary gate as instructed, turned right as suggested, and make for the exit gate. It was not far but the solar panel gate refused to open. So we back tracked to the Scotia Homestead which we had not seen as yet. It was very impressive. New buildings, gas, water, solar powered. We saw last night’s visitor again and told him the news and that we were going back out of the gate we came through. We did just that and turn down the fence line to try and get around the perimeter of the property only to find another fence line stopping us. So we backtracked to the gate and found it standing open. Tried to close it by pushing the buttons but it would not work. I gave up and drove on. We followed tracks which took us past Tarrara Outstation. The Outstation was uninhabited. Then on through and past Tarawi Reserve, Old Shire Road, Belverdere Station and eventually we crossed the Silver City Highway and had smoko under the shade of a tree. From there we pushed on through the bulldust along Old Roo Roo Road past Nearie Lake to Polia Road. We had lunch by the side of the road and then continued on. Not long after lunch we had a puncture on the left rear wheel. I took a spare off the trailer on and then I stripped the threads of a nut. I had a spare wheel nut with me and fitted that . Milton fell asleep again along this dusty track and I find a beaut spot on the Darling River for a camp.
The fuel needle of the G60 was showing empty and I set about refuelling from the jerry cans in the trailer. I notice little white flakes in the petrol funnel and they disintegrate and become like soap when I touch them. I think no more about it and refuel. Milton has wandered off and I see him sitting in the sun.
The next minute Milton is beside me in a chair with the blanket over him and shivering like mad. I pack up hurriedly and get him in to the truck and we push off for Broken Hill. Not long after he calls for a stop and is sick. I pushed on as fast as I could with the trailer in tow. Heard clunking noises but did not stop to investigate. At a later inspection it turned out to be the spare wheel carrier which was loose and just swinging in the breeze. Milton was asleep.
We finally got to the Silver City Highway and bitumen road on dusk and from there it was another 84 Km to Broken Hill. Then the truck started to lurch and lose power. Power surges came and went. I would take my foot off the accelerator and coast for a few hundred metres and then accelerate again for one or two kilometres and then the process started all over again. Milton is out of it. I stop and change the front fuel filter. A bloke in a Toyota Ute stopped to enquire if we were all right but I tell him I’m just changing the filter and thanks for stopping.
We struggle on. I stop for a few minutes and try Channel 2020 on the HF Radio. Then I try Port Augusta but to no avail. (I discovered later that the aerial was faulty). I got back into the truck and we moved again for five kilometres before the whole process repeated itself again. We finally arrived at Broken Hill around 8pm and found the Hospital after some wrong advice and a search. I drop Milton off at Emergency. An ambulance arrives and the driver is very adamant I move off, which I do, but not before telling him to look after my mate. They are very casual about it at Emergency until they take Milton’s blood pressure and then he is rushed to a bed and put on a drip. They do an ECG and that is OK but he is very weak. I get his clothes and toiletries and then make for the Council Caravan Park. I had a long hot shower and then slept like a possum. It was another cold night.
The next morning I am back at the hospital at 9am. Milton is in the surgical ward and looking weak. Looks like he is in for some tests and will be there for a while. I decide to try and get back to Peterborough and leave at 10.30 after making some phone calls to Adelaide.
I get about 20km out of Broken Hill and the truck is still lurching. I pull up on the side of the road and take the air cleaner off. I remove the carburetor bowl and float and promptly lose a very small circlip in to the dirt below. I take the main jet out and blow through it but it is open. Then I drop that in the dirt trying to screw it back in. I find the jet after crawling around under the truck and screw it back in to place. A young bloke from Roxby Downs stops and offers assistance and he helps me make a wire circlip for the float. He insists I ring home on his mobile phone and will not take a dollar or two for the call. A very nice young man, he was. I thank him very much. I put some silicon on the float chamber gasket and wait for it to dry before fitting it all back together. I start the truck forgetting that the oil type air cleaner is resting on top of the engine. It falls over and spills a litre of oil everywhere. I clean up some of the mess and then put the whole shebang together again and drive off. Now the truck is running more than rough. About one kilometre down the road I look for my wallet and cannot find it. I turn round and drive back to where I was working on the truck. I remember I had the wallet out to give the young bloke a business card.
I get back to the spot and find my wallet on the passenger seat under a book. Sigh of relief! Check on the engine again and find that I had fitted the air cleaner back to front. Not thinking straight! So I remedy that. Truck is still struggling but I get to Cockburn and I have a pie and a drink and drive on. I struggle on to Olary and beyond and then on a low hill the engine starts to die. There is a truck parking bay with a car carrier parked nearby and I limp in and park down on the other side of it. I crawl under the truck with my tools and this time I replace the electric fuel pump as I had a spare one in my box of replacement parts. The old pump oozes white goo out of the filter. Once I have the pump working I am on the road and the truck is running sweetly. I ring home from Yunta via 1800Reverse and leave a message as there is no one home. About 25km out of Yunta I meet Judith and Jeddah bringing me some nice hot coffee and we have confab at the Three Sisters parking bay. Jude drives home the way she came and I take a back road from Nackara as I have heaps of vegies on board and do not want them confiscated at the fruit fly gate. I had bought them in Peterborough in the first place but try explaining that to the gate inspector. There were lots of kangaroos about in the late afternoon light. Once I got back on the bitumen again, the truck coughed twice but then continued running smoothly again. I arrived home at 6pm after an eight and a half hour trek for a distance of 285km.
On Monday I decant the jerry cans and find that the Lion Brand jerry’s have some white flaky stuff in them which had caused the problem. I had bought eight new jerry’s to set up for a remote outback trip in the future and were trying them out on this trip. Oh well, back to cleaning up and then repacking for my trip to Birdsville during the week.
On the Tuesday I took the jerries down to the retail outlet where I had bought them and started negotiations to get a refund or replacements and to order a new spare fuel pump and to get the tyre repaired.
Never a dull moment!