What is a road trip in our loveable Land Rover without a major breakdown? On 27th August, we plotted our route on Google Maps from Adelaide to Broken Hill expecting to meet our new employers in a car park outside Woolworths and follow them in convoy along the lengthy, deserted dirt roads to their home hidden in the vast wilderness, three hours from civilisation. We prayed the drive from Adelaide to Broken Hill would be as smooth as you can hope for in a 1981 Land Rover. But that had been wishful thinking. Only two hours after leaving Adelaide, we rumbled over a razor sharp kangaroo bone and punctured the tyre which then proceeded to deflate at an alarming speed. Matty did well to recover the accident that had caused Jenny to steer out of control like a crazed bull. Efficient as ever, he was soon below the car jacking it up and stabilising any precarious movement with large rocks.
By the time he had replaced the tyre, the sun had dimmed and the stars were blinking. We had no signal to reach the family to explain the situation so we continued to Broken Hill, anxious of the dangers that lay ahead on the Australian roads at nightfall.
Another long hour dwindled. Broken Hill, the outback sanctuary was a mere few kilometres away. Yet right on cue, Jenny began to falter again. This time it was her dimming headlights. Flashing on and off like a beacon of impending doom, she dangled our fate right before our eyes, teasing us with the possibility of an uncontrollable breakdown at the side of an outback road. She held the power to delay us; she now had the keys to control us. The two of us prayed this was not our final resting spot.
She lagged for a few extra yards before coming to a deathly stop. And naturally within moments, the bonnet was open. The diagnosis this time? The car battery had just flatlined. Matt believed it was the result of her loose alternator which had caused the battery to drain rapidly the instant we switched on the headlights. By some miracle however, another car soon approached and the driver was quickly disentangling a pair of jump leads to shock the cursed battery into life… (picture those crocodile clippers we all used in school during those science experiments on electric circuits). Jenny thankfully arose from her unexpected dormancy and we rattled ahead.
A few kilometres ahead however, her ‘headlight hiccups’ soon returned, flickering on and off. We accepted defeat as she rolled to a stop. No other driver past us that night. We were alone in the outback with a dead car and no means of help.