Vehicle Recovery

Amongst my many and varied duties as host of Possum Valley, I often get unanticipated disasters to deal with.  Last night it was a phone call from the guests at Maple Cottage as the light was fading, to say they had no power.  There was power at the homestead and Blackbean, so must be a transmission fault.  They helpfully told me there was a crackling sound outside the games room.  That narrowed it down to connection in the transmission lines which must have corroded in the last two months of relentless rain.  So I perched on a ladder to do a bypass with a silly little bit of wire rather than disassemble, strip, abrade, and reassemble which would take much longer than the light available would last.  Fixed in 20 mins and I was rewarded with a beer.

But the more interesting disaster happened a week before.  On a quiet and peaceful afternoon with guests in residence, but with no changeovers, I had a guest from Blackbean come to the homestead and tell me there was a lady stuck on the hill out.  I had heard vehicles come and go, but took little notice as my guests have their own agendas.  I walked up the hill but no vehicle in sight.  Not until I got to the second corner did I discover it, not on the track at all, but off in the rainforest leaning precipitously, a car jammed between two trees.  It had evidently slid backwards and sideways off the bank of the track and leaning at more than 30 degrees.  It was hard up against a tree behind, which had stopped it’s further progression into the rainforest, but also had a tree square in front no more than 300 mm away. It went in sideways and the only way out was sideways.  Then the lady driver and the guests from Blackbean came up to gaze and ponder.

I clambered round the vehicle and stared at it from every angle.  Slowly.  I have learned this from watching many people in disaster situations, farmers and earth movers, medics and mothers.  Don’t go flapping around trying to “do something”.  Stare at it like your steely look will levitate it out.  Absorbing information about every detail of the situation.  Every stick or bank of soil that might be a problem.  Other people arrived but I hardly looked or noticed.  I had a plan.  The car had to wrenched first sideways with a very short tether, by a couple of meters, which was all I could do with my 4WD before I crossed the track and met the trees.  Then re-hitch with a long tether to tow up the hill.  I also had a plan B with a hand winch I could attach to the tow bar fixture of my 4WD.  But slow and painful.  As I explained to the crowd that I was going off to assemble resources, tools and my 4WD, I belatedly noticed that the new arrivals were my daughter Josie and my grandkids Huon and Evie.  You might think I was a bit slow to recognise them, but Josie understood where my mind was ….. I think.

I got short bits of chain and long bits of tow-strap along with the desperate winch option, to get back to the scene and manoeuver across the track to attach with a very short chain.  Josie volunteered to drive the lady’s car.  I was much relieved, because it would take the combined traction from both vehicles to extricate it.  The vehicle’s owner, I later discovered from Josie who had chatted with her, was an 80 year old Korean lady with little bush knowledge.  With Josie, I could rely upon coordinated action as we communicate well.  We have sailed together in hairy-scary sailboats that require microsecond co-ordination.  We had to coordinate the power-on by hand signals and it worked well.  It was wrenched back onto the track without crashing the trees.  The rest was easy to tow it up the hill.

The lady, who had just come to take a look pressed $100 into my hand.  I declined 3 times as I was always going to get her out as that is what we do in Oz, help when we had the gear to do it, But she insisted.  I realised she was amazed that she thought she was totally alone, imperiled and helpless, but people appeared from every direction with help and resources.   I like to think that is the Australian way.


  1. Sackerson says:

    Like. And like the tiger you have learned caution in the jungle because tigers don’t get taken to hospital.

Speak Your Mind