The Crash (a cautionary tail)


After 2 and a half months on the road in Australia we (Ash and I) had become fairly antagonistic toward one and other and would frequently squabble over simple things such as who was to push start the van that morning or who needed a shower. We had limped around 1800 miles in the 2 months since leaving Caines in our clapped out 1973 camper and we were on the last leg heading for Melbourne. We decided to drive at least part way through the night, a decision I now regret heartily! After a time we made it to the outskirts of Yas, a no stop town on the A31, a road famed for its lorry drivers and their propensity to inadvertently kill the odd backpacker or two in slow moving campervans. Around 11 oíclock the carburettor on the van began to let its problems be known and much to our irritation it took us down to around 45km per hour. This was not a new issue and we decided to forge on.

Road trains (36 wheel 60 tonne trucks) would speed up to our dwarfed van and swing out around us leaving what felt like a hairís breadth and causing the van to tremble . After a while we relaxed with the situation, lights filling the rear view mirror and swinging away at the last moment. Until one set of lights did not swing away but came closer and closer until, with a loud crunch of metal Hannah (our van) was powered up to 120kmph glued to the kangaroo bars of a sleeping driverís truck. In seconds Ash and I were heading towards a tree on the verge, Ash rolling backwards down the van as the power of the impact had snapped his seat in half. I held on and fumbled for the column shift gear leaver crunching the engine into 1st and yanking on the hand break. We narrowly missed the tree and came to a stop in time to see the tail lights of the lorry head over a crest. Incredulous and dumbstruck we clambered out of the van, dusting ourselves off we began working out whose cuts and back pains were worse. An air of pragmatism descended and we decided to hitch the remaining 100 or so miles to Melbourne. Over 2 hours 3 opportunities presented themselves; a policeman who was so unhappy that we may abandon our van, that he left us with nothing but the number for the RAC, a truck that sat on the hard shoulder around 500 metres away revving its engine and honking its horn (this option had something of Wolf Creek about it) and the option that we took; A White Ford van with 2 drunk and friendly Chilean surfers in. They were only too happy to help us load our belongings into the van and even waited while I pried the badge off of Hannah and stuffed it into my rucksack. An hour and a half and a JD and Coke or 2 later we were dropped off in Melbourne, the characters would not even accept my spare change in penance for their help. We were tired but at our journeys end and could not have been happier with our achievement!

T Goodson

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