Murphy Strikes Again

The Wallaby Track: Lionel’s motorhome ends up on the back of a tilt truck. Again. Thanks a lot, Murphy.

The view from Anzac Hill, Alice Springs.

Having had two months resting at Walkamin, Qld, Murphy must have been planning how to best upset me when I set out for Alice Springs.

Having motored through the twisty, hilly stretch to Ravenshoe for what I believed was the last time this year, I settled down for the long stretch ahead. 

The sun was shining brightly in a cloudless sky as I took the right fork towards Mt Surprise but, suddenly, on came two warning lights and the engine temperature gauge went off the top! I’d broken the fan belt!

Fortunately I had mobile phone connection so I was able to ring for help. The nearest long tilt truck was in Atherton but the RACQ truck was away at Townsville for the day. Eventually, they found a truck from a towing firm and told me it was coming, although it was nearly 200km away.

After a long, hot wait on the side of the road, Yemmy was eventually on the truck and we headed back the way I’d come.

Yemmy finds itself on the back of a tilt truck again.

It was cold and dark when we reached the Atherton Big 4 caravan park and the office was closed when I’d tried to ring. Yemmy was unloaded onto a grassed area outside the park and I settled in for the night.

With no power steering it was a bit hard getting on to a site in the morning but it was a lovely park and the RACV paid for me to stay there until I could get the fan belt fixed. I had to wait until the Monday when the mechanics returned to work to find out the RACQ couldn’t/wouldn’t come out to the park to fix it.

They did suggest using a mobile mechanic so I asked the park manager if he knew anyone who could come out. He rang a local repair shop just up the road and Jason arrived quickly with a fan belt.

There are two sizes for Yemmy and, of course, the one Jason brought was the smaller one and it needed the larger one. He jumped in his truck and soon returned with the right one that he quickly fitted. The bill was just $150 including the belt and the service was fantastic!


Even though my stay in the caravan park was not by choice, I thoroughly enjoyed my three days there and the two managers, Shawn and Janine, plus office lady Lorelie, went out of their way to be helpful.

Pool at the Big 4 Atherton caravan park.

An added bonus was meeting my neighbouring camper, Bill from Bendigo, Vic, who had a ‘bionic’ ear – the first person with one I’d met since leaving the Royal Victorian Eye and Ear Hospital all those years ago when Professor Graeme Clarke was in the early stages of developing this great device that has restored hearing for so many people. 


Having once more left the twists and hills of Ravenshoe behind, I was soon past the place where I’d been stranded the week before and four days and 2265km later I arrived in Alice Springs to find that my site was next to my daughter, Jackie, and partner, Dennis, and even had an ensuite!

Fathers’ Day started with pancakes – a regular Sunday freebie for park guests, then we went shopping in one of the supermarkets in the Alice. Jackie and I then invested some money without reward playing Bingo before heading to iconic pub Bogangles.

A great day and the first one I’ve shared with Jackie for ages.


The first time I saw Alice Springs when as a flight engineer in the RAF’s Transport Command, we flew over the town on our way to Maralinga – the site where nuclear bombs were tested. 

Monument on the top of Anzac Hill, Alice Springs.

On our way back we carried samples from the test site and the scientists on board used Geiger counters each morning to make sure our payload was safe. I was very pleased when we set down on home soil!

I’ve been back to the Alice a few times since and this time the visit was even more enjoyable because I spent two weeks with my daughter and we were able to revisit some of the local highlights together, including Anzac Hill with its magnificent views of the town and surrounding ranges.

We also visited Alice Springs Desert Park. The highlight was the raptor display with birds flying in right on cue. A little willy wagtail was an endearing gatecrasher who kept us amused.

I hate snakes and there was a huge pretend specimen in a playground. Of course Jackie had to pose with it!


I have a coffee machine at home but it’s too big to take on the road with me so I just use instant coffee. A friend made me a coffee at Walkamin and I was intrigued to see his little Nespresso machine.

I picked one up for $107 and there was a bonus of 100 free capsules. It works okay, although I have to hold the button down to get enough coffee for my liking. The good thing is that it works using my inverter so I will never be without coffee as I travel.


I’ll be home before the end of September after spending a few days with my son and daughter-in-law in Adelaide. 

I’m hoping the weather warms up in the Wimmera soon as I’m getting very fond of the lovely weather here in the Alice with warm, cloudless days and cool nights.

See you down the track.