HELLO + WELCOME to the regular Wrap Up of what’s happening as we drive from Sydney to London, via Africa.
This Wrap Up brings us from Western Australia to our last planned stop in Australia. We have since driven back to the East Coast to get our vehicle ready for shipping.
However, since so much has been happening, we will save our East Coast arrival for the next Wrap Up.
All good? Cool. Let’s get to it.
DRIVING AROUND AUSTRALIA
^ Driving South from Perth we came across the longest jetty on mainland Australia in Busselton that reaches out nearly 2km from shore
^ A moment of reflection
^ Yallingup, Western Australia
^ Sampling the wines at Vasse Felix the oldest vineyard in Margaret River
^ South Western Australia is packed with beautiful flowers
^ After a frustrating week we sunk into Margaret River. Vino. Cheese. Chocolate. Absolute indulgence set in amongst a lovely town that served us up gourmet everything.
^ We had planned a day of zooming long on tar but got distracted by the beauty of Waychinicup
^ Fields and fields of bright yellow Canola
The last two weeks has had significant highs and lows. It all starts off from where we got to in the last Wrap Up where we took our vehicle in for a simple service and 20 minutes later the Troopy broke down for the first time in it’s perfectly cared for history. What ensued was a week of watsed time, money and stress as a result of the service guys breaking something in our car and not telling us about it.
After all The Ridiculousness, we lifted ourselves back up by enjoying the Margaret River region. An area where some of the World’s best wine is created. We then zoomed towards Western Australia’s southern coastline eager to reach our last planned spots in Australia.
Along the way we fell in love with two towns that we can both see the potential to call ‘home’ in the future; both Margaret River and Esperance.
‘Where to begin?’ is the phrase flashing in my mind as I type this. Right now we feel great, however if we rewind a week, we were feeling pretty angry and stressed.
The Short Version: Took car in for service. Broke down immediately. Helped. But actually lied to. Honesty prevailed. Thankfully. Now getting fixed.
The Long Version:
Basically, since the service centre ‘serviced’ our vehicle it has broken down four times. One of those times it happened on a blind S bend. On this occasion I had to hop out of the vehicle to ensure a speedy car didn’t come around the corner and smash into us and G had to roll the Troopy down 2 hills to get us into a safer position.
The service centre mechanics came straight out to attempt to rectify what they had done to the vehicle. If they were mutts then they wouldn’t have come out, so we are grateful they saved us the towing bill and tended to the vehicle. Also, every time we dealt with them they were keen to express ‘we will do everything we can’, ‘we want this fixed’. Great. So they should.
However, each time they ‘got us back on the road’ soon enough we would break down again and as a result lost all faith in their ability.
After the third attempt to fix the vehicle it seemed to be working OK. However, it was quite a sight to see them scurry off into their car. Not exactly confidence inducing.
After a sleepless night, and simply knowing in our bones they hadn’t fixed the problem they created, we took the Troopy to a respected mechanic that came recommended 50kms away. It was a tense drive and were absolutely relieved to find two mechanical angels on our arrival (surely they should have been wearing halos?).
The efficient workshop owner (a bloke in his 30s) and an old boy mechanic (a walking mechanical encyclopaedia in his 70s) hoisted our rig up and took a look. They couldn’t believe what had been done to it. ‘That is dodgy’, ‘Really, really bad’, they said. Loose spring hose clamps were found. This means air could inevitably get into the fuel lines and cause it to stall. i.e. our ‘breakdowns’. They then went to replace the hose clamps on the fuel changeover solenoid (the switch that flips fuel supply between our dual tanks) and found the outlet had been broken off and repaired using aerial tube. This was also ineffectively secured. Within an hour the issue had been diagnosed, the broken solenoid had been bypassed. And we were back on the road operating with one fuel tank and a new solenoid on order. We also had the confidence that these guys knew exactly what they were doing and had provided a solid solution.
We can’t tell you how much of a relief it was. We felt like tackling them both with hugs, instead the affection was wholeheartedly directed towards their office dog Chevy!
The relief was huge because in the days prior we had endured so many ridiculous conversations. Firstly we were told something along the lines of ‘air in the fuel lines’. Then we were told ‘Ohh it’s your perished hose’, which, we should add somehow went unnoticed on the first service even though they would have had to reattach it. Then we were told it was our non-genuine parts (even though they had worked just fine up until that moment). Then we were told it was our non-genuine solenoid that could ‘pack up at any stage’ (even though it had worked just fine up until that moment). And then, we were told that we were carrying on because we were in the media. That last one annoyed the hell out of us, ‘ahh no’ we are ‘carrying on’ because we want our vehicle back to the condition it was in and we are wasting time/stress/money because of it.
And then, miraculously, after days of this circus… cue: beating drums… we were finally, gratefully, told the truth by the owner.
“We do not dispute that we broke the end of the fuel change over solenoid however. I also agree we should have rectified this immediately and made you aware of this”
Whoah, shut the front door, this was the first time anything was mentioned about them breaking the part and putting us back on the road without making us aware of it. And all of a sudden we were reading it. The abrupt honesty was shocking. And then we began to realise, days deep into this circus, just what had happened.
To have someone break something in our vehicle is not a problem. It’s fixable. But to have someone lie to you; to have someone break a part, not fix it and put you back on the road without telling you is another category of crazy. Because what that means is that they knowingly put us in a precarious and potentially dangerous situation. The ridiculousness of it. Why would you not just tell the truth? We see that as: Morally impetuous. Utterly disgusting.
So, where did that leave us? Appreciating the owners honesty? Yes. Disgusted at the others lie? Yes.
The owner has agreed to supply the part his team broke (it arrived in the post today). They have also agreed to pay for “reasonable” repairs for our chosen mechanics to rectify the issues they caused. We will do this in Sydney. The part was going to take a week to arrive in WA so we decided to drive back across Australia on one tank.
They have declined to refund the labour hours we paid for the service. So, in effect, we have paid for the initial mechanic to break the solenoid. That’s annoying.
They have declined to cover any of the accommodation we wasted while standing around on the side of the road waiting for them to come and get our car back on the road and the subsequent days we spent waiting for The Ridiculousness to be resolved.
We have sought advice from Consumer Protection and essentially they are doing what they legally have to do. The minimum. If we want anything else covered we would have to take it to small claims court and we are simply not interested in doing that. We have far more interesting things to invest our energy into. Like, ahh, driving from Sydney to London.
We won’t name the service centre because they have threatened us with lawyers if we slander or defame them. We were quick to remind them it is only slander or defamation if it is untrue. Everything we have said is true; readers around here know that we only tell the truth, because quite frankly why the hell wouldn’t we? But naming them comes down to a choice about what we want to invest our energy into.
In a way it’s a shame, because like my mother said, ‘What happens to people who don’t stand up for themselves like you two do?’
Moving forward, with all honesty, it’s fine. We just want our vehicle to work in the way it did before any of this happened. We were never interested in hearing a lie, we just wanted a sound resolution. We will forward them the bill. We will forget the 7 names of the individuals from that service centre. We will forget they exist. Because they don’t exist, do they? After all, one of the great beauties of travel is to roll on.
GETTING BACK TO WHAT’S IMPORTANT
Getting back to what’s important struck us both as we wandered through the Valley Of The Giants in Western Australia. At one point I hugged a tree about 400 years older than I am. I hugged it so hard and damn that Tingle Tree hugged the hell out of me right back. Soul = lifted!
Gareth wandered the tops of the tall trees enamoured in being eye to eye with the canopy of some of the tallest trees in the world. We walked alone and felt the sway of the suspension bridge.
The forest spoke to us both; and reminded us of what was important and the passing of time, on this ‘long’ journey we have set out on together.
THE BEAUTY OF ESPERANCE + CAPE LE GRAND
Esperance and Cape Le Grand National Park had mountains smashing it up with clear electric blue waters that made us both ohh and ahh; ‘This must be one of the most beautiful National Parks in Australia’ we said as we cruised to our camp.
Cape Le Grand was our last planned destination of our Australian leg of the journey. It was quite a powerful moment climbing around the rock face framing one of the most spectacular beaches of the entire journey knowing that we had achieved what we set out to do.
LOVING + NOT LOVING SO MUCH
NOT LOVING SO MUCH: The Ridiculousness of a lie rather than simply telling the truth + accidentally becoming one of those ‘cute’ couples that wear coordinated outfits
LOVING: Lucky Bay + Margaret River wine OMG + nights under the stars + quiet camp sites (well and truly out of peak season down here!) + gigantic kangaroos surrounding us + whales + beautiful colourful flowers of Western Australia’s South West + bakery treats + having a movie night ‘in’ inside the Troopy + peace + excitement building for the African leg of the expedition yewwwwww!
That’s us all wrapped up. From here we began the long drive East and we’ll tell you about that in the next Wrap Up.
Thanks for all your support guys. It is an absolute pleasure having you along for the ride with us. Onwards to Africa together!
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