I’ve been having some trouble with my car. I can be driving happily along and all of a sudden, it just cuts out! This has been very unsettling for me as it has occurred five times over the last few days, two of these with no warning, in the middle of a very busy intersection. The upshot is …… Hazard Lights on flash and sit and wait until someone stops to give me a push to safety or it starts again or I get towed! I have had it looked at by my mechanic and by roadside assist with no luck. It just doesn’t do it when I want it to as it is obviously electrical but enough is enough and tomorrow I am aiming to get it to the mechanics workshop, with the message ….. I don’t want it back until you know what it is and it is fixed!! I have to add that the public have been very tolerant and helpful, especially late at night, with plenty of offers of help and a push from the local constabulary!
Anyway, all the car nonsense got me thinking of another time long, long ago, when our car broke down on the way home from a holiday. The trouble was that the holiday we had been on was in Adelaide, South Australia and we were travelling by car, approximtely 2000 kilometres back to Brisbane, Queensland, with two children – a 4 year old and 1 year old! We cooked our motor, just 500km into the trip home, the other side of Broken Hill in Outback Australia! It was desert and it was late afternoon and there was nothing but flat road to be seen anywhere. Oh yeah, of course it was before mobile phones. What to do?
We decided that, Adrian (my hubby) would hitchhike back into Broken Hill, find a tow truck and return with said tow truck to tow us back into the city. I, meanwhile, would stay in the car with the boys and wait! I knew it would take at least a couple of hours but there was not really any other solution. As we waved Adrian off in the car that picked him up for the journey back to town, I felt decidedly alone and even a bit scared. I was hoping the boys might sleep a little but it was hot with the sun beating down on the car and I had to ration the water and the snacks that we were carrying with us. Sleeping wasn’t high on the list of things the boys wanted to do. As the time ticked by, I took them for little walks but I had to be conscious of watching for snakes and spiders. As the sun began to go down, I locked myself and the boys in the car and was told by one of the few passing trucks – “Not to open the doors for anyone, especially if we were stuck there for the night.” Not altogether, soothing when the truckie had pulled over on the opposite side of the road from me and had watched me for about 15 minutes before coming to speak to me! Thankfully, he drove off immediately after speaking with me.
After almost 3 hours, Adrian and a tow truck driver appeared on the horizon and I could feel the relief wash over my body. We spent that night in a motel and met with a mechanic the following morning. Our car, a Peugeot, was going to take at least a week to fix, as parts had to be trucked up from Adelaide and that would take some time. About this time, I began commenting on the fact that this was surely the worst holiday ever!
We had been visiting Adrian’s elderly parents, in Murray Bridge, where the weather had been wet and cold with freezing winds. There was exactly nothing for the Boys to do at their Grandparents retirement village and the unit we were staying in, had proven to be too small for 2 energetic Queensland kids who were used to spending their lives outside in the sunny weather. At first, they had been given a bedroom to play in but by the time we left, they had been relegated to a blanket on the floor of the living room, in a corner. It seems they were too noisy, too dirty and too naughty to be trusted anywhere other than where their Nana could watch they didn’t break anything!
And now we would be stuck in Broken Hill for another week!! So we did what any desperate parents would do and contacted our local church in the town and asked for help! Best idea ever!! Within minutes of the phone call, we were collected from the Motel and were being welcomed by the local Pastor and his wife, and were being settled into their home! This near-to-retirement age couple, lived in a huge 6 bedroom, 3 bathroom house – alone! Their children were all grown up and living away from home. They had a safely fenced yard with a swing set and a trampoline, that the boys could play on and most importantly along with the beautiful sunny weather, they had the most giving hearts. I have never felt so welcomed anywhere before, in my life.
These beautiful people realised pretty quickly that our ‘holiday’ had been stressful and not relaxing at all. They, willingly, took charge of our kids and arranged a heap of things for us to do as a couple and as a family. At night, Adrian and our host discussed in depth their ministry and shared tips and ideas. I was pampered and caught up on my sleep and was not allowed to help with the cooking or cleaning! What we thought was going to definitely be the worst holiday we had ever had, soon became the best holiday we had ever had.
We discovered that Broken Hill and it’s surrounding area was some of the most beautiful and interesting parts of Australia. We were privileged to be taken on a tour of a mine – mining at that time being the backbone of the town. We also discovered that it was the home of the Brushmen of the Bush.
We were able to visit Pro Hart‘s famous gallery and came home with personally written messages to each of us from Hugh Schulz. Both of these artists have since passed away but their genius and kindness is forever etched on my heart. Pro Hart was an amazing innovator and a great collector. He was also very famous for this commercial made in 1980’s.
We discovered the little town of Silverton, where many Australian movies are made, due to the many, many sunny days! There was also a thriving art scene there too, with one gallery hanging paintings done using the the Australian icon sandwich spread – Vegemite!
I learned that not everything that looks bad, is in fact bad. We returned home from our South Australian road trip holiday, refreshed and relaxed. And even after 30 years I can still remember, with great joy, this time in our lives. Now to transfer this good advice to myself …… 30 years later! Sometimes the bad or hard stuff leads me right up to the wonderful. I just need to be open to it.
Here’s hoping my car will be back on the road soon. And be reliable – so that I can be out and about again …… looking for the wonderful!