Part 1 – December 27, 2015
I parked Vincent overnight for a sleep at Tilpa Weir on the Tilpa floodplain, between Bourke and Wilcannia, Monday last week. It rained overnight and turned the road out next day into an impassable bog of river mud. We were stuck in the mud on a paddock for the day and the next night. My survival kit of food and water was in the boot of the car, which resulted in me getting pretty grimy in the process of bringing it back into the car. No phone reception or internet service available, and no-one was going to rescue us due to the remoteness of the place. I worked Vincent hard to get us out by the Wednesday morning and back to Tilpa Hotel, then had to remove the rear wheels to dig out the mud, which had basically acted like a handbrake during our race back to civilization. Also managed to bottom out and crack the sump oil tank.
That’s the short version of the story. When I arrived in Broken Hill on Christmas Eve I was fortunate indeed to find a NRMA mechanic who had us ready for the long journey ahead within about 4 hours.
Part 2 – November 22, 2017
In the long version, I’m at Tilpa Hotel having a meal in the fading light of the Monday. A couple of tourists stop in for a thirst quencher. I overhear them discussing whether to stay in Tilpa, or keep going and try to reach a sealed highway before the rain arrives. It’s like they are taking the internal dialogue right out of my mind. I’m well and truly over the bumping and rattling of this damnable corrugated road: I can rest tonight and complete it in the probable puddles and potholes in the morning, or keep on rattling through the darkness for a couple of hours. Neither option is appealing: it’s quite the dilemma.
Fast forwarding now to my second night at Tilpa, bogged in the paddock as I am, and sleeping in the driver seat with the window open. I’m having a weird dream about nothing in particular, and something is huffing and snorting in my face. I’m slowly waking up now and beginning to realise that the dream has stopped but the breathing on my face has not. I open my eyes and begin to make out the source of the breathing: the very large head of a bull! I immediately and involuntarily shout with surprise down its throat. It leaps backwards, spins away, then spins again to stare me down. I notice a bunch of cows suddenly shooting away in all directions.
2 years have passed since then, and I’ve only just learned to recognise the second dilemma I had been facing!