By the afternoon of my ninth day in Australia, I had seen six dead kangaroos by the road (apparently killed by cars) and eaten a seventh. I was starting to wonder if I’d actually see any live ones.
We had had a nice day exploring Kalbarri National Park and its incredible gorges and there were still a few hours to go before the sun set when we were driving out of the national park to a rest area by the Northwest Coastal Highway, where we intended to stay the night.
I was driving at that point and the we only crossed a car coming from the other direction once every 10 minutes or so. That was when it happened.
I saw two kangaroos by the side of the road and incredibly, there were alive! It happened quickly and my friend hadn’t even noticed them. I was so overjoyed to see my first living kangaroos in Australia that I wanted to go back and take a picture of them.
The road wasn’t too wide and while trying to make a U-turn, I backed our campervan out of the paved road. The ground was soft and the wheels sank.
That’s not good, I thought. We were in deep shit.
You don’t want to be stuck in the middle of nowhere, especially when it’s about to get dark. But this wasn’t a time to panic. Shit happens. You just have to work your way out of it.
At first, we tried to work on the loose sandy soil beneath the rear wheels by adding twigs and pouring water to let the tyres have a better grip. But the van was already sitting on it’s bum and it didn’t look like it would help much.
And then we noticed a dark blue 4WD (four-wheel drive) car heading towards us. We signalled the driver to stop and were so grateful when he did. Mic was in his early fifties and he was driving towards Kalbarri with his two pre-teen boys.
He didn’t take long to figure out how grave the problem and how we could get ourselves out of it. He initially tried tying our van to his car and pulling it out. But that didn’t work. So, we started making efforts to lift the wheels out of the hole they’d dug themselves into and filling in the space below the wheels.
By this time, some other cars that were passing by, also stopped to ask if they could help. Everyone knew they’d not like to be in our shoes at the moment and offered to help in whatever way they could. But it was apparent Mic knew what he was doing and we thanked everyone who stopped and told them we’d be all right.
With the help of both Mic’s and our jacks, we managed to lift the car’s rear wheels and filled the spaces below with dirt and poured water so that the ground would be sticky and the wheels did not sink again.
Mic went back to his car and pulled us once again. This time it worked. And we were so happy and relieved.
Before he went on his way, Mic said he lived with his sons in Carnarvon and said we could stay on his property when we passed that way. We said we’d definitely let him know if we were around. He gave us his number and left.
My much-relieved friend said this was what she called Australian countryside hospitality.
We went through all the trouble, but the situation taught us some life skills and we made a friend. My belief in humanity deepened and once again, I realised how incorrect was the the idea of a “big, bad world out there” that is stuffed into the heads of so many kids every day.
The following week, we were in Carnarvon and stayed with Mic and his kids for a night. He cooked some yum crayfish for us and we had a good time chatting over rum.
Here’s to Australian countryside hospitality!