The quality of the light and shade along the road to the start of the Philosopher’s Falls walking track held us in thrall. We were lost in those ethereal moments. Yet Jeanette must continue to drive, stay on the road and not become oblivious to the fact she was the controller of a machine. But that was a hard ask in such a magical landscape. We were both very relaxed and very happy.
We reached the cul de sac at the end of the road, circled around and prepared to stop and park near the signpost to the Falls. The car was allowed to roll back to be closer to the edge of the road so that other vehicles might not to be obstructed. And it casually rolled right over a rock and came to a halt after some severe alerting noises beneath the car.
Hmmm. Neither of us spoke. The engine was turned off and the handbrake applied. We stepped out of the car. Jeanette onto the road. I stepped awkwardly into a ditch having not looked first. Under the circumstances it did not seem appropriate to make any sound of pain as my feet and legs seemed to move in unusual angles to each other. But no harm done. Strange how one possible calamity fills the mind so another is not considered.
Back we walked to have a look at the back left wheel. It looked quite comfortable resting calmly between two rocks. Very little of the car was resting on any rock. ‘Let’s get the weight out of the car!’ I started lifting eskies and bags from the car. Onto wet soil and plants and gravel.
Jeanette got back behind the wheel and gave it a good rev. All the tyres spun effortlessly and the car went nowhere. ‘OK, you get in and drive and I will push’, Jeanette directed. More happily spinning tyres.
Out came the car jack. ‘Let’s see if we can drive off with the jack up.’ No success. I looked around for rocks to fill the space beneath the tyre in the gap when the car jack was fully raised. Not many around at all except the two that were trapping our car, but I was able to find a few. With trial and error we made the jigsaw of rocks and stones work. Eventually we were able to create a fairly flat and immovable base that the tyre could get purchase on in order to roll over the front rock. Back into the driver’s seat I went, started it up and in full throttle and with Jeanette pushing, the car moved off with comparative ease.
We probably had an inflated view of our abilities but we smirked with pleasure in our achievement as we reloaded our gear. If we had been unsuccessful, Waratah was only an 11-12 kilometre walk away for us to get help – such a walk was not on our events packed timetable and itinerary.
Throughout the process I thought of taking photographs but I did not want to be seen as not engaged in the problem solving and helping. We should have. Thankfully we do have a record of the rocks taken after we parked in a completely different and flat spot.
I know these rocks look mild, and you must wonder what all the fuss was about. We were not travelling in a four wheel drive rather in a small around-the-town manual drive car (you know the sort where you manipulate a clutch) so our options were limited. But we laughed for a long time after this incident. Throughout the rest of our Tarkine adventures we amused ourselves looking for rocks to park over. Well no … not really.
There was one other positive aspect to this story. Around 5 or so years ago I sold my car (mostly I walk and take public transport to get around) and I have not driven a car since then. I wasn’t sure I could drive one. So to get into a manual car and think nothing of it, and to find that all those learned behaviours of the past came back automatically, was a special delight.