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Outback breakdown: What to do?

By Michael Borg | Photos Matt Fehlberg, 30 Oct 2016 Gear

Outback breakdown: What to do?

Walking you through a real-life remote-area breakdown

I’m in the middle of nowhere and I start hearing a clicking noise that gets progressively louder.

I eventually work out it’s from the rear wheel area and mistakenly diagnose it as just a rock or something caught in the brakes. Yep, big mistake! Well, you might have guessed it, the noise just got louder and louder until the rear wheel bearing collapsed and rendered the vehicle useless.

Now, I reckon a fella’s frame of mind and the amount of energy exerted is a massive thing to consider when you’re broken down. So, instead of pulling up in the sun and ripping things apart in the heat, I chose to pull up in the shade and relax until it cooled down a bit. That gave me some time to assess the situation in the right frame of mind – not a cooked one.

Realising I was in a real breakdown predicament, it was time to start thinking about how to handle the situation. The steps are pretty easy – conserve your energy, preserve water and wait!

ration waterI had plenty of water on board and, after checking the map, I knew there was a river only a kay or two up the road as well. So my main priorities of having adequate water and shade were covered – phew!

Luckily, in my situation, I had the tools and skills to pull the hub apart and regrease the bearings enough to limp the Troopy a few kays until I found phone reception and was able to call for help.

Once I had alerted the relevant authorities, I got the vehicle on to the main track and put the bonnet up to signal that the vehicle was, in fact, broken down and help was needed.

sit bonnet up
If you can’t get the vehicle going, the best thing you can do is prepare yourself to get somebody’s attention and wait in the shade near your vehicle for as long as it might take.

You’ll exert far less energy sitting around in the shade than walking in the sun. You’ll probably end up getting help a lot quicker, too!

At the end of the day there are plenty of people who travel with a convoy of 4WDs when heading out bush, which is obviously a much safer option than going solo.

wait till vehicle help arrivesSo what am I trying to say? Simple. If you’re well prepared, being stranded doesn’t have to be as frightening as you think it might be. Most of the time a breakdown in the Outback won’t turn into a life-threatening situation.

Just take the time to prepare properly and the worst thing about a breakdown in the Outback should be that you’ll have to stay put for a few days – and we can all live with that, eh?