Brokedown in Townsville

21st January, Cardwell and Townsville, Australia

Ian writes:

Today we continued the slow but steady push south by leaving Mission Beach first thing in the morning. We took a quick look at the beach first but didn't linger - one beach is much the same as another. Or at least that's how we feel at the moment anyway.

We took a brief lunch stop at a place called Cardwell then continued on to Townsville - a place with a name that sounds like it came straight out of Police Squad/Naked Gun. Yes, it sounds dull, and if you ask me it looked it too. In some ways it looked more developed than Cairns and the layout was more sprawling than Cairns' grid-like centre, but it didn't immediately inspire me. We stopped for a while and took a look around the Flinders Mall. The place had a closing-down-sale feel to it. There were no really big department stores and the selection of stores here left a lot to be desired. I asked a local whether there was an HMV or record store nearby and was told that no such thing existed in the centre; we'd have to go to a shopping mall in a suburb to find that. So we did. Almost

Just as we were leaving the town centre for the shopping mall, the van sputtered, gave out a loud bang then lost power. I indicated, pulled over to the left and parked up by the kerb on a main road. I switched off the ignition then checked the engine for any obvious problems. Stepping back in to the van, I turned the key once more. Nothing. We weren't going anywhere.

"Make sure you get breakdown cover," was one of the pieces of advice offered by big bruv Andy. Well, we were going to arrange it. Ironically, I had made a mental note to phone up the RACQ this evening to get cover, but it seems I'd left it too late. Heck, we'd been itching to get away from Cairns and it got pushed to a back-burner. Mistake, methinks.

In the end we had to call out a tow-truck. Thankfully this only cost $40, but we still found ourselves at a camp site right next to the Ross River (just after rainfall when the mozzies come out to play) with nowhere to go. At least we had some power for the fan and we weren't camping out by the side of a busy road for the evening. Things could have been worse - we could have been in the middle of nowhere when the van broke down, out of mobile phone reception or hundreds of kilometres away from any garage, but thankfully we'd been in then middle of one of Queensland's largest towns when it happened. As we sat there, immobile, I decided I should make that call to RACQ and get cover straight away.