Cylone Debbie brings havoc to the Gold Coast. That’s for damn sure. I’m aware that venturing out in such weather can be hazardous to one’s health, to speak in a proper and gentlemanly fashion. Jesus, I can only keep that up for so long.
Ok, it’s bad weather, we have established that. But it all comes down to disaster preparation. I’m heading out in Charlie, my Series 3 Land Rover. Charlie is prepared, we have also established that. Let me explain. Charlie has had, like (yes I’m a teenager) a million dollars spent on rebuilding, maintenance and upgrades to do two things. Ensure reliability, and to increase protection of vital parts of the vehicle, thus adding to part 1, reliability.
As an example, note the rather time consuming airbox replacement , and hand built snorkel fitted to Charlie. This may not stop Charlie stalling in water due to water on the spark Plugs or distributor , but that can easily be fixed with a little drying out. However, taking a mouthful of water into the engine at mad-river-crossing speeds will, without doubt, ensure total engine failure. Something a little drying out wont fix.
This mouthful over with, I’m sure you understand the process here. Charlie has had lots done to make sure water is less of a problem. We have slowly been setting Charlie up to tackle very remote tracks, places where we have no choice but to self recover, and self repair.
That said, we arn’t going to be stupid and wreck the Land Rover, or kill ourselves. In this article you will note we did not cross any deep water, or venture into suspect areas. We did bypass a sign indicating the road ahead was closed, and it was. So we filmed our piece, turned aound and left.
It’s important I talk about this. I’m writing publicly so I don’t want to encourage stupidity. What I do with my old Land Rover is extensively researched for all articles and posts. Like with the towing post/video. I made sure Charlie can legally do the job, then set about making sure all the bits are in place to keep this straight in the eyes of Mr Plod ( the police). Not that the law is to be fully trusted to cover every situation, so in some cases I go beyond the legalities, if it helps me to sleep at night, or, more to the point, relax when I drive.
We all know that feeling. Perhaps you are aware of a dodgy tyre, only discovered miles from home. Maybe its brakes that have stopped functioning on a trailer, late on a wet night, you have to get the next 10km or so to be in a safe location. Those few kilometers are terrible, knuckles white from holding the steering wheel. You find yourself frantically checking all three mirrors as if they are security cameras, looking for a wanted offender. Your back tingles as you’re not even using the back of the seat, instead, sitting rigid, ready for some event to unfold.
That’s a not a cool way to travel.
So, we have established that Charlie the long suffering Series 3 Land Rover is set up to explore in poor weather, and Jack and I arn’t going to be wasting time and resources of busy emergency workers due to our caution , and self recovery methods, should the worst occur.
Cyclone Debbie. It wasn’t a Cyclone by the time it arrives on the Gold Coast, but it sure was the aftermath of one. Their is no way we would have had such weather without a cyclone nearby either. I’ve never seen such rain.
Charlie was in our shed/workshop over night. I contemplated a trip out. I knew internal cabin leaks would be an issue, but a little water never hurt a Land Rover. Jacks school was closed, being keen to help he became the cameraman again,so we grabbed our Sony action cameras, our still camera , and off we went. Out into the storm.
This is our view through the windscreen. Well, that’s not strictly true. The camera is inside Charlie but just misses the benefit of the wiper so the view is a little more dramatic than the reality of the situation, however, check out the water ! Both on the screen and under the bridge.
It’s pretty damn crazy.
But, a little further up the road and the situation became more serious. Not for us as we didn’t need to cross this torrent. But their are several homes on the other side of this, and no other way in.
This looks bad right ? But you probably can’t really gauge it without some sort of reference. I mean, if you have never been on this stretch of road it won’t mean much. Like the directions I was once given by a local farmer “turn at the next interection where the old barn used to be” used to be ?? How do I know where it used to be ! So, as a reference, check this out.
This is clipped from another video I produced a few weeks ago at the same crossing. Pretty damn amazing right ? Not is it just deep now, but its boiling and digging the dirt away. Their is no way I would cross this unless I didn’t have a choice. The depth is one thing, but the speed of the water is what I see as the real issue. It wouldn’t take much for Charlie to be pushed sideways by the raging current.
Leaving this location we headed back towards home. However, within a matter of 45 minutes or so the road had become considerably more flooded in several locations. Due to the driving rain it became hard to tell what was just a wet road, and what was a flooded road. This became an issue when I found myself increasing speed in an attempt to get out of the valley before things became too much for us.
I had to relax. We were ok in Charlie. I found out quickly that hitting the flooded sections too fast caused more problems than just ticking along and finding the correct path. Often too much speed caused a big splash. This would cause Charlie to miss fire occassionally, obviously the spark plug leads got a little wet.
The splashed water would often find its way through the gaps in the floor too. At some speeds this wasn’t a trickle, but more like a water blaster. Particularly from around the handbrake and the gearbox cover.
In typical Charlie style, we made it back. Would I trust another vehicle in challenging times like this ? No, sorry.
Why I hear you ask ? Simple. No, not a simple explanation, Charlie is a simple car. That’s it.
When I’m a thousand kilometers from home I want simplicity. I want that over anything. I don’t want super fast and climate air when in a heartbeat the engine check light comes on and my super flash engine is now in limp mode, or dead.
This storm was just another test for Charlie, and my ability to keep Charlie going. With each challenge I become more confident in the abilities of both of us to look after each other.
Jack and I created a video of the storm aftermath, and our travels on that day. It captures the events, and our abilities quite well.
We aim to record our challenges here, and update our experiences as we go. We are still new to this, but it’s about to get more exciting as we prepare Charlie for desert expeditions.