From weather forecasts of torrential rain, down to our gut instincts, Steve and I tried to fight the urge to go away camping over Melbourne Cup weekend. We told ourselves the forecast would just be wrong anyway (in our defense, this is Melbourne, where the forecast changes minute to minute), we thought that if we managed to set up camp before the rain hit we'd be okay, we told ourselves it would be good fun. And we knew we needed a break.
But a break is precisely what we didn't get.
8:30am: We headed off full of hope. Our friends had found a new camping spot, so we were going to drive there, set up camp and shelters and sit out the rain before the rest of the weekend became blissfully relaxing. It all went well for a few hours. That is, while we were on made roads and highways.
After lunch: We started heading off into the bush, and it all went pear-shaped rather quickly. First, the roads had changed and those that hadn't changed had locked gates. We were lost, but managed to find our way eventually - what this meant, though, was that the time until rain and darkness was becoming limited. We ended up on the track we intended to reach, the one that led to this new campsite. Except that it required a river crossing. And the river was really, really deep, and flowing really, really fast. We decided not to do it, and turned around instead.
4:00pm: During the time we had been driving, the rain had begun. And the track we had come along was muddier. Driving back over it, our car started sliding and ended up in this:
|Can anyone spot a tyre amongst all that mud??|
5:00pm: By this time, we were all getting a bit edgy. Soon, it would be dark. It was already raining. We really needed to find somewhere to set up camp, get a fire going (a necessity for warmth and for cooking dinner). And Steve and I had Abbey in the backseat, where she had been since 8:30am (minus a lunch break). She was doing really well - she hadn't made a single noise of complaint - but surely that would soon end. As we continued to drive down this track, we spotted some side tracks - and the guys decided it would be a good idea to drive down some of them to see if there were camping spots there. Steve headed down one, sure that the ground looked firm. He even walked some of it to check, and found a turning spot that looked fine, so he kept driving down.
5:05pm: Things turned bad very quickly after we headed down that side track. In trying to turn around, our car had begun sliding again and we were stuck. We called the others, sure that our friend's car would be able to pull us out. He tried. And he, too, got stuck. Uh-oh.
5:10pm: It was pouring with rain, but Abbey was getting over it all. What is a mother to do in this situation? I got her raincoat and gumboots and we climbed out of the car. That was that - Abbey was thrilled with the whole situation. Happy as... a toddler in mud.
6:00pm: After a few tries of having a third friend try to pull us out (without bringing his car too far down and also getting stuck), the guys realised that nothing was going to work. They sent the friend with the unstuck car to find help.
6:30pm: Help arrived, in the form of another camper with a four-wheel-drive. He came down the track, inspected the situation, and got straight to action, instructing the guys to let down their tyre pressure - almost completely. The guys weren't sure - in everything they had learnt about four-wheel-driving they had always been instructed not to let the tyres down too far - but this man insisted. What else was there to do but trust him?
7:00pm: The cars were free! After letting the tyres down to almost flat, the man hit the accelerator on each and drove them out of the mud. Thankfully, there was no damage to either car.
7:10pm: After putting more air in the tyres, and thanking our help profusely (and paying him in beer), we looked at our options. None of which was really that great. We could persist in finding a spot around that area? No! - us girls gave a very definite answer on that one. We could head down to that town we drove through that had a caravan park? Yes! - a strangely definite excitement about that option, considering our hatred of caravan parks. But, after all, there would be warm showers and cooking facilities there.
8:00pm: We arrived at the caravan park. And it was full to the brim - with campers spread out onto the footpath. It turned out the Jayco caravan convention, or some such thing, was being held at that particular caravan park that weekend. Just our luck. We were all very tired and over it by this stage. Abbey was crying in the backseat (from tiredness - luckily we had some food for her so she had eaten a dinner of sorts in the car). We rang our friends who were staying at a holiday house 'nearby' (an hour and a half away). A new plan was devised.
9:30pm: We arrived at the holiday house, put Abbey down in a bed, had warm showers, and cooked dinner. At last, the never-ending trip had ended. And we had to laugh as we told our friends the story of our day.
It had taken us thirteen hours to drive to a holiday house just two hours from home.