North Stradbroke Island: Day Two

My car breaks down.

This is also a story of how helpful Australians can be. We spent the morning exploring the beach but for the afternoon, we wanted to explore “central” North Stradbroke Island.

With all the kids and wives loaded up into our two cars, not a straightforward logistical achievement, we were ready to fire up and hit the road. I put my keys into the ignition and gave them my usual quarter clockwise turn.

At this point I usually hear the mechanical equivalent of throat clearing before the 3.7 L engine throbs into action. But on this occasion I heard what sounded like a cheap tin machine gun firing off a round in my direction.

Maybe the “my direction” thought was just my paranoia, but either way the car wouldn’t start.

Auto MechanicBeninoz and I lifted the bonnet, repeatedly turned the ignition to re-listen to that machine gun sound, scratched our heads, stroked our chins, pretended we knew what we were doing and concluded unanimously that it definitely wasn’t the battery. We seemed to have plenty of power so it was almost certainly the starter motor that had packed up.

This represented a major problem. It was Sunday, we were on North Stradbroke Island, there were no garages, let alone a garage that would be stocking a replacement Jeep starter motor and we were due to catch a ferry back to the mainland at three o’clock the next day.

Hmmm! More chin stroking.

I went to the reception of the campsite and asked the guy there if he knew of any mechanics. He told me there was a local mobile mechanic called Phil and dialled his number for me before handing over the phone.

“Oh mate, I’ve been working all morning and just got in. I really must pack it in now for the weekend. Really sorry. Try this number and ask for Rob” said Phil.

So I did and got redirected to his message service. The Sunday afternoon part was beginning to prove a bigger problem than the North Stradbroke Island part.

I returned to my car and continued stroking my chin.

Then, about five minutes later, the guy from reception turned up. “How’s it going?” He asked. “Not good,” we explained. “Looks like the starter motor has had it and we can’t get a mechanic to come out today.

Just like Beninoz and I before him, the guy stood over the open bonnet and asked me to try starting it again. So I treated him to the tin machine gun sound.

“It’s your battery!” he said with absolute certainty. With that, he disappeared again promising to return with some jump leads. Ben and I muttered incomprehensibly about how it couldn’t possibly be the battery, I had full lights showing on the dashboard, I had enough power to fire up that machine gun sound and I even had interior lights!

We were still muttering when our guy returned in this huge open back truck with a pair of jump leads that looked big enough to connect the National Grid! He hooked me up and the car started first time. Our problem was over. And that’s what I call service over and beyond. From my experience, it’s typical Australian. Thanks to him, we were able to go exploring.

And this is what we saw when we did. No prizes for guessing todays non human special guest appearance……

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