We should have stayed yet another day in Port Arthur as there is a lot more to see and do but the unceasing rain made the dirt roads difficult even for the Nissan so we decided to head north to Oatlands and Ross.
Kerrie wanted to see the infamous Female Factory at Ross where female convicts were sent if they got pregnant. It is said that there babies were killed but we need to study this more.
We arrived at Oatlands and the rain still had not ceased all day. Rivers were running high and we heard of flash flooding. We did not do this pretty town justice as it was a fascinating place being a town with most of the buildings and houses just as they were first built in the early to late 1800s.
We also heard that Hobart had experienced its wettest period for 60 years!
The first road into Ross was cut due to flooding but we got into the town via the second road to find the Caravan Park right on the river which was flooding too quickly for our comfort so we decided to head to Swansea.
Just near Campbell Town and the turn off to Swansea we heard a noise from the back and the van leaned precariously over.
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Pulling over we found the left van tyre had totally disintegrated. Rubber and wire was twisted around the wheel and axle and the rim was badly damaged.
We couldn’t even jack the wheel up as the verge we had stopped on was a dirt, grass and mud cesspool and the axle was almost on the ground.
We limped to a better spot and after cutting away with pliers we were able to free up the wheel from the debris.
Using two jacks and timber we managed to change the wheel while lying in mud.
Thankfully the incessant rain decided to stop just as we started to fix things up, the first time the rain had abated for 2 days and nights.
Now without a spare tyre or rim and Swansea still 70 km away and no mobile reception for most of that way, we decided to see if we could find a rim in Campbell Town, just up the road a ways.
The old bloke in the servo takes one look at the wheel, shakes his head and say’s, “You’ll need to see Gordon for that”.
We were directed to Gordon’s place just up from the town. It was full of car parts and machinery of every conceivable description. Only Gordon’s wife and daughter were home and they were a fantastic help.
We would go to the towns free camping are and wait for Gordon to get home which he did about 6.00pm.
Off we went back to Gordon’s where the aging gentleman rummaged through the impossible maze of bits and pieces and came up with an old wheel with the same stud pattern as ours.
“This is what I was looking for”, he exclaimed through the cigarette but that threatened to burn of his lips at any moment.
I was amazed that anyone could remember where anything was in this 1 acre area of stuff as piled high as a house.
The wheel had an old tyre on it which Gordon reckons “..might be alright”, so he proceeds to start his air pump and blow it up.
Well … as air pressure was introduced from many tiny rotted edifices in the tyre spouted fountains of water though old Gordon reckons, “just a bit o water in ‘er”.
Well as the water fountains continued even old Gordon became as sceptical as us as to the tyre usefulness Off he goes muttering something about a new tyre and after clanging and banging an the sound if Lord knows what being rearranged he appears smiling holding up a brand new tyre.
“Just get the old one off. Won’t be a jiff”, says Gordon.
One and a half hours later old Gordy’s still struggling with the tyre even though he has a full tyre replacing machine at his disposal.
“Never ‘ad one this bloody ‘ard before,” he says and as the tyre finally separates revealing the rim’s rusty chemical composition which was the obvious cause of the tyre fusing to the metal.
“Oh yeah, had a truck tyre once. Even run the bloody bulldozer over it an’ it wouldn’t budge.”
“What did you do?” I said, intrigued.
“Took the bastard out the back, set fire to it and burnt the bloody thing orf”.
Another half an hour was spent on the grinder getting the rust off the old rim.
How could we escape?
Where would we go to get another 1971 Holden wheel rim?
What if we have another blowout on the way to more promising territory?
We were trapped into accepting Gordon’s efforts on our behalf!
Gordon finally finished getting the new tyre on to the tune of my thanks but he cut me short with, “Don’t whistle yet son.”
The big test came as the tyre was pumped up.
Air began to bubble out in a couple of locations and my heart sank at the thought of having to go through the whole routine again, but Gordon, showing a masterful grasp of the hidden science of escaping air, bashes the crap out of the tyre with his sledge hammer appearing as if he had lost his grip on reality and was struggling with some tyre demon that had possessed him.
Miraculously the escaping air ceased!
“Lets get outta here,” I’m thinking and Kerrie sweetly smiles at old Gordy and says, “How much do we owe you Gordon?”
“150 ‘ll do”!
Poor Kerrie had only drawn $100 in cash thinking maybe $50 or $60 would be the damage.
Don’t worry,” says Gordon, “I’m orf to the pub and I’ll follow you up the bank teller”.
We crashed into bed on the side of the road and I couldn’t help but feel grateful to old Gordon for his efforts while at the same time feeling we’d parted with too much for too little.