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That time I went out for a takeaway food fix and ended up in Emergency

Just before the world went into an enforced lockdown thanks to coronavirus, we found ourselves forced to stay at home for a few days for another reason – floods!

After coming through the January 2020 bushfire emergency thankfully unscathed, mother nature decided we needed yet another adventure and sent 360mm of rain to us. In one week. For context, the annual average rainfall around here is 624mm!

As a result, we found ourselves stranded at home, with the roads in and out underwater, eating baked beans straight from the tin (okay, slight exaggeration) and watching the world, including our neighbour’s portaloo, float by (not an exaggeration).

Little did we know that it would be good practice for the apocalypse heading our way.

Anyway, when the water finally subsided, Mr Tree Changer decided a celebratory meal from our favourite local restaurant was in order.

Unfortunately, as Uber eats hasn’t started 4WD or drone deliveries in our area yet, this meant a 90 minute round trip to town to grab our meal.

So off we set when I had the bright idea of checking the levels of our river and the small dam on the other side of our property.

And that’s where the fun, and path to our local emergency department, started.

Our tour began well. We quickly confirmed the river was still well above the weir and our neighbours on the other side would be relying on catapult deliveries of bread, milk and baked beans for another week.

As we drove down the graded dirt road to our dam, I commented that things actually looked pretty good, promptly putting the mockers on us.

Our Nissan Titan (also fondly referred to as ‘the truck’ in a red neck voice) stopped very suddenly with an odd thunk, with Mr Tree Changer letting out a few choice words followed by the initial assessment that something must have broken in the suspension.

It slowly dawned on him this was not the case, as I simultaneously jumped out of the truck to take a look and slowly sunk up to my shins – we were stuck in liquified mud.

The photos in the gallery below don’t really do justice to just how stuck we were. After a few attempts at driving out of the mess, which only served to dig us in deeper, Mr Tree Changer trudged the kilometre back home to grab the other 4WD (a Nissan Patrol) with the winch.

Now would be a good time to cue the Benny Hill music.

With the light fading and our takeaway getting very cold, we set the trusty old Patrol up to drag the truck out and got underway. And promptly also got it bogged.

To cut a long story short, the 4WD Recovery course we completed 12 months ago came in really handy.

For the car people: we spent the next hour doing low range, diff locked wheel spins, digging both cars in deeper with the help of a snatch strap before giving up on that plan.  We ended up winching the Patrol out through a three-point turn (4 pulls), then winching the Titan out through the winch rope, snatch block and about 50 metres of snatch straps, winch extensions and tree protectors.

For the non-car people: after lots of mucking around and trying lots of car recovery stuff we got both cars out!

By which time we had missed the beautiful sunset, and wished we had worn something warm when we headed for that quick trip into town.

We also learned two very important new lessons: walking on liquified mud is still like driving on ice, and Mr Tree Changer’s shoulder doesn’t like sliding into fence posts!

Which is how we found ourselves sitting in the Emergency department of our local hospital eating servo sandwiches at midnight waiting for a shoulder x-ray. At least country hospitals are much quieter than city ones (and thankfully nothing was broken, just badly sprained!).

Tree changer lessons learned?           

  • You should always have your camera set ready to video this stuff – I’m sure I could have taken out a Funniest Home Video prize with this effort!
  • There is such a thing as liquified mud, and it’s not as cool as it sounds.
  • First Aid and 4WD Recovery courses are a must if you live down dirt roads 40 minutes from your local takeaway.

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