Well the trip had an auspicious start, to say the least; the morning or our emigration, and while coming to the first major intersection of the trip roughly 30 km out of Port Douglas, the Landy’s brake pedal went suddenly, and with great determination, to the floor. Natch.

“Glen, I think we just lost our brakes,” I said, cruising around the turn at a bit of an alarming rate.

Now for any other group of people, this would have been an unavoidable delay. I mean, brakes seem to be the somewhat essential element in motoring about, wouldn’t you say?

Glen looked over, “We can still make it, right?”

Brakes on a Land Rover, as you know, are a relative thing anyway. “Brakes” is really much too strong a word for them to begin with, “pedal that may slow you down” seems a great deal more appropriate. Anyway, whatever they may have been, they were lost to us now. Luckily, the anemic nature of the engine prevented us from actually going fast to begin with, so it was not an issue. If we needed to stop suddenly, we could, in effect, open the doors and use our feet, Flinstone’s style. Or, if needed, abandon ship all together by just stepping out.

“Well, yeah,” I said now, “just with no brakes.” Really, it didn’t matter.

Beyond this one obstacle, our first leg of the trip was, as anticipated, without incident. Without incident, that is, until we left the bitumen.



We all took turns driving that day, to familiarize ourselves with the quirkiness of the fully laden Land Rover, and to give everyone a much needed change of perspective of the dirt track. It’s was Sue’s turn at driving now. And after a few exhilarating gear grinding starts and near stall hill-ascents, she was getting the hang of it. At least right up until the time she tried to kill us all with a wildly stupendous driving tactic; attempting to take a sharp bend without slowing.

It all happened so fast, and, concurrently, in slow motion. There was an immediate silence in the car; we all knew what was coming, but were helpless to do anything to stop it. All we could do is sit and stare, in a sort of blank horror.

The car ran off the road, hit a sign, then ran into a ditch and tipped precariously. I held my breath. “Well now this is a fine start to our trip,” I though, “not a few hours out and already we’re the biggest dickheads in the history of the Cape York trip.”

We continued through the ditch, then, with a muffled “whoomp” half drove, half flew, through an unsuspecting bush. It never stood a chance.

Just then, quite miraculously, the Landy silently started to regain its bearings; touching back down to terra firma with all four wheels and slowing down. We were going to make it!

We coasted for a bit, Sue’s hands firmly clutching the wheel – more as a brace for impact then for guidance – then the Landy slowed, sputtered and, finally, stalled. Silence.


Copyright 2007 drivenbydiscovery productions