Tony and I were up early again, setting things up for another potential day without the car. I drove into town to test it out, and get milk and a couple of other supplies. At first it didn’t overheat, but when I cranked the AC up the temperature started going up. I dropped off the milk and fridge and other necessities and took it around to the mechanic, this time with the temp still hot so that he could see it. He jumped in to the drivers seat and we took it for a drive, he could get it to cool down but then it did heat up again when driving around town.
He decided to change the thermostat – the one he’d ordered hadn’t come so he’d put in an after-market one, he thought maybe putting in the genuine part might fix it. He dropped me back at the caravan park and said he’d call me when it was done.
We spent the morning hanging around again, playing with the puppies and kittens, doing puzzles, I read Brisingr for a while. Tony went for a bike ride on Caitlin’s bike, to get a new puncture kit for his tyre which was flat again. He had discovered a big thorn through his tyre which may have been repuncturing the tube. Being near the RAAF base, we’d heard fighter planes several times during our stay but hadn’t seen them, today they came right overhead which was a bit exciting.
I talked to the mechanic after lunch and changing the thermostat hadn’t helped. They’d tried a few other little things with no luck, and the next step was to take out the water pump and check it. I asked if it would be fine to drive to Darwin, and he talked about how to manage things if the temperature started to rise, so we decided to pack up and head north and try to get the car fixed when we got to Darwin.
Tony rode over to get the car around 2pm, and we had everything packed up and ready to go by just after 4, one of our quickest pack ups (from scratch) yet. We rang a caravan park in Batchelor and booked in for the night so we weren’t worried about having to try to find somewhere when we arrived. The old billy goat came over while were packing and it took Tony quite a while to get rid of him – he just wanted to stick around and wouldn’t be pushed or dragged or scared away – he even went up on his hind legs a couple of times like he wanted to fight - which was scary to watch but didn’t bother Tony. We said goodbye to the owners and to the puppies (kids were a bit sad at that) and finally left.
Heading out of town and for the first half an hour or so we were a bit worried about how the car would manage, especially with the load of the trailer on. Whenever it heated up Tony popped it into neutral and revved the engine and it cooled back down, and after a while the temperature stopped going up. Tony found that driving a bit faster than usual helped keep it cooler too.(we normally sit around 80 or 90km/hr with the trailer on, 100km/hr seemed to work better today). After an hour or so we tried putting the air conditioner on and the temperature stayed stable – so it was a much more comfortable drive than we had anticipated, and we made it to Batchelor by 6.50pm. Reception at the caravan park closed at 7, and the guy was happy to see us as he thought perhaps our car hadn’t made it. He said it would have stayed open a little longer for us seeing as we’d rung – he was so friendly and helpful and it was a great welcome after a hot and frustrating day.
It was practically dark by the time we started setting up, in a great bush site at the back of the caravan park. There were a lot of mosquitoes but we sprayed ourselves and things settled down a bit. We are fairly well practiced at setting up now so the dark didn’t slow us down too much – and it was so great to see the stars again! Our campsite in Katherine had a light on a big pole right next to our tent, so we were under artificial light the whole evening and night, and it was so refreshing to just be outside and feel part of the night and the surrounds again. We hadn’t realised how much our campground was getting us down, as well as the worry about the car it was hot and dry and dusty and there was no view, it was too far to walk to anything in the heat so we had felt quite stuck – it’s different having a rest day because we choose to as opposed to having a rest day because we can’t get anywhere. The kids explored the park while Tony and I settled back into a happy holiday routine and both felt like we were enjoying our trip again and could look forward to the rest of it.
We had a conglomeration of left overs for dinner and then tried to set up our new tent fans to cool the tent down a bit. This is definitely the most humid place we’ve been, we were still sweating profusely as we went to bed and there was little relief from the heat.