The kindness of strangers

We recently experienced what can be classified as a “trip setback”. One of Claude’s wheels came off while we were driving which resulted in our lovely caravan being declared an insurance write off (if you want to read the full story check out this blog post we wrote for Australian Caravan+RV).

In the space of 30 seconds we went from a very high high to an extremely low low. No longer were we at the start of the highly anticipated northern WA leg of our trip. Instead, we were stranded, caravan-less, in a town where we knew no one, finding it difficult to get a roof over our heads (not many places take dogs. Thanks Ned).

the kindness of strangers

“Maybe the damage isn’t that bad?”

the kindness of strangers

Waking up in puddles

To top things off, in a separate incident, someone ran into our car resulting in substantial panel damage, Jono got gastro and then mice got into our food stores leaving litres of rancid long-life milk and destroyed food in their wake. Suffice to say the past few weeks have been an emotional rollercoaster.

However, despite being just about as far away from our families and support networks as possible while remaining on Australian soil, we have been absolutely amazed and overwhelmed by generosity. Strangers have offered their time, opened their hearts, their workshops and even their homes to us.

We read so many bad news stories that we couldn’t help but think that the world might appreciate hearing our little roll call of gratitude, so here it is. In order of appearance:

Peter is a Geraldton local who was driving the car behind us when our wheel blew out. He pulled over and collected our tyre from the side of the road, put it in the back of his car and drove it up to us. He helped Jono remove our hub while his two lovely kids patted Neddy and chatted with Laura, making her feel about a thousand times better. Then he took our hub with him, dropping it into his mechanic mate in town.

Agricultural mechanic, Danny, dropped everything and came straight out to reattach the wheel for us hopeless holiday-makers at what we’re sure was a very discounted rate. He didn’t want us to get fleeced by a towing company and so was even going to help us out with that until our insurer advised that they had this covered.

Hilary and Rylan are friends we’ve made on the road … via Instagram! We were planning to meet up anyway but when they heard about our troubles they bee-lined to Geraldton and spent a few days here, providing much-needed moral support, delicious meals and practical help. They are two of the most generous people we’ve ever met and we value their friendship enormously.

the kindness of strangers

Hanging with Hilary and Rylan on the Abrolhos Islands

Shayne owns Donegan Services, which is a boat repairs, fibre glassing and home maintenance and improvement company. We guess you could say he’s a bit of an all ‘rounder. The caravan repairs shop called Shayne in for his expert fibre glassing opinion and when he heard the insurance prognosis and saw how devastated we were, he immediately offered to help us out. He has let us move our caravan to his workshop and despite undergoing major surgery in the past couple of weeks, continues to power on, doing everything he can to keep our repair costs down.

William and Bob are vintage Olympic caravan enthusiasts, owners and restorers. When we were initially trying to figure out if it was possible to repair our van, we came across William via an internet search. Within 24 hours of messaging him he called us and suggested we post on the www.vintagecaravans.com forum, of which he is a member. We did so and were immediately contacted by Bob, who is the foremost expert on vintage Olympic caravans in Australia (and we’re pretty sure the world). Bob offered us lots of valuable advice and gave us confidence that the van was repairable.

Adrian, also a vintage caravan forum member, is a fellow Olympic Riviera owner who recently had all his running gear replaced. When he heard we were looking to do the same he gave us all his order paperwork so that it would be a simple matter of replicating his order … and then when he found out that the workshop he’d used hadn’t kept the measurements, he dropped his old axle back into them so they could use that as a template. How nice is that?

Linda, Andrew and their kids, Libby and Jimmy, own the lovely Gully Cottage in Rudds Gully, which is one of the few dog-friendly accommodations around Geraldton. We stayed with them on and off, between pre-booked guests, after the incident happened and we highly recommend it whether you’re a dog owner or not. It’s set on a beautiful rural property which looks over farmland towards the Indian Ocean. There’s farm birds aplenty and even friendly kangaroos to pet.

the kindness of strangers

Luxury!

When Linda realised that we needed somewhere Neddy-friendly to stay longer term, but that our budget wouldn’t stretch to hundreds of dollars a week, she offered us use of another small cottage on her property which she doesn’t normally rent out. She lets us help feed the animals, gives us eggs and even recently brought over a huge basket of vegetables. We are absolutely floored by her generosity.

the kindness of strangers

Laura’s happy place

There’s a lot of bad things that go on in the world but it is wonderful to see how much goodness there is, too. From the bottom of our hearts THANK YOU to each and every person who has helped us out over the past few weeks. We look forward to the time when it’s our turn to pass the kindness on.

the kindness of strangers

Surveying the damage in full


UPDATE: We did eventually get back on the road … First stop Kalbarri! You can read our Kalbarri Travel Journal post here.

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