Flats in the Outback

 
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The sun had just risen above the desert scrub as I returned to my tent from a morning walk. I could see everything, including the flat rear tyre on my brother’s Pajero 4×4. Oh, no! What are we going to do?
The previous afternoon my brother had taken a wrong turn. To get back on the right track, he’d cut through bush. Within minutes his front right tyre was flat. Now, in the middle of nowhere, his only spare was already on and my two didn’t match his stud pattern.
The only thing we could do was to leave the families and take the two flats in the Land Rover to the next town or station or …
When we arrived at the nearest station, large cattle dogs sniffed us as we tried to find someone. A noise near the horse stables alerted us to other life. The station owner was matter-of-fact when we explained our predicament.
OK, Pete, go and fix the tyres before you look at the bores.
We followed Pete to a machinery shed and pumped up the first tyre then placed it in a trough, marked the leak, then proceeded to remove the tyre from the rim by hand. Thump, thump, went the lever, as sweat poured off him. The repair made, the tyre was hit onto the rim, again by hand, pumped up and checked, and then the operation was repeated.
Pete just wandered off. “See ya,” he said.
My brother strolled after him, “Thanks, mate. What do I owe?
Nothin’ … someday I might need someone’s help.
We were thankful and amazed, a tough outback stationhand had granted grace and hospitality.
Upon our return, our families ran out from under the gums and cheered and within 20 minutes we were on the road—more a gravel station track—again.

Emus, kangaroos, goannas, galahs and wildflowers and were among the sights we enjoyed as we journeyed toward Mount Alexander. Sometimes I took the lead, other times my brother did. We would follow just out of the dust. But, when in front, you can’t tell whether someone is following. The Pajero wasn’t. Five kilometres of backtracking and we found my brother changing its rear right tyre. Again we got going, with me leading. I turned into Mount Alexander Station, where there would be fuel and tyre repairs. Fifteen minutes later, still no Pajero.
Where are they?” and, “Surely not!” were the only words verbalised as again we turned back.
Back two kilometres, there was the Pajero. This time the tyre was not only flat but also badly damaged. Taking the children and two flat tyres, I trekked back into Mount Alexander.
The news wasn’t good from the laid-back repairer, Jock: the compressor was down and there were no hand tools, but he thought he might be able to put in some plugs. He did—four in one leak. Jock was reluctant to fix the other tyre because he “could not charge for it.” He fixed it only because we needed a spare. Another three plugs, and using a tiny battery-powered compressor, we had pumped tyres and pumped people. A plug was worth $10, according to a sign, but Jock charged only $20 altogether. “You need the help,” was his candid comment. However, before I left the sun-saunered shed, Jock said, “You better pray for those tyres.” He meant it, and we did so.

There was no fuel at Mount Alexander, but that’s another story. We travelled another 250 km before making Gascoyne Junction. As the Pajero pulled in, that back tyre was on its way down again! But here there were fuel and tyre repairs.
Five flat tyres had confirmed to me that God’s grace was alive in Outback hospitality!