After visiting Palm Valley, our plan to was to head to Kings Canyon to meet up with some mates who were up from Melbourne and Sydney. We stopped into Hermannsburg to suss out the road beyond Finke Gorge National Park and we were advised to take the other way around to Kings Canyon. About 30km out of Hermannsburg, our temperature gauge was showing heat.
We stopped on the side of the road and Dave stuck his head under the Troopy. The radiator had a massive crack in the seam on the bottom.
At about 1:30pm, Dave applied a quick-drying putty but it did not hold. At 2:40pm he tried some epoxy and left it for an hour. We got impatient and filled up the radiator but the epoxy hadn’t set yet and it didn’t hold.
People stopped to offer help, tools or to pass on messages. Luckily, a car from Hermannsburg, with a local elder in the passenger seat passed us and we were able to get permission to stay on the roadside over night. He said yes, and even suggested we make a fire to keep warm.
We decided to try the epoxy again but stay on the roadside overnight to allow it to dry.
In the morning, we held our breath as we filled the radiator with water. Despite a constant drip, we packed up and hoped for the best as we fanged it back to Hermannsburg. We got about 23km before the temperature gauge was in the red again. We had a look and the water was spurting from the crack like a super soaker! Dave let it cool before refilling the radiator and we continued to Hermannsburg where we refilled our containers with enough water to get back to Alice Springs 120km away. Juz also made some phone calls to wreckers in Alice for radiator prices.
We estimated that with about 1 hour of travel time and 1 hour of stopping to refill the radiator, we’d get back into Alice at around midday. On the second stop to water the Troopy, Dave had the idea to include some anti leak stuff. As we drove, we passed the 20km mark, 30km mark, and we started to question the temperature gauge, which was not rising. We had to stop to investigate and found that we weren’t losing water. The anti leak stuff miraculously plugged the hole and we ended up getting to Alice Springs at 10:44am.
There was a mad rush to get everything sorted. We stopped at Repco first to spend $500 on a new radiator, coolant and a few other bits before revisiting our Helpx host to install the new radiator. We had it all sorted by 1pm and after showers, grocery shopping and a petrol stop, we were on our way down the Stuart Highway by 3pm to meet our friends at Yulara that evening.
As we were travelling, Dave saw water on the windscreen and dismissed it as rain, but after the temperature gauge slithered into the red, he checked under the bonnet and a hose had slipped off the shiny new radiator pipe. After refilling the radiator (again!), we continued on before another shocking spray of water over the windscreen. We had to stop and find another clamp for the hose.
Thankfully, a car stopped and its passengers offered to help. Dave didn’t have a clamp that would fit around the hose so while Juz chatted to the lady and her baby Flynn, Dave and Mohawk man (these are the names we gave them as formal introductions were omitted) prepared a clamp.
Despite all this fuss, as we continued down the Stuart Highway, the Troopy was still overheating. We stopped at a rest area north of Stuart Well and asked the fellow travellers for some advice. They all said the same thing – “your thermostat is buggered”.
Thanks to 4x4World.com.au, we had a spare, but with sun going down fast, we decided to stay the night and change the part in the morning. This didn’t irk us at all as we got to have a lovely evening by the fire with fellow travellers Jules, Loretta, Chris and Brian. Our mates will still be at Yulara the next day.
Dave had his head deep under the bonnet by sunrise. We thought it’d be a quick job but the thermostat happens to be behind the lower hose, not the upper hose as initially suspected. Because of this, the alternator had to be moved out of the way before the thermostat could be changed.
It was all done by just before 11am and as we rampaged towards Yulara, we were completely baffled. During our periodical, paranoid glances at the temperature gauge, we found that it would rise when travelling uphill or at high speeds, but it would cool down at lower speeds and when we were moving downhill…
After visiting Uluru, Kata Tjuta and Kings Canyon, we decided to head back to Alice to get the Troopy issues sorted before we went any further into the desert.
This aboriginal community was originally established by Lutheran missionaries from the Hermannsburg mission in Germany in 1877. Twenty years later, the missionaries left but the settlement was maintained by local workers. In 1894, a pastor came to the settlement and learnt the local Arrernte language, and translated the bible for them. The mission was eventually handed over to the traditional owners in 1982, and the Hermannsburg Historic Precinct was added to the Australian National Heritage List in 2006.
Within the Historic Precinct is the Kata Anga Tearooms. They do a lovely apple strudel served with cream, as well as scones and damper. While the amount of damper provided was inadequate, the strudel was fabulous.
Hermannsburg provides an oasis of reception for Telstra customers, as well as two general stores and a petrol station. It is also the home of artist Albert Namatjira, who was born at the mission in 1902. He saw much of Central Australia working as a camel driver and reflected his love of the land in art.
After two Victorian artists held an art exhibition at the mission in 1934, he became interested in western style painting and was taught how to paint with watercolours by Rex Battarbee. By 1938, he held his first exhibition in Melbourne, followed by sell out Sydney and Adelaide exhibitions. From then on, his artwork continued to sell quickly, earning him the Queen’s Coronation Medal in 1953.