Outback Australia … Bush Mechanic Tips!

For many travellers, the preferred mode of transport is courtesy of that modern beast of burden — the car. And for the majority of us, keeping our cars purring along is simply a matter of dropping the vehicle off at the local garage while we grab a coffee. But what

For many travellers, the preferred mode of transport is courtesy of that modern beast of burden — the car. And for the majority of us, keeping our cars purring along is simply a matter of dropping the vehicle off at the local garage while we grab a coffee. But what happens if you’re in the Outback of Australia? Miles from the nearest garage?

Well, if you’re a Bush Mechanic, you simply take a look around you.

A Bush Mechanic, according to the official website, “is a person who fixes his own car by using wood and anything that he can find to replace the certain part that is broken. He can get himself out of trouble and drive to the nearest place to find the right parts for his car.”

The Bush Mechanics are members of the Jupururrla skin group and they call themselves the Jupururrla Gang. Let Kumanjayi (Tom) Kantor and Francis Jupurulla Kelly illustrate how they fix their cars in the Outback…

Desert people have utilised many fascinating adaptions over the last seventy years to keep their cars (vital for survival in the harsh conditions) in some sort of working order. With minimum distances of over 100 kms to be travelled between different communities, cars are a necessity, not a luxury.

As an example of the ingenuity shown by the bush mechanics, the Boys were on a trip to Broome (on the north-west coast of Western Australia, when their radiator developed a leak …

Undaunted, they scoured the surrounding countryside for an abandoned car (there always seem to be plenty of these around … and you’ll understand why when you see how cars are driven here).

Removing the battery from the aforementioned wreck, they pulled it apart and removed the lead. It didn’t take long to gather some wood, light a fire, locate a spare hubcap, add the lead and melt it over the fire. This was then poured into the radiator, allowed to harden and Hey Presto! No more leaky radiator!

Got a station wagon but need a convertible?

No problem … all you need is an axe and determination! Want a trailer to tow your extra gear? Just attach the decapitated roof to the back of the new convertible and you have a great sled, ideal for towing!

So, if you ever get stuck in remote places — in any country — here are a few mechanical tips to get you moving again:

Flat tyre?

No sweat. Take the inner tube out of the spare, look around the bush for some spinifex grass, gather the grass into a pile and then stuff the grass into the tire.

No jack?

Hardly a challenge. Just dig some space under the wheel for more room in which to work, and you’ll eventually get the tyre on.
NB If you don’t have spinifex in your part of the world – any dried grass that has a bit of body will suffice!

Brakes not working?

Got some detergent, an old tin can and some water?

Problem solved! Mix the water and detergent and use to replace the brake fluid. Sure enough, when tested out, the brakes work better!

Clutch pads worn?

If you’re at all handy with a knife, you can whittle a set out of any old mulga (or other wood) lying around.

While these tips will certainly help out in an emergency … I wouldn’t try this at home, boys and girls!

J M Stewart is a freelance writer and editor. Sign up for free, weekly writing tips that have been delivered every Friday since 1998: mailto:WritingTips-subscribe @yahoogroups.com J M Stewart’s travel site http://www.traveltoaustralia.write101.com provides intending travellers with all they need to know to visit, live and work in Australia. Drop by now to see if you’re eligible for an Australian work visa!

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