We Nearly Didn’t Make It Out Of Brisbane

In our last story I talked of our upcoming departure from Brisbane with an air of sentimentality. I reminisced about the early days of our van life adventure and spoke of the things we looked forward to in life returning to the road.

Though as it seems, I may have been holding onto those notions a little too firmly, for not 20 minutes after leaving we struck a problem.

That morning we said goodbye to our wonderful housemates and started our final clean. We moved the last of our things to the van and organised them into the cupboards. We transferred the contents of the fridge to our van fridge and I filled up the water tanks.

We knew it would be an exhausting day so we set our departure for 3pm and our destination to our friend’s property only an hour and a half away at Pine Mountain.

With a pile of I-don’t-know-where-this-goes-yet thrown on the floor, we settled Willow in the back and Steph and I buckled up. With two years of hard work leading up to this point of setting off in our new van Steph and I looked at each other and relished the moment.

Nothing could stop us now!

However, as we stopped by our friend’s place to drop some stuff off as we left the city, the sound when we opened the doors was unmistakable along with my wallet weeping.


Steph looked down and realised what happened. I had hit the cracked curb with the front tyre as I parked up and had slashed the sidewall – and in the process slashing our hopes of a smooth exit from Brisbane!

This is all part of the adventure, I told myself as I put the hydraulic jack in place and started loosening the wheel nuts. I lifted the van up and removed the damaged tyre.

Being the first time I had changed a tyre on our new van I just want to say right here and now that I DID read the owners manual. However, it seems a quick skim read did not prove prudent enough, for as I lined up the spare wheel I realised that the jack would not extend any higher to get the new, rather taller and fully inflated wheel on the axle.

As I turned the page of the manual I saw that the jack needed to be extended first by rotating the centre spindle anti-clockwise.

Simple. Put the punctured tyre back on, lower the vehicle, extend the jack, raise the vehicle, remove punctured tyre, put new tyre on, success.

However, I reached for the damaged tyre and realised the air had been sucked back into it! This meant that it was now sitting too high to align with the axle!

Without any blocks or similar nearby to lower the van down onto to remove the jack we made the decision to call roadside assist.

It was now late in the afternoon and we had some shade from the 32c heat. We brought Willow out to assess the situation. She didn’t seem phased about it all so we took her lead and decided not to worry ourselves either.

Our assistance arrived 40 minutes later and jacked the vehicle up high enough. I removed our jack and we put on the new wheel.

Now, you might ask yourself how helpful a cat could be during a quandary like this. Well, she may not have helped loosen the wheel nuts, or convince me to thoroughly read the manual, but her assistance as an emotional support cat was second to none!

We were back on the road and arrived in Pine Mountain in the early evening – the very first night of our new adventure.

* * *

They say when you don’t have a schedule you can’t be late right? With no reservations or bookings to worry about van life gives you a lot of flexibility when things go wrong.

The next day we organised a replacement tyre ready for us to pick up down the coast.

Thanks for reading!

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Van Cat Meow

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