What do you do when travel plans go awry?

Claudia Bouma — 26 August 2015

If there’s anything I’ve learnt over many years of extensive travelling it’s that having a can-do attitude is paramount. Of course, planning is important – if not essential - and preparation can help avoid many disasters, but some things simply can’t be foreseen.

Heading up north during the dry season is supposed to guarantee fantastic weather but experience has taught me this is not always the case. One particular year, my husband Chris and I travelled with our three kids to Kununurra in early May, hoping to venture out to the Purnululu (Bungle Bungles) National Park for a five-day adventure in this iconic wilderness.

Upon arrival in Kununurra we were surprised to find ourselves in a situation where unseasonal rain battered the entire region. As a result, the 4WD tracks into the national park were closed and it didn’t look like the rain was going to hold up any time soon. We had no choice but to make the most of a bad situation, so we enjoyed the pool and took it easy.

I visited the Kununurra Visitor Information Centre every day to get the latest updates about access to the Bungles. Finally, after five days the desired news was announced: the roads would be opened the next day. We made our final preparations, did our last bit of shopping and headed out before daybreak the next morning, excited to explore this national park which had been on our bucket list for many years.

This experience taught me one important lesson: you can’t change your circumstances but you can change your attitude. We like for life to go along smoothly and in a lot of a cases, this is fine. However, when you hit the road you never know what’s around the next corner.

Our biggest challenge happened while we were along the remote Savannah Way at Cape Crawford, 110km south of the outback town of Borroloola. We experienced serious car trouble and we weren’t sure what the problem was. A fellow camper guessed the alternator was on the way out and advised us to try and get to Borroloola as soon as possible. The next morning we managed to get the car going and made it all the way to the caravan park in Borroloola. We figured we would be stuck there for quite a while as spare parts would most likely have to be ordered. Ah well, there are worse places to be stranded.

When Chris took the car to the local mechanic he couldn’t believe his eyes: the correct alternator was sitting on the shelf! This was amazing considering we were driving a Toyota Hilux Surf at the time – an import from Japan. Moreover, the mechanic suggested Chris give him a hand installing the new alternator to save on labour costs. Two days later we jumped in the car to explore this spectacular region and we learnt a lot about country hospitality in the meantime.

I could share many more experiences with you but every story has the same moral: a positive can-do attitude will get you through anything – and with a smile on your face.


travel Kununurra preparation Purnululu National Park Bungle Bungles


Claudia Bouma