I had been working as a Dive Master on the Great Barrier Reef (GBR), North Eastern Coast of Australia, based in the town of Port Douglas. Despite the huge amount of damage that the GBR has received in recent years (I recommend watching the brilliant Netflix documentary Chasing Coral which highlights this), the sheer size and number of different species of fish made it an awesome place to dive and probably the best 'office' I will ever have.
During my time working on the GBR, fellow divers always spoke of this great dive site called the SS Yongala, widely regarded as one of the top 10 dive sites in the world
. It is a ship wreck situated off the coast of Townsville, approximately a 9 hour drive south of Port Douglas, and is home to huge schools of fish, sharks and manta rays!
Therefore, when the time came to leave Port Douglas, my girlfriend and I had diving the SS Yongala as our top priority.
We decided to drive a campervan from Cairns to Brisbane (Townsville is roughly 8hrs south of Cairns) which would enable us to dive the Yongala on route. Amazingly (or at least so we thought), we found a company called Immova which rents out campervans remarkably cheap, on the condition that you relocate them to a specific city within a particular time frame. By chance, it just so happened that there was a campervan that needed to be relocated from Cairns to Brisbane at a meagre price of $1 a day!
But as the saying goes, if something seems too good to be true, it generally is…
The biggest issue was that you had no choice in the vehicle you were relocating. I am sure many people have relocated great campervans, but we were most certainly not allocated such a vehicle.
Lady Douglas, as she was swiftly affectionately nicknamed, was a massive 3 double bed campervan, complete with kitchen, tables, hobs and a fridge. Naively excited for our portable home for the next few days (look how happy we look!), my girlfriend and I were unable to notice how old and ‘tired’ so many aspects of the campervan was.
An hour into the journey I was driving on a road in the middle of dense rainforest when the heavens started to open, and a serious of faults emerged from Lady Douglas. It quickly became apparent that this old campervan was being relocated for some serious and much needed refurbishment!
Firstly, water started to stream through the top window onto my arm and the steering wheel, so much so that we were using towels to soak up the water on the floor. Then, the left-hand wind screen wiper stopped, limiting my vision to only the right side of the screen. Distracted and with restricted visibility, Lady Douglas, unbeknown to me, was now quickly approaching a sharp left bend…
Suddenly Lady Douglas was Skiing (the automotive driving stunt where the car is balanced only on two wheels) for what felt like an eternity.
At this point in time, everything moved in slow motion, as the left side of the campervan raised further and further off the ground and then BANG.
Lady Douglas was sliding on her right side before coming to a halt on the other side of the road. With the radio making a cliched eerie high-pitched sound and the windscreen shattered, I looked up at my girlfriend who was suspended in the air by her seatbelt. We very quickly clambered out of the left side car door that was now pointing to the sky.
Fortunately, and most importantly, we were largely unhurt, and once the seriousness of rolling the campervan in the middle of nowhere dawned on me, I reached for my phone in my pocket. Unbelievably, it was dead. My girlfriends’ phone was in the main body of the campervan, so there was no hope of finding that either! We were in the middle of nowhere, in a foreign country with a rolled campervan, understandably shaken up, and my phone was dead.
On the bright side, it had stopped raining…
Fortunately, my day backpack, with the Savvy Travel pack attached, was in the cockpit of the campervan and so was just about easy enough to grab.
My girlfriend and I then had a very surreal moment; sitting on the side of the road, waiting for my phone to charge, staring at our crashed campervan on its side, grateful for the Savvy Travel Pack and the power bank inside it. Once the phone had charged, I called Australian Emergency Services, (the Savvy Travel Pack also has a list of the emergency services numbers for every country in the world - who knew Australia’s emergency service telephone number is 000?!) followed by the campervan rental company and insurance provider.
20 minutes later the Police, Ambulance and Fire Brigade services all arrived. Shortly after, Lady Douglas was taken away, and with her went the dream of diving the SS Yongala…
Without a power bank I am really not sure what we would have done as we really were in the middle of nowhere. Perhaps walk a few miles to try and find another car and get help? Wait till another car shows up? In summary, not having a power bank really would have made a dire situation even worse and more complicated. It really made me realise the importance in the modern world of always travelling with access to a minimum level of ‘back-up’ power.
Although this exact experience is rare for a backpacker to have, I have had many other instances in which a power bank really has saved my bacon, or even just made day-to-day backpacking that little bit easier.
It is therefore essential a Savvy Traveller has easy access to a power bank - not least to keep their travels rolling! And the Savvy Travel Pack provides that, plus 16 other essential items!