Watching his home on wheels roll into the Peel River wasn’t the way Chris Gaunt had planned on starting his sixth visit to the Tamworth Country Music Festival.
The outback trucker based in Dorrigo had just pulled into the campsite near the Jewry St bridge and was manoeuvring his Landrover off a trailer attached to his semi-trailer. He wasn’t in it when the handbrake gave way, causing the car to jump a gear and bounce off the trailer.
“I just watched as it sailed off into the water”, Mr Gaunt said.
The already battered Landcruiser rolled down a grassy slope and then a steep embankment before coming to rest upside down in the Peel River.
“I thought I had parked it up hill,” he said wryly. “Now see it wasn’t.”
A crowd gathered on the Jewry St bridge to watch as a towtruck pulled the four-wheel drive from the water.
Mr Gaunt praised the tow-truck operators who “were fabulous”.
“They got it out with a miniumum of extra damage,” he said.
The Tamworth Fire Brigade were called to the scene at 7.18pm on Tuesday and gave the all clear after finding nobody was trapped in the car.
A boat was brought in to place a boom on the river to deal with a small oil slick from the Landrover.
Station Officer Shane Austin said the boom, which absorbs hydro carbons from the fuel, would be left in place for about 24 hours.
“It could have been a lot worse,” Mr Austin said. “It held about 180 litres of fuel and less than 5 litres leaked.”
The Landrover, which acts as Mr Gaunt’s home on his long trips working on cattle trucks in outback areas including Mungindi and Cloncurry, was packed with his gear for the festival and beyond.
The fridge in the back was still going strong after the dunking. Not so the food inside, pies and lasagne he’d cooked for the family group that was joining him.
“She’ll go again, I’ll straighten it out. Maybe it will be a pig shooting van.”- Chris Gaunt
Last night he was looking forward to having a beer at Joe McGuire’s, listening to the Pigs … and waiting for ribbing from his mates about the mishap.
It’s not the first time the Landrover has seen action.
“It’s been ditched, I rolled it at Mungindi … it’s about the fourth big blow it’s had,” Mr Gaunt said.
Broken windows, a twisted body and bits of river debris have now been added to the bingle history.
It’s not the end of the road for his trusty home, however.
“She’ll go again," he said. “I’ll straighten it out. Maybe it will be a pig shooting van.”
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