Jared and I woke to a frantic knock on the bedroom door at 6:30am the morning after Melbourne Cup.
“Your trailer’s gone.”
Stunned, we roused ourselves. I had heard what his cousin said, but I didn’t believe it until I went outside. There was the car, parked right in front of the house, but behind it—nothing. An empty space where the trailer had been.
“I can’t believe this happened in Millthorpe,” Jared said. “It was on the street in Brisbane for a month with a bicycle lock through the wheel and it got stolen in Millthorpe?”
Millthorpe is a heritage village 20 minutes from Orange in central NSW, and it’s tiny. Like, population of just over 1,000 tiny. His cousins’ house is at the end of a quiet cul-de-sac where doors are regularly left unlocked; we’d left the trailer attached to the car and not thought much of it.
I know, I know—theft can happen anywhere, but that doesn’t make it any less shocking when it does.
We rang the police, who were equally shocked (“In Millthorpe?”). We made lists of what was inside the trailer, becoming more despondent with each realization.
Jared’s backpack of clothes was gone, leaving him with only what he had been wearing the night before. Four pairs of running shoes were in there, along with tent pegs, ropes, bedding, tarps, chairs, tables – the list goes on. Mostly secondhand camping gear, but it was our stuff. Replacing it was going to be a pain in the ass, not to mention the bank account.
We changed our plans and re-routed to Newcastle to take refuge at Jared’s parents house and replenish his clothing stores. Fortunately we didn’t need to be anywhere until the 21st of November, when we fly from Melbourne to Tasmania, so we had some time to figure out our next move.
Jared posted about the theft on Facebook, just in case somebody knew something that could help us get the trailer back. It was shared an astonishing 813 times, and we received messages from complete strangers with offers of help.
To everyone who reached out to us, thank you. It really did make me feel better each time someone chimed in to say that the thief was a low life scumbag! We didn’t expect that we’d ever see the trailer again, much less the items inside. Though it had been reported stolen, it wasn’t like the police were actively looking for it.
But the next morning at seven, I got a phone call from the Goulburn police station. Goulburn is roughly two and a half hours south of Millthorpe.
“Your trailer’s been located,” the officer said. “Unfortunately it has sustained some severe fire damage and, well, it’s not really in a condition to be towed. Basically, it’s a write-off. Do you have insurance on the trailer?”
He explained that it had been involved in a motor vehicle accident; the thief had it hitched to a stolen car, which he crashed, set on fire, and abandoned. The towball had been ripped off, the tent was destroyed, and the wheel axle was bent.
This morning Jared and his dad made the four-hour drive to Goulburn to see what could be salvaged from the trailer. The cops told us that there was still stuff inside in reasonable condition, so we were optimistic.
He called me just before lunchtime to say that they were on the way back.
“Well, they took my clothes, your wellies, and my work boots, but everything else was there. Smells like fire, but we’ve got it.”
“Wait. They took your clothes?”
They left his backpack, but took out the clothes. I’m still gobsmacked. Jared’s fashion is so distinct I’m legitimately hopeful that one day someone will spot this douchebag kicking around in his stolen clothes.
So, what now?
The trip is not over, not by a long shot. Although I’m still catching up on the blog, we’ve covered a lot of ground. In five months we’ve traveled from Newcastle to the Daintree and (unexpectedly) back down to Newcastle.
Next up is the NSW south coast, a snippet of Victoria, and two weeks in Tasmania before hitting South Australia in time for the holidays.
We’re scouring Gumtree to find a camper trailer that will suit our needs and budget, and hope to be back on the road by the middle of next week. We’ll probably be purchasing some serious wheel locks too.
A setback, yes. A learning experience, yes. But the end of the trip? Absolutely not.