And his name is Hercules … but first let me explain Stacy and I came to be proud owners of a 1995 4WD Jeep Cherokee!
When our plane to Darwin landed at 1:00 in the morning, Stacy and I wondered where we would sleep? It seemed silly to spend money on a hostel for only a few hours so we decided to crash at the airport. Feeling lucky to have scored couches, to the envy of backpackers sleeping on the ground, we were able to catch a few hours of sleep.
Ludovic, a French guy neither of us had ever met, picked us up at 7 am as planned, in the Jeep we were considering buying for our road trip. Stacy had spoke to Ludovic on the phone after seeing his ad online for a 4WD Jeep for sale. The Jeep came with lots of extras: 2 mountain bikes, camping equipment (2 person mattress, tent, chairs, gas cooker, cooler, dishes, pots, lantern), 2 snorkeling kits, 2 fishing rods, a 20L fuel jerican, and a WA National Park Pass. On paper the Jeep package seemed to be exactly what we were looking for and more, but we decided to take it to a mechanic to have it inspected before we agreed to buy the vehicle.
Ludovic drove us straight to Paul’s Service Center, an auto repair shop Stacy’s friend had recommended. While we waited for the inspection to be completed he excitedly told us about his recent road trip from Perth to Darwin (the same trip but opposite direction we are going). Sharing a passion for adventure travel we enjoyed hearing each others travel experiences and got along quite easily for strangers. Ludovic speaks English well but says I speak way too fast! I knew straight away that we could trust Ludovic and was relieved that things seemed to be working out so well for us. Ludovic is traveling for a year (if you know French read about his journeys) and will soon be leaving Australia for his next destination – New Caledonia.
We had researched the options available for exploring Western Australia and quickly realized that buying a car and selling at the end of the trip would be the most economical plan. Tours through WA were very expensive, the cheapest we found would cost us each $1600 from Darwin to Broome or $3600 from Darwin to Perth. Renting a 4WD automatic vehicle would cost us $150 a day plus a $700 to return the car in a different city – making it more expensive to rent a vehicle versus buying. Hercules would cost us $4200 AUD and we figure even if we sold the car for half of what we paid for it we will come out much better financially in the end (so long as we don’t crash the car!).
Paul, the nicest mechanic I have ever met, went through the details of the inspection, sharing with us the good news that the Jeep was in great condition with no major issues to consider. His paternal instincts came out as he asked us if we have a spare tire, jumper cables, etc. and suggested that we buy a road side assistance plan (which we had already planned to do).
So Stacy and I agreed to buy Hercules!!! We believe we got a good deal purchasing for $4200 AUD and all the extras included will allow us to hit the road with virtually all we need for our big adventure!
Ludovic shared with us all the ins and outs we need to know about Hercules – such as jiggling the auto door lock twice to unlock the back right door, and demonstrating the appropriate level of force needed to secure the spare tire when closing the hatchback.
He gave us much needed 4WD tips including showing us how to use the air compressor to adjust the tire pressure levels for highway, unsealed roads, and sand. When filling up the tank he showed us how he slowly adds an extra 10 liters of petrol after the pump says the tank is full. Petrol stations are scarce in the remote areas throughout the Kimberley region and WA as are other vehicles to offer assistance if we were to run out of gas.
He showed us his system for converting the back into a bed by strategically rearranging all the gear and removing the back seat allowing room for the mattress. We will have the option of sleeping in the tent, inside the car, or outside on the mattress with nothing but the stars above us.
We took a look under the hood as Ludovic thought it was imperative that us girls know where all the important bits and pieces are located. He even drew us a very detailed map in case we forget. I have never bought a used car before but I somehow think this particular car buying experience is outside the norm. Ludovic went above and beyond the call of duty for a car seller. It seems that he has developed a close connection to Hercules and wants to make sure the car is left in good hands. It is obvious to us that he sincerely hopes our travels with Hercules are unforgettable, safe, and fun.
We can’t help but wonder if perhaps Ludovic is the first of the many guardian angels that Stacy’s mom says will be with us on our journey?
To see more pics of Hercules CLICK HERE.