‘We had heard of so many caravan rollovers … then it happened to us!’

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Geoff and Gloria (above) were lucky to escape serious injury in the accident.

All too often, comes news of a caravan rollover on one of Australia’s highways and byways. Sometimes, there follows tales of lucky escapes, sometimes stories of injuries, and – sadly – sometimes reports of deaths.

Always, there are grey nomads up and down the country shaking their heads in horror, seeking to learn any lessons they can from the accident and hoping against hope that they are never the ones featuring in some future news report. Geoff and Gloria Hillier, both in their early 70s, used to hope the same … until one day in October 2016 their worst nightmares came true.

They were travelling in their 2012 Holden Colorado towing a nearly-new Crusader Caravan on the Toowoomba to Inglewood road in Queensland. Gloria was driving as they navigated the undulating road at 80 km/h or so.

“There was a sweeping bend and I hit a large dip in the road,” she recalls. “Three semitrailers were coming towards me and, as the caravan lifted up, the first semi seemed to suck the caravan towards it, and that was the start of an uncontrollable sway.”

Gloria desperately sought to avoid disaster.

“I tried to drive it to the left to get clear of the other two semis but it went over the embankment and we overturned,” she said. “One of the drivers helped Geoff get out of the window he had broken but I was upside down and could not undo my seatbelt so the same man leant in and undid it so I could crawl out.”

The couple were rushed to hospital by ambulance and, after scans were done on Gloria’s neck, released.

“We have owned caravans for about 30 years and this is the only accident we have had,” said Gloria. “We always drive to the conditions, do not speed, and change drivers every two hours.”

While the couple both escaped physical injury, Geoff suffered post traumatic stress and visited a psychologist in the aftermath of the accident. However, the pair were determined it wouldn’t stop them from living the dream. Within months, they had a new tug and a new caravan, to which they promptly had an electronic anti-sway kit fitted.

They have been back on the road full-time ever since … and life is very, good again. “We have been to all states but have missed lots of places and we could travel for years and not see everything,” said Gloria. “The people you meet are amazing, and we just intend to keep going until we get too old or sick to do so.”

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