‘As windscreen chips go, this one was a real doozie’

Published: August 19, 2021
Grey nomads pick up windscreen chip

It’s a tale as old as the grey nomad lifestyle, but flying stones and broken windscreens can still come as a nasty surprise to caravanners and motorhomers cruising the highways and byways.

It certainly gave veteran travellers, Judy and Tony Sumner, a bit of a start when they collected this ‘doozie’ in Outback Queensland recently.

The couple were about 30 kilometres or so north of Thargomindah heading down from Quilpie on a narrow but good bitumen road when drama struck. Tony said there were only a few other motorists on the road when they got their unlucky break.

“When we had an approaching vehicle we would slow down, drop off the bitumen and, as they say, ‘proceed with caution’,” said Tony. “But, on this occasion although the oncoming vehicle – just an ordinary work vehicle with an ordinary trailer – had also dropped off the bitumen and he managed to find a rock the size of a golf ball and launch it in our direction, resulting in a ‘stone chip’ of mammoth proportions.”

As on-the-road hiccups go this one certainly wasn’t a game changer but it did give the pair a bit of a fright … and an extra job to do.

The windscreen was replaced about a week later in Cunnamulla by the local RACQ workshop and they kept the car overnight to ensure the ’screen was sealed properly.

Tony and Judy have been taking trips in their 1999 19’ Bushtracker and 2005 LandCruiser 100 series for the past 17 years. They’ve been around Australia three times, tackling everything from the Gibb River Road and the Plenty Highway, to the Darling River Run and Cape York via the CREB Track, so chipped windscreens are nothing new to them.

Having just arrived home after a three-month journey around Queensland, they remain philosophical.

“It was a trip full of surprises,” said Tony. “But sometimes there’s just a hiccup along the way.”

  • Have you ‘copped’ a flying stone or two on your trips? Comment below.
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Debbie
5 months ago

Last trip we had we got 7 stone chips on our windscreen and they were all from cars towing trailers that don’t bother slowing down at all. I was cringing every time we had a trailer coming the opposite way waiting for a stone to hit us by the end of our trip.

Pat in the Top End.
5 months ago

Camper trailers coming flat out towards you are the worst..!

Neil Davies
4 months ago

Yes totally agree and when there’s 1 lane tar please keep 1 side on

Rob Jones
5 months ago

I grew up in the North Eastern wheatbelt of W A in the day when most of the roads out there were 10ft wide. You had to get over. 2 wheels in the gravel. We were taught to not come straight back onto the bitumen. Wait until all the rocks from the other vehicle had dropped, probably 100 metres or so. Depending on the speed they were going. Back then there wasn’t a blanket speed limit of 65 m/h. Flat out was 100mph.

Sarbi
5 months ago

9 years of traveling we had 4 window replacements, the last one we could not see or hear a stone hitting our screen, so that one remains supp-rise for us

Harry
5 months ago
Reply to  Sarbi

I was advised as a young bloke in Qld, that when travelling on narrow bitumen roads, etiquette was for one car to stay on the bitumen & the other off. Russian roulette, or “whose needs are being met”?
I notice, this practice applies with many in the country still. Any comments about this practice? (meantime, we all chip away!)

N. Anderson
5 months ago
Reply to  Harry

Bad idea to stay on the narrow bitumen strip as you are the vehicle that gets stones thrown up at you by the vehicle not on the bitumen. Much better if both vehicles are as far apart as possible

John Quinlan
4 months ago
Reply to  Harry

On a recent trip to Qld & NT our practice on narrow roads was to get right off and STOP. It was amazing how many other motorists either didn’t slow down or chose not to accept our offer of the courtesy of the road. They insisted on getting half off and showering us with stones. Where is the common sense?

Shelley & Bill VAGG
4 months ago
Reply to  Harry

Been home now about a month after three and a half months towing our caravan all around Australia. Travelled on various development roads where tar is only one vehicle in width. We were happy to be the one who went completely off the tar as we were trying to protect our ute and van from stones. Most vehicles slowed down and stayed on the tar. Really annoying when some oncoming vehicles were half on and half off the tar

J
5 months ago

Travelling south from Boulia to Birdsville in June we had our windscreen cracked by cars speeding and half off the bitumen in the opposite direction. Not only is it a hazard to us but they could easily cause a crash. Please slow down when oncoming traffic approaches.

Tony Lee
4 months ago

Trick is to slow right down so that your own speed is not causing more than half the problem.

I tend to never replace windscreens unless it is absolutely necessary. No point in tempting fate driving the outback with a nice uncracked screen

John Waugh
4 months ago

We recently did a lap and went through TWO windscreens. Perth to Brisbane across The Nullarbor: 3 chips and then a rock from a road-train in SA. The roads in SA seem to be too narrow for road trains as that last trailer is always in the gravel on the corners. Added to that the main roads in SA seem to be one long stretch of roadworks, over 80kms for one of them! Had the windscreen replaced in Brisbane under insurance. All good until we headed west towards Karumba. Oncoming 4WD swerved to avoid roadkill and we had a stone chip. Savannah Way with single lane bitumen, as somebody else has mentioned, 4WD’s with camper trailers just do not slow down. Returning to WA we breathed a sigh go relief as the roads were generally wider and better surfaced, but yeah we still got a few chips from oncoming vehicles not slowing down on newly resurface patches. Eventually one stone chip developed into a 500mm crack thanks to the appalling potholes between New Norcia and Muchea after the recent torrential rain. Interesting that the second windscreen was much cheaper than the one claimed on insurance.

Vonjean
4 months ago

Problems when both cars get off the sealed road, so stones are thrown at your screen anyway. I started to indicate left so other car knows what I am doing this seemed to have helped a lot.

Trevor
4 months ago

On our trip from Adelaide to Lake Argyle in July we were 50kms north of Pt Augusta when a semi passed and flicked up a stone and put a small chip in the windscreen. Over the next few days it proceeded to crack till it went the full length of the windscreen. Not a good start to our holiday but ship happens.

Cupie
4 months ago

I’ve done a few windscreens over the years, but here are a couple of the most unusual ones –
Just outside of Camooweal I was on a deviation through a dry creek bed and saw a semi trailer approaching, so I pulled to the side & stopped. He had to put on a bit of power to pull the laden rig out of the creek bed but in doing so threw up a shower of cricket ball sized gibbers. One came crashing down on the windscreen & of course made a sizeable spider web that gradually grew over the next few weeks.

The second unusual one was completely self inflicted. I have been loading my Kayaks over the bullbar onto the roof of my GQ Partol for years without incident. After a paddle down the Thompson I was loading it but at the critical point I slipped on the mud & the stern crashed into the top edge of the windscreen. Yet another gradually growing crack. Buggar!

Ann Bekker
4 months ago

On driving down the Diamantina Development Road recently in our truck 90% of vehicles smaller than us have pulled off the one lane bitumen and come to a near stop. This means we can stay on and no one flicks stones much better than 2 vehicles pulling half off and both sending out gravel.

Ian Ross
4 months ago

Here is a great tip I learnt after I received a window crack from a flying stone. Clean the crack and area as best you can and then spay with women’s hair spray. Clean and reapply each day. We received the crack on a Friday, applied the tip and maked the edge of the crack with a texta pen. On Sunday we travelled on 175km of ordinary gravel and the crack never extended. Had the windscreen replaced in Karratha on the Tuesday. I now always carry a can of hair spray in mt kit.

Steve
4 months ago

I remember when my father moved to the bush when he was in his sixties and he installed a wire mesh screen to stop stone chips. From memory the wire was about 10 to 15mm squares. He did a lot of kms with dents on the wire but no damage to windscreen. Are these still used?

Jack Watson
4 months ago
Reply to  Steve

G’day Steve, I haven’t seen one for years. They were fairly common when I was growing up in the 60s and 70s. A bit “daggy” but I reckon I would still use one on certain trips.

Craig
4 months ago
Reply to  Steve

Hi Steve, I often wonder why the stone shields went out of vogue. They were the simplest, yet most effective way of protecting a windscreen.

Craig
4 months ago

Depending on the size oncoming rig, I will pull over and stop. I would rather a larger combo stayed on the tar. I find big 4wds with every conceivable option weighing them down, and towing a camper are often the most discourteous. If you are in that much of a hurry, stick to the highways, and leave the byways to those who are not in a race.

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