Nearly 12 months ago on a West Australian road, a grey nomad couple was involved in a terrifying accident that left their dream lifestyle in tatters.
Barry and Jennifer C (69 & 62) were both injured in the four-vehicle collision just south of Kojonup, between Albany and Boyanup, but – given the severity of the crash –were lucky to escape with their lives.
The couple was towing their caravan when a man – later found to have been under the influence of drugs – crossed a double white line to overtake them on a hill … with devastating consequences.
“He missed the first car coming towards us but then hit the second car full on which put his car directly in front of us so we T-boned him – he hit a tree head on and we had then veered off into trees and bush,” recalls Jennie. “Thank God my husband is very experienced at driving as we had a big van. He managed to miss a few trees but ended up hitting one straight on so that was the end of both our car and caravan.”
Sadly, the image of a smashed caravan lying scattered across the Australian landscape is one that is becoming all too familiar. But, behind every newspaper photograph and every stark police accident report, is a very human story of heartbreak … and sometimes of hope.
Barry and Jennie had been travelling for about two years before the accident happened. Having sold their family home, they were having a house built in Albany with an easy-care garden that would have enabled them to come and go as they pleased.
Rather than living the dream though, the couple has instead spent the past 12 months battling both the physical and mental scars of the ordeal.
“We were in hospital for two days afterwards and were very traumatised by it all,” says Jennie. “Barry has had a shoulder operation and is still seeing physio as he can’t raise his arm above his head yet, and I’m also seeing a physio and hopefully won’t have to have an op as it’s a torn rotator cuff which should mend itself in time.”
But, rather than letting the accident end their grey nomad journey forever, the couple has decided it will instead mark a new beginning. They have recently ordered a new camper trailer and hope to take delivery by December when the open road will beckon once more.
“Hopefully our first trip will be in the New Year,” said Jennie. “Just short trips locally to test it out and then probably South Australia as we didn’t get to do the Yorke Peninsula last time we were there … no idea how long we will be away – the longer the better I reckon!”
And what is it that’s drawing the couple back?
“We loved the easy, laid-back lifestyle and meeting all the people out there who all have interesting stories to tell,” Jennie says. “I really miss it!”