Barrier stops grey nomads from plunging down ravine

Published: October 7, 2021

Details have emerged of the incredibly lucky escape that two grey nomads had when their caravan rolled in north Queensland earlier this week.

The elderly pair were towing a 21’ van on the Bruce Highway just south of the Cardwell Range Lookout on Monday morning when it went over.

Their ute and van then careered into the north-bound lane, coming to rest against a guard rail that prevented it from plummeting down a steep ravine.

The Townsville Bulletin reports that, in another piece of good luck, an off-duty doctor and a nurse were on hand, and were able to provide prompt medical assistance.

Grey nomads saved by guard rail

Senior Sergeant Geoff Bormann said no other vehicles or persons were involved in the incident, and investigations are continuing as to the cause of the crash.

“Both persons were evacuated from their vehicle with the assistance of other road users, and an off-duty nurse and doctor who were travelling past the incident stopped to render aid to both persons,” he told the Townsville Bulletin. “Emergency services arrived shortly after, and the woman was transported to the Ingham Hospital with minor injuries with her husband suffering only several scratches and bruises.”

The highway was reduced to single-lane traffic while the scene was cleared of debris, and the vehicle and caravan were towed from the scene.

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3 months ago

How unfortunate that another accident has happened but so fortunate that this couple have been saved by the guard rail and that they only physically suffered minor injuries. However I can imagine that the mental trauma of the accident will stay with them for quite some time. Wishing them a speedy recovery and hope they can enjoy travelling again in the future.

3 months ago

Good to hear both are ok.

3 months ago

I’m pleased that they are both ok. I also wonder what you class as elderly?

3 months ago

Common theme in a lot of caravan crashes here seems to be the elderly

3 months ago
Reply to  Tony

Elderly… young …middle age…
Every age group crashes. Statisticallly young are at most risk though usually not towing anything

Richard Jones
3 months ago
Reply to  Tony

More common is tow tug is a UTE !
Maybe the tail wagging the dog ?

Pat from the Top End.
3 months ago

Glad the elderly people are not physically hurt.
I looked up Elderly…!
People 65 – 75 are defined as the “early elderly”..
People over 75 are defined as the “late elderly”.
I dont mind and it doesn’t matter that much…but I prefer the term… an Elder or a Senior. Cheers.

Kaye Bindokas
3 months ago

I would much prefer to be called an Elder. Such a respectful word.

Shannon Anderson
3 months ago

Hey there! I’m almost 71 years. I’m a young elderly.

Andrew O'Brien
3 months ago

Although these crashes are well reported at the time we never hear the reason behind the crash. We are offered lots of opinions some of which are quite rude and demeaning but never get an official version of events. Other caravan owners never get information that could help them avoid getting into a similar situation.

John Dermody
3 months ago
Reply to  Andrew O'Brien

Agree, Andrew. The only “factual” information I ever seem to come across is by Clayton’s Towing. They seem to nail it with great explanations from a technical but mainly empirical view through the hundreds of accidents they attend. It is not much good just showing photos and Police reports without follow up as to “why” if we are expected to improve our driving habits.

Steve Ghost
3 months ago

The problem is that it is not possible to get any statistical information regarding caravan incidents. There seems to be a lot of them, and they appear to be as a consequence of swaying getting out of control.
Unless the authorities publicise crash statistics such as whether the van was overloaded, properly loaded, anti sway fitted or not, and so on people will come to their own conclusions and more importantly not modify their own behaviour to be more safe.

Paul Keating
3 months ago
Reply to  Steve Ghost

There only seems to be a lot of crashes if you are on caravan/camping social media I reality for the number of vans on the road the percentage is low.

cp-admin (@cp-admin)
2 months ago


3 months ago

Good comments from Steve and Andrew. We should never give up learning in life. The best way is through the experiences of others.Sometimes it has to be the hard way through our own mistakes. Any balanced information on accidents should be made available to all.

Neil Death
3 months ago

Agree with both Andrew O’Brien and Steve Ghost, there is never and further information on these crashes, causes etc. It’s time that the grey nomads group to find out the reasons for some of these crashes and report back to members, either via this email or the other fortnightly emails.

Joann Chaplin
3 months ago

Thank heavens they are both safe and well. Human nature is to jump to conclusions and form an opinion even though we were not there. My experience is proof in the pudding. Look at the comments on the JB gator X on the carnage in the Kimberley’s… All the comments were pointed at how we drove to fast or other armchair expert opions. My driving miss daisy husband was and will not ever go that fast, however, is well under 60yrs old. You can always drive perfectly to the conditions with many years of experience, but, sometimes a Mn made machine has a fault. Like a trailing bolt snapping. Or someone having a stroke who is only 40yrs old while driving. We never know the full story unless we were there. Just remember, it can happen to any of us… Even the titanic sank…

3 months ago

Elderly means age, not ability, experience comes with age, but that’s not the problem, Just TAKE A CLOSE OBJECTIVE LOOK at the caravan involved or any other rollovers, they all have one thing in common and that is a serious design fault built in for that misleading go any where look with higher ground clearances on huge wide soft walled tires totally unsuitable for trailers let alone multi axel caravans.
In the 70’s to 80’s when highways were little more than goat tracks with most out back highways being dirt or rough corrigated surfaces for hundreds of miles you prayed for dry weather for your journey caravans had standard car 14″ tires with 2″ drop axels to keep the center of gravity as low as possible, some bigger caravans had full length rollers at the rear end to stop draging over drive ways , smaller vans had rollers on the ends of the rear stabiliser jacks, we had no fancy breaking systems most common was the vacuum over ride cable type for bigger vans that were as reliable as a two bod watch also there were very few if any 4×4’s towing vans. Roll overs were extremely rare.
I wouldn’t be game to take one of these newer vans over the old Mitchel highway in Queensland or the old Nullabore planes or a claypan road as they were in the 70’s, They look like they could do it but the truth of the matter is they can’t even stay up right on a bitumen highway.

Chris Thaler
3 months ago
Reply to  mysterytour

Mr./Mrs./Ms. Mysterytour ,or whoever, writes like the new phenomena of an “Angrey Nomad”.

3 months ago

There is quite a few good points there in Mystery tour. A lot of the vehicles sold today state that they can tow up to 3.5 ton. This is very true but also very misleading.A Mini Moke can probably tow a 3.5 ton van down the road.But is it able to handle a van in an emergency . Of course not. The manufacturers and sellers of these vehicles with such towing capacity, use it as a sales gimic have a lot to answer for , as do the sellers of some of these vans.As long as the papers say the vehicle can tow 3.5 , then there are no checks and balancers to say it is suitable should a situation arise, where as a larger vehicle set up correctly may handle the situation much more safely. Then there is the person behind the wheel.Do they have the experience to handle a vehicle and van . Do they know how to set up the van and vehicle .The responsibility of buying a vehicle and van and towing with safety in mind not just for themselves but for all others using the road, lies fairly and squarely with those who intend to make that purchase. I am in my 70’s and have been towing all my driving life, from tow trucks to semis to all size vans. Quite honestly a lot of the vehicle/van set up’s today scare the hell out of me. That’s without knowing the capabilities of the driver.

3 months ago
Reply to  Dave

Whilst your comments on the towing capacities of particular vehicles are relevant,can I respectfully suggest that you research how tow ratings are given? It all centres on engine power and braking capabilities.There is no consideration given to axle weight-carrying capacities,which is why the popular twin-cab utes are supposedly capable of towing 3500kg.They can’t do so if the trailer is a PIG trailer (Caravan),with about 3100kg being the absolute maximum.Not negotiable.

3 months ago
Reply to  Dave

The only true comments on this page everyone else is in denial

Pat in the Top End.
3 months ago

Mystery tour has highlighted some very valid points…!
Include the speed factor, slow reflexes also contributing to a lot of errors and accidents.

3 months ago

Hear is a further reason these rigs end up on their sides, When a van gets up a sway most modern tow vehicles have ABS breaking it is automatic and works beautifully so long as the caravan is behaving it self, but what happens when the caravan is trying to toss the back of the tow vehicle violently from side to side?
Most caravans these days have electric breaks, the setting knob is usually fitted to the dash within easy reach but mostly out of direct sight
and you have to locate it keeping your eyes on the road with a god grip on the wheel and hope you turn the the knob the right way, the old Vacuum break controllers were mounted on the steering column like the indicator lever all that was required was to slam the lever down and that cured any swaying in a split second no fumbling for a knob, and yes ABS breaks are available for caravans but I very much doubt their effectiveness if you can’t instantly put full breaking settings in to effect. Wouldn’t it be nice if you could adjust your break controller without taking your hands off the wheel or your eyes off the road, it’s not magic it’s a forgotten or ignored old school idea that works.
Just try out how quickly you can apply full caravan breaking from your normal settings at the speed you would normally travel on the highways( when and where it’s safe to attempt) then cut the time down by two thirds because you are aware of what you are doing , a sway only takes a couple of seconds to put you on your roof.

Ronald James
3 months ago

Like many caravaners, I have had a fair bit of experience with towing all over Australia in all sorts of conditions. I check tug and caravan weights, tow ball load, tire pressures and stay within the manufactures limits and drive to conditions. Never had a problem. I suggest some caravaners should at a minium, drive to conditions and SLOW DOWN, the speed limit is a limit and not a target. Safe Travels everyone.

Paul Crawford
3 months ago

I drive a Holden Colorado speced at 3500kgs towing capacity but why anyone would tow at the top end of the vehicle capacity is an accident looking for a place to happen (pardon the pun) me personally would not tow anything over 2800kgs as that is the maximum upper limit of its capabilities, also know your limitatitions.


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