Gauntlet gets a piggyback to a new lease of life
'Very sad but we're happy it's getting
Gauntlet family resort to
tents as flood-damaged home goes in for
By Dennis Amor
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AN adventurous family of 14 has had to
resort to living in a tent while their home ‒ a converted
1984 Austral Tourmaster bus ‒ undergoes major
Peter Cairns, partner Allison and their 12 children
aged between 2 and 23 have been on the road
for 14 years, claiming to be Australia's largest and longest travelling
Eight of the youngsters were were born on the
road in different locations.
But their astonishing sojourn in The Gauntlet ground to a halt
after being bogged in the Townsville floods which left almost 1000 people
"We tried getting a tow company to pull us out in the last week before the
flood but there was nothing anyone could do. We even tried the army,"
Peter told Caravanning News.
The bus ended up completely swamped in the floodwaters and is now
undergoing repairs costing thousands of dollars.
An online GoFundMe
appeal launched by a friend and follower of the family's extraordinary
travels has already raised over $3000 towards the cost of putting their
home back on the road.
The Gauntlet kids in their temporary home
was only the second time during their travels they had become bogged
without successful freeing The Gauntlet.
"We called it 'Sunday Floody Sunday'," Peter said.
"It was starting to get dark and so we went to a little nearby hill where
we watched as the bullbar went under.
"The last time Allison walked out of the bus the water was up to her
shoulders. We said goodbye to The Gauntlet and watched it fade into
A tow company was asked to pull the bus out in the week before the flood
but there was nothing anyone could do.
"We even tried the army," Peter explained.
"I never wanted to go back to the bus but a fella we met threw me in his
4WD and we went to see if we could get to it after the floods receded.
"I'll never forget seeing it sitting out in the middle of the paddock.
Expecting to see complete annihilation, I was pleasantly surprised to see
that the water must have peaked at the time we left.
"The first thing I did was look at the dash and saw that all the gauges
weren't covered in mud. I walked inside and although the carpet up the
front was wet, up towards the rear the floor was completely dry."
Peter was over the moon when the engine "fired up" after spraying WD40 and
cleaning the air filters.
"But the bus was in no condition to be driven on the road and was towed
away just the other day to repair things like the clutch, gearbox, diff,
brakes, alternator, wheel bearings, electrics, pneumatic switches and
controls etc etc," he said.
"We watched it go up on the back of the truck and be driven away. It was
very sad but we're happy it's getting rebuilt."
He said his family was now living in tents next to where the bus was
"The caravan parks quoted us between $2500 and $3000 a week to stay in
cabins. We're expecting to be tent camping for
about four weeks or more while the bus is being repaired."
Peter said there was "a long way to go" before his family could hit the
"There is only so much you can do in a day," he explained.
"We still have to replace many items such as the generator, air cons,
water pump and many other things.
"Most of my tools were destroyed and we lost many possessions but we saved
a few as well.
"The Gauntlet is not just a bus ... it's a family member. This old
bus has given us 14 years of endless memories and has taken us to places
we could only dream about.
"It is the only home that eight out of our 12 children know. It will be in
our family for a very long time and it will give us more memories into the
He praised insurers Ken Tame who had supported the family during its
"We would be completely off the road for good had we not been insured,"
"They have been very good in our time of need."