British backpacker who ditched Canadian on Cairns to Sydney van trip forced to pay for damage

EXCLUSIVE: Twist in Aussie road trip from hell as backpacker who deserted her travelling mate and took off with the campervan is left out of pocket after being ‘dobbed’ into the rental company

  • Canadian Jenna Henderson was left at a campsite by her travel companion 
  • She went halves with British veterinary nurse Gemini Slater in a campervan  
  • The pair planned to drive from Cairns to Sydney but trip turned into a nightmare
  • Ms Henderson aired the incident in a Facebook group slamming Ms Slater 
  • But Ms Slater said Ms Henderson refused to go half in damage costs for the van
  • The Brit says she has had to pay more than $1200 in fees to the rental company 

A British backpacker has been hit with a $1200 bill after her Canadian travel companion reported her for damaging the campervan after being left stranded half-way through a 2500km road trip down Australia’s east coast 

European veterinary nurse Gemini Slater, 30, left communications professional Jenna Henderson stranded at a Brisbane camping ground last Wednesday and took off in their motorhome after a massive falling out during the planned trip of a lifetime.

The pair, who had connected on facebook group, had planned to spend three weeks together driving down the country’s scenic east coast from Cairns to Sydney.

But the journey descended into a trip from hell when they clashed over travel expectations and the relationship soured. 

British veterinary nurse Gemini Slater, 30, (pictured) said she has been forced to pay additional fees for damage to a rental campervan after her trip with a fellow backpacker turned sour

British veterinary nurse Gemini Slater, 30, (pictured) said she has been forced to pay additional fees for damage to a rental campervan after her trip with a fellow backpacker turned sour 

Jenna Henderson (pictured), a former communications officer, was left at a Brisbane campground last week by Ms Slater after the pair's co-travel arrangements broke down

Jenna Henderson (pictured), a former communications officer, was left at a Brisbane campground last week by Ms Slater after the pair’s co-travel arrangements broke down 

After being dumped, Ms Henderson posted in the group slamming Ms Slater for leaving her stranded when she had paid $1,250 – half the cost of the campervan.  

But Ms Slater says she has also been left out of pocket after Ms Henderson refused to split all camper costs 50/50 as initially agreed.

The Brit said she not only coughed up hundreds of dollars to fix damages to the campervan roof after they drove under a low pass,  but was slapped with additional fees when Ms Henderson later reported the incident to the rental company. 

‘I personally paid around $220 for it to be fixed, but the company have taken an additional $500 because of the accident plus the $500 deposit taken at the time I signed for the camper,’ Ms Slater told Daily Mail Australia. 

‘Some of that money may be returned when I take the campervan back, but I won’t know that until they’ve assessed the van and the repairs.’ 

As their relationship soured, and Ms Henderson became paranoid of being abandoned, Ms Slater said sje had threatened to send images of the scraped camper roof to the company. 

‘I said I had lost trust in her so she said she was going to send the hire car company pictures of the damages so they take more money off me if I left her, which she has,’ Ms Slater said. 

‘So now I am out of more money.’ 

The three week trip was meant to take the pair on a 2422km journey from Cairns in Far North Queensland down to Sydney

The three week trip was meant to take the pair on a 2422km journey from Cairns in Far North Queensland down to Sydney

Ms Henderson and Ms Slater paid half of the costs for the campervan (pictured) but had a disagreement about the cost of damages to the vehicle

Ms Henderson and Ms Slater paid half of the costs for the campervan (pictured) but had a disagreement about the cost of damages to the vehicle

Asked if she reported the damage to the company, Ms Henderson told Daily Mail Australia she did not wish to comment and was ‘moving on’ with her life and ‘hopes Ms Slater does too’.  

After being ditched, Ms Henderson said she spent $400 buying a last-minute flight from Brisbane to Sydney and ‘stays at Airbnbs because hostels are all booked up.’

‘I don’t even want to think about it right now how much I’ve paid,’ she said.

‘I also got sick over the last couple days so I’m not doing well.’

Last month, Ms Henderson responded to Ms Slater’s post on a backpackers social media page seeking out a travel companion for her  trip to Cairns. 

The pair arranged to meet in the Far North Queensland town, where they hired a campervan on October 31 to make their way down to Sydney.   

But after two and a half weeks on the road, the relationship fell apart. 

‘I came back to the site with all my luggage tossed about,’ Ms Henderson wrote in a backpackers Facebook group, detailing the drama. 

‘Now I am out of a ton of money, need to find accommodation and get to Sydney. 

‘She mentioned looking for other travellers to join her for the ride. Be forewarned, she could take your money and run! Be careful who you ride share with!’

Pictured: Damage to the vehicles roof after the pair travelled underneath a low pass

Pictured: Damage to the vehicles roof after the pair travelled underneath a low pass 

 The post left social media users divided with some siding with Ms Henderson while others said they wanted to hear Ms Slater’s version of events before forming a judgement. 

In response, Ms Henderson said the ‘story was simple’ and that Ms Slater ‘liked me for the first week and then started to make remarks and criticise me’.

‘She flat out stated “I wasn’t the ideal travel partner and she wished she could do it alone or with someone else”,’ she wrote in the comments. 

‘I said okay give me my money back for the remainder of the campervan rental, which was about $400 and she could continue the trip her way – she didn’t like my suggestion, so I said we would stick together until Sydney,’ she said. 

‘I went to grab dinner, was gone about 30 mins and she had left and checked out of the campsite we booked together (which I also lost another $50 from). Win win situation for her! Lose-lose for me.’

Ms Henderson said she had reported the incident to police and the car company but she would have to take her to court to collect any money – which was unachievable because Ms Slater had no fixed address to ‘serve her’ with papers. 

But speaking to Daily Mail Australia, Ms Slater gave a very different versions.

After connecting via her post, Ms Slater said the pair met up once in Melbourne, where they are both currently based, and arranged to meet when they arrived in Cairns.

She said they were initially going to both drive and be listed on the contract but they were only able to secure a last minute rental for the 2,422km trip – and, because the vehicle was a manual gearbox, only Ms Slater was able to drive.

‘She didn’t make any point of saying that she wanted to sign the contract,’ Ms Slater said.

‘I felt like I trusted her enough to sign for the camper, which in hindsight was a mistake.’

Ms Henderson said she felt 'betrayed' and 'scammed' after being left stranded at the campsite

Ms Henderson said she felt ‘betrayed’ and ‘scammed’ after being left stranded at the campsite 

The Brit said she quickly realised the pair had different travel styles, which was fine at first and they managed to continue on their trip – at some points staying at each other’s friends and relatives home together up north. 

She said her travel companion was not as clean as she could have been, did not want to cook and eat meals together, and would pull out of tours they booked together halfway through because she could not handle the heat.  

But tensions began to arise after two tour incidents highlighted the differences in their personalities and expectations. 

In the first, Ms Slater said Ms Henderson dropped out of a Fraser Island tour to hang by the pool, before racing ahead of her on a second occasion while they were kayaking in Noosa, leaving the lesser experienced Briton on her own. 

But when Ms Slater said she wanted the trip to be done together instead of seemingly operating as solo travellers, she says Ms Henderson took it as a ‘personal attack’ and became ‘vindictive and spiteful’.  

‘I would drop her off at the mall to get her nails off, I had a day on my own, but when it comes to these experiences [like tours], I told her I may as well be doing it on my own, because I pretty much am,’ Ms Slater said. 

‘Then she started getting paranoid that I would ditch her. I tried to reassure her I wouldn’t, but I didn’t realise how nasty it would get.’ 

Ms Slater said the three days the rift was at its worst felt like 'the longest in my life'

Ms Slater said the three days the rift was at its worst felt like ‘the longest in my life’

After their second row, Ms Slater said Ms Henderson asked her to buy her out of the rental car if she wanted to travel alone, but she said she was unwilling because she did not sign up to covering the costs of the rest of the trip solo. 

But the straw that broke the camel’s back came when Ms Slater scraped the car’s roof while driving and asked Ms Henderson to help cover the costs of DIY items to fix the damage. 

‘She said, “Why should I have to, you crashed the van?” but she accepted this on the basis of me driving,’ Ms Slater said.

‘If you think it is 50/50 as a whole, it should be 50/50 as a risk. If she was driving, I would have had to pay as well. But she point blank refused to pay for anything because I was the driver.’ 

From that point on, Ms Slater said the trip turned into a nightmare, with three days of silence as they drove and Ms Henderson, scared of being abandoned, following her everywhere and demanding she hand over the keys when she left the vehicle. 

 While she admitted it was an ‘unkind decision’ to leave, Ms Slater said she has been happier ever since she did. 

Ms Henderson is pictured walking along a beach in Far North Queensland during the disastrous road trip

Ms Henderson is pictured walking along a beach in Far North Queensland during the disastrous road trip 

‘She was a squatter in my campervan who wasn’t meeting my expectations – neither of us were meeting each other’s expectations – but she had lied or misinformed me about what she wanted from the trip,’ she said. 

‘I am not evil, but I think when someone is pushed to make no alternative choice, I am backed into a corner, what am I going to do?’

The pair met in Cairns (pictured) before leaving down the coast a few days later on October 31

The pair met in Cairns (pictured) before leaving down the coast a few days later on October 31 

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