After finally finishing my uni course, I longed for something more exotic than the local pub to amplify my sense of achievement.

Leaving the south coast of Oz behind, I jumped in my ’89 Nissan Pulsar and headed to a friend’s one-bedroom unit in Bondi. She’d told me there was nowhere to sleep but that she had plenty of vodka and a fridge full of Red Bull… so I got there as soon as I could.

Four hours after I arrived, with vision more than blurry, we found ourselves at Kings Cross and stumbling into one of the popular nightclubs, Sugarmill. My friend had invited four other girls. They had hip flasks in their bags and smiles on their faces. I suspected a long, drunken night. Perfect.

Hours and brain cells later I had succeeded. I had a bachelor of communications in one hand, a strawberry daiquiri in the other and I was balancing them both on the dance floor. Being an after grog hog, I regained a small amount of sensory awareness over a Big Mac. Then realising I had spent almost an entire paycheck on one night, we decided it was time to get going.

It was raining and we were all wearing short dresses. Half of us, including myself, wanted to take the bus, heavily minimising the nights cost, the other half preferred shelter and quick arrival via taxi.

Being Driven Mad

Ending up in the taxi group, the first we got into kicked us out, refusing to take us to Bondi.

Now with rain-drenched hair and outfits, the second taxi we hailed already had his doors locked and upon hearing our destination, sped off.

It was 2.30am and we were third time lucky. A small Asian driver wearing thick prescription glasses finally stopped for us. We hopped in, relaxed and happy to sit down. After 10 metres of traffic our little taxi driver turned abruptly and fumbled: “You have to get out, now! I need to be at the airport at three.”By this time, we sat; blisters on our heels, mascara running down our cheeks, grinding our teeth. We had found a cab, we weren’t moving. We were going home.
“Wait a second. By law, once we’re in this taxi, you can’t refuse to take us to our destination. You have to take us,” we pleaded.

As our little taxi driver yelled broken English at us we were already fastening our seatbelts. Rain pelted down on the roof of the cab, increasing the deranged acoustics within. “You’re taking us. It’s the law,” I repeated.

Our predicament was now causing a line of traffic behind us. Drunken pedestrians meandered around us palming the windows. The horns of the impatient barely sounded above our driver’s voice. He did not seem so little now.

Clearly unhappy with the situation, he locked the doors and dramatically increased his speed. “Fine. You want to stay in. You come to the airport,” he said. Our stomachs dropped and I felt anxious, but realised our small statured driver was no match for us three. After all, we all go to the gym. Some of us even lift weights.

Not ready to back down we argued all the way to Sydney airport. When there, we took his driver’s code and ran to a police officer who told us we were right, but silly to be so stubborn.Apparently, it happens a lot. We didn’t care; it was the principle of the matter. Though it did end up taking us three hours just to get home. When there, I realised, I didn’t even have anywhere to sleep.

While trying to drive across the Simpson Desert, LIZZIE JOYCE and her partner were forced to hitch a ride with some dodgy truckers.

Early one January morning my boyfriend Dan and I set off on our trip across three states, covering 3,000 miles on what would turn out to be the best trip I have ever done, not to mention the most dangerous. We were attempting to cross the Simpson Desert on our way to Alice Springs from Sydney. We were fully prepared and set off in our 4WD loaded with equipment, including 60 litres of water, a double swag, a laser beam,
and an Epirb signal.

After 10 hours of driving, watching the landscape turn from highways and tall buildings to red earth and eternal horizons we glided past an old mining town called Cobar, stopped for a wee and drove on through, thankful that this ‘Hicksville’ town was not our destination. But while driving at an average speed of 120km per hour, the trusty car (which I was assured had “just had a full service and was made for driving across such terrain”) was disintegrating and the entire wheel was about to fall off.

Ugly mothertruckers

Suddenly, the brakes started to fail and smoke started pouring out the front passenger tyre. We were 120km from the last town and with at least 100km to the next, Dan decided we should drive on (without brakes) and see if we could make it to our destination. Luckily it didn’t last long anyway as the car stopped in defiance and we were forced to pull off the road in the middle of nowhere. Within minutes two semi-trailers driving in convoy by brothers, pulled up to offer us help and I’ve never been so glad to see two spectacularly ugly truckers before in my life. Freaky Brother One then began to undress me, with his eyes, almost frothing at the mouth at coming in such close proximity to someone of the opposite sex, while Freaky Brother Two was pretending to be a mechanic and baffling Dan with his bullshit. It was turning into Wolf Creek.

Nothing could be done with the car, and we had no choice but to accept a lift from Freaky Brother One to the nearest roadhouse 13km up the road. But then he said there wouldn’t be enough room in the cab so Dan should travel with his brother and I should hop into his cab by myself. By this point I was close to hysteria and there was no way I would be getting in that lorry by myself.

So we both hopped in with Brother Number Two. Dan settled in the middle of the very spacious cab which had enough room to house a small Albanian family! Relieved to be on our way to a phone box and in relative safety, (even if we were in being driven by an axe wielding maniac I had enough faith that Dan could knock him out if it came to it) I thought it would be plain sailing from here. After a couple of minutes on the road Brother Number One starts becoming agitated – he thinks he has lost his keys as he can’t use the radio to contact his brother. He pulls into the side of the road and asks me to hop out to see if he had left them in the door lock. This forced me into ungraceful acrobatic maneuvers in order to hang myself out the door and reach round to grab the keys, with freaky brother one more than enjoying the view of my ass in the air. The keys were there, so off we set again in stilted silence.

Roadhouse blues

Finally we caught sight of the roadhouse and saw our escape was only minutes away and we made a sharp exit from the freaky brothers. Good riddance!

The roadhouse turned out to be a petrol pump and a shop that was about to close. They had a phone though and we arranged for a tow truck to pick us up and take us back to the nearest town… Cobar (the Hicksville town we drove through scorning) where we would have to wait for the next three days for the car to be repaired. How ironic that the town we were laughing at turned out to be our refuge.

So we skipped the Simpson Desert and took another route to Alice Springs where we arrived two weeks later with the biggest smiles and the best memories!

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