We had just arrived and were looking for adventures in the Aussie wilderness. Western Australia seemed like a good place to start – endless empty beaches, full of wildlife and massive expanses of picture postcard Outback. We put up notices in internet cafes around Perth looking for a lift up north as this seemed like the best way to do some proper exploring.
A week later we were on the way with a young Dutch guy called Arno and his Mitsubishi Lancer, Car Basten (prizes for anyone who can figure the name out). We did all the typical stops like the Pinnacles, Monkey Mia and Coral Bay along the coast.
All amazing places with loads of sightings of wildlife (though half was road kill), including kangaroos, emus, echidnas and even huge turtles getting jiggy in the surf and baby sharks close to the shore. After Exmouth it was time to leave the coast and head inland to the real Outback.
We had to make our way to a small town called Tom Price before dark so we wouldn’t be left in the middle of nowhere trying to dodge the kangaroos.
The first and only roadhouse for 300km had told us the road conditions were fine so we got on our way.
We eventually came to a junction, with two opposing road signs both saying Tom Price. One was a bitumen road and the other a 40km shorter dirt track. The decision was easy – less driving time (five hours on the road already), less petrol and some off-road adventure! This is what we’d been looking for – the middle of nowhere, with nobody around and beautiful landscapes surrounding us. We put the foot down, leaving a huge dust trail behind us.
Suddenly our driving became a bit wobbly. Arrgh, a tyre had blown out. Okay, no problem, just get the spare. Do we have a spare? Never checked that. I’m sure Arno has it all sorted. Yes, we have a spare! But it’s flat! Arrrgh! So here we were, about 100km from anywhere with human life on terrain that looked like it hadn’t seen people for a while. Shouldn’t have watched Wolf Creek last week! We all looked at each other. What the hell do we do now? What are our options: walk to Tom Price? No, that’s how people die. Stay with the car and wait? Err, isn’t that what they did in that movie. Okay, okay, don’t panic.
We decided to wait. I remember reading it in the SAS survival pocket book. Someone was bound to come around eventually. We had water, some food, we could last a day or two, I think. It was 40%u02DAC though!
Two hours passed, the sun was starting to go down, and still no sign of life. Suddenly, in the distance, was a big pile of red dust. Tornado? Emu stampede? No wait; there was a huge yellow machine among the haze. Was it Mick Taylor from Wolf Creek? Were we going to be bound and gagged and slashed to pieces? Eventually we could make out it was a sort of monster truck with a house of sorts on the back. The wheels were twice the size of the car – no chance of a spare then.
Out pops the stereotype Outback Aussie: chequered shirt, pot belly, thick accent. “Havin a bit of trouble?”, he says with a nudge of his hat. We tell him our story and he gives out a little grinning laugh. I could see he was thinking “stupid tourists”.
He was moving house – literally – and was taking a short cut like us. Except he had the vehicle for this type of track.
Incredibly, he had an air compressor. We pumped the spare up and no air came out of the tyre – must’ve been a slow puncture. We had no other option, we had to chance it.
Three hours later and we had made it, driving a bit more carefully with the big truck following us in the twilight.
Reaching Tom Price, we headed straight to the pub to celebrate being alive!
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