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! Send us a travel tale (preferably about Oz) and if it’s published you’ll win a $300 travel voucher redeemable on Oz Experience Passes and ATA NT camping trips (www.adventuretours.com.au). Email your tales (700 words max), with a picture of yourself, to travel@tntdownunder.com

A big drunken night out in Byron Bay turned out to be more than Emma Dawson could handle.

It was balmy night in Byron Bay and my friend and I were getting geared up for another night out. A quick shower, a few glasses of goon (quality wine!) and a bit of lippy and we were ready to paint the town red.

Our quality hostel was located 20 minutes or so out of the town and we were walking in. The road was quite badly lit (there were no lights) but there was a full moon. After walking for five minutes or so, I noticed from the corner of my eye something moving very slowly beside the bushes. I grabbed my friend and nudged her but she thought it was my over-active imagination running wild as usual.

Two seconds later some random caveman lookalike came running towards us. He was an old fella, long-haired, bearded, and naked, with his tackle flying all over the place! He ran up to us, grunted and then ran off. We both stood there a wee bit stunned. We locked arm in arm and virtually ran into the town. What a strange start to the night, but then again, anything goes in Byron Bay. We finally hit the watering holes, and drinks were greatly needed after our flasher incident. Many cheap cocktails and shots were consumed as we’re real classy birds! We had a good old giggle about seeing the old boy’s dinger dangling all over the place.

We did the usual pub crawl and the final stop of the night was the very trendy establishment of Cheeky Monkeys, where everyone dances on the tables and pukes on the floor. You get the picture! There was a lot of drinking, getting jiggy with it on the tables with the locals and randoms that one meets on such a night out, as well as talking copious amounts of sh*t. I spied quite a tasty bit of totty and slowly drifted over to him. A drunken conversation ensued, which I initiated, although I’m not sure how. We babbled on for ages until the end of the night. He was quite a handsome Sydney fella, a combination of chiselled good looks and – suprisingly – he had a brain to match (or so I thought). He was a male nurse by occupation. Everything was going well.

I’d lost my friend at this stage and, being the quality friend that I am, I decided to leave without her. She was probably chatting someone up anyway. Nursey even offered to walk me home – what a gentleman. The moon was out and it was very romantic. We stopped, looked into each other’s eyes and kissed. This went on for 10 minutes or so. Then, out of the blue my Aussie friend said: ‘Do you want to go for a root on the beach?’ Initially I thought he was making some kind of gardening reference, but then I realised what he was really talking about. He must have seen the puzzled look on my face and thought his next action would sway my decision.

‘I’ve got a big dinger,’ he said, as he pulled down his trousers and undies and let it all hang out. Call me old-fashioned but I was a wee bit surprised, although I have to say, he wasn’t lying. He was a big boy. Needless to say that, being a lady, I declined his offer. He was just a tad too forward for my liking. So I staggered home alone, as usual and had a laugh at the Nursey’s ‘dinger’. I finally got back to the hostel and crept into the dorm room. Everyone was asleep so I kept the light off and clambered into my bottom bunk bed. My mate was fast asleep in her bunk opposite me. But I was happy to be sleeping alone.