“We’re saved.” Rick waved his arms at the vehicle weaving along the dirt track. His three companions rose from their gum tree shaded campsite, also waved with vigour.
Amidst a whirl of red dust the Ute stopped. The driver thumbed the rim on his sweat brimmed Akubra, examining the grime riddled, young couples. “Ya bogged?”
Rick patted the Ute’s bonnet that carried their rustic knight. “We’ve been stuck here for four days,” pointing to their stranded wagon.
The driver’s door creaked as the engine idled and as he inspected their car as his rubber thongs made miniature dust clouds beneath each step. “Four days, huh? D’ya radio anyone?”
“Wish we did,” said Rick.
“Don’t see no recovery gear. No winch. No shovel.”
Four heads shook.
“D’ya tell anyone where ya goin’?”
Rick shrugged. “Our social media followers knew.”
“Followers?” The driver scanned the red track slicing through a harsh sun-faded green scrub against an undisturbed skyline. “Why d’ya want media out here for? When reporters are nothin’ but a mob of corruption chasin’ conspirators -”
“That face-bird thing?”
The quartet giggled. “We contact them through our smartphones,” said the young woman raising her phone.
The driver tilted his head, cocking an eyebrow. “Why didn’t you use ‘em smartphone’s to fetch help?”
“There’s no reception.”
“That’s why we have radios out ‘ere.”
“Do you have Wifi?”
“Me, no. It’s in town. Just look for them tourists sittin’ round this white pole in the pub’s carpark, staring at their hands like they’re prayin’ to some rod-god.”
“May I take a selfie with you?” She smiled, white teeth a contrast against sunburnt skin.
“What for,” screwing up his bronzed nose.
“You’re our hero,” readying for the shot.
“Nah mate, I’m just a bloke on the way to the pub, where ya can explain all while shoutin’ me a beer,” and checked inside their car.
“When we find civilisation I’m having the biggest beer,” Rick said to his three friends.
“I want a shower.”
“I want a pizza and –”
“Hey, we could be famous,” said Rick. “Survivors of the Outback.”
“We’ll sell it to the media.” Her camera phone videoing their rescue as the others followed suit.
When their engine roared into life and clunked into gear. “What the -”
“What,” the four asked in unison, as smiles sagged?
“D’ya know what ‘four wheel drive’ means?”
“Yes. We hired it for off-roading,” said Rick. The other three nodded, their phones still recording.
“But ya need to engage the four wheel drive to make all the tyres move.” He drove the car forwards with ease and parked it up, walked to his own Ute, its closing door creaked as he smirked at the foursome with lowered heads and phones. “Yep, you’d wanna tell ya mate’s all about your adventure. I’ll be at the pub – it’s just over that hill. Surprised ya can’t smell the beer from ‘ere,” and his laugh echoed in the midst of a red dust swirl.
Random Authors Note:
The above is based on a true story, and you’d be surprised how common this is. So common in fact that if I had a carton of beer for every time I aided a stranded tourist – I’d own a pub!
So here’s a few ‘simple’ tips should you wish to indulge in the amazing addictive wonderment of a 4 wd adventure in the Outback :
Research : read/ view all you can on 4WD for tips and tricks and Outback conditions. It’s not rocket science and there’s no race to get anywhere and the more you drive the better you are. I’m lucky to be under a life long apprenticeship from many a wise local, but for those who don’t have access to this sort of a gold-mine, I recommend these guys : 4wdaction.com.au
Equipment: make sure you have a mechanically sound 4WD vehicle with the added basics like a radio, maps (because paper never runs out of range), water, ropes, chains, spare wheels, tarps, and a shovel. Of course, you can purchase much more in fancy winches and other endless gadgets that could be worth a house mortgage too. But I’d recommend an EPIRB for long trips that you can hire – that’s how a group of tourists in the same situation above were rescued only last month.
Most Importantly – “TELL SOMEONE” Best places are the National Park Rangers or the Police where you register your travel times. You can also do this at local Roadhouses and Pubs where the ol‘ mates are more than happy to share advice on what tracks are best to travel in their backyards.
Okay, rant over, I’m going for a drive.
Thanks for reading.
(Oh, and snapshots are mine.)