Out of Petrol in the Outback

It was the last day, the drive into Darwin. The night before we had been lost in the van, driving up and down the road looking for the overnight parking spot we had seen before entering Litchfield national park a few days earlier. The van my girlfriend and I were driving had to be returned with a quarter of a tank and I was being too careful in the refueling and hadn’t anticipated being lost for an hour before we eventually found the overnight parking place.

The next morning we packed our stuff ready to return the van and prepared for the short drive into Darwin, it would take about 2 hours and we wanted to leave with plenty of time to make sure we found the rental office before midday. Starting the van took a little longer than usual but it was almost unnoticeable, it wasn’t until a few kilometers down the road that I realized. The petrol light came on and instantly the engine cut off.

We were out of petrol.

The van had been running great through out the whole trip, around 3000 km. There hadn’t been a single problem. Until now. This wasn’t even a problem with the van, completely down to human error. In no way could I hold the vans mechanics responsible, that lay completely with me. Over the two weeks we had been driving the van had become a big part of that trip and many memories had been made. The night in Kakadu national park when we left the door open and mosquitoes had filled the inside. Driving through two feet of water on our quest to see crocodiles. And then the endless miles it drove unrelenting. We had left a message inside the van of our memories. The roof had been littered with peoples trips, a written map of the journeys this heroic van had made across Australia, so we left ours:

Adelaide to Darwin: let’s fuck shit up

As I drifted into the lay-by, there was only one thing I could do, I had to get a ride into town for fuel. I knew the town wasn’t far away from the previous nights driving back and forth. I left my girlfriend in the van and thumbed down a lift almost straight away.

I got into a car with a mother and her two young boys. “I don’t usually do this, you aren’t a serial killer are you?” It seemed like she was more nervous about this than I was.

At the nearest gas station I got the fuel quickly as time was running out and headed back to the highway to catch another lift. it wasn’t so easy this time. The cars were moving too fast to stop. After a few minutes two guys waved me over from the car park and asked where I was going. They agreed to drop me off even though it was out of their way. After helping them unload their beers into an esky we jumped in the car and were off.

“Have you ever seen Wolf Creek?”

© Our Shadows Will Remain

If you have enjoyed this then you might like to see my photo journal from Crossing the Nullarbor.

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