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It was about 30 years ago when I was living in a tiny town in the Channel Country. It was a Sunday morning and I got a phone call from a hospital about 14 hours away. My daughter was in their care and suffering from a particularly nasty viral infection in her lungs. Could I perhaps come as soon as possible?

I spoke with my husband and he said that there was a shortcut through some backcountry that could shave about 3 hours off my trip. But there was no diesel on that road so he filled a drum up with fuel and told me to stop at a place about halfway through. There was a Police Station and a pub and the local cop would help syphon the juice from the drum and that would see me safely through.

I set off. It was stinking hot. About 45 degrees and my little pajero short wheel base bumped and chugged through the bulldust for mile after bone shuddering mile. I reached the town with 15 inhabitants and knocked on the Police Station door. There was a sign that told me he was out on patrol. Bugger. I looked in the back of the car and my husband had forgotten to put the hose in so that I could syphon the diesel.

download 2021 03 26T141821.215

not the road that Feather drove. But very similar

There were a few utes outside the pub so I walked up onto the verandah and ventured in. Now, I am a rather short fair-haired, green-eyed blondie and 30 years ago, not a bad looker. My heart skipped a beat when I saw what was in front of me. The bar had suddenly gone completely quiet. Every eye was on me as I stood there, alone, in the middle of nowhere and looking so out of place that I felt frightened and extremely nervous.

download 2021 03 26T143414.128

not the actual pub but you get my drift

The 7 men inside were all indigenous and did not look terribly fond of strangers invading their bar. I took a deep breath and walked up to the one who looked like he was biggest baddest of them all and smiled as sweetly as I could.

“ Could you help a lady in distress ? “ I asked. “ My car is just about out of diesel . I’ve got a full drum in the back but old mate hubby forgot to give me a syphon. Any chance you could help me out? “

He looked at me intensely. And said “ WATCHA DOING HERE LADY? YOU'RE A LONG WAY FROM HOME. “

I explained the reason for my mercy dash.

“ Only messin’ with you lady. Course we’ll help you out. “

With that, they adjourned from the pub and wandered outside into the midday heat.

download 2021 03 26T141159.286

Not the people who helped. I just thought this photo was rather good and could fit. No offence is intended and I apologise if someone thinks it is racist. Please don't haul me off to jail. 

Within a flash, the syphon one of them had in the back of their ute was grabbed and diesel was flowing into my tank. One of his mates, stubby in hand started laughing and said

“ HEY I BET THAT'S THE FIRST TIME YOU PUT IT IN AND NOT TAKING IT OUT!

They put the drum back in the back of my pajero and the syphon was slung back onto the ute and I followed them back into the pub and shouted them a round of beers to say thank you.

Needless to say, I made it to my daughter and she recovered and I returned home via the longer but safer road this time.

A few months later, I was heading down to my local pub to pick up some books from the publican’s wife. It was about 9 pm. Cool enough to venture out and the flies had retired for the night.

download 2021 03 26T140751.663

photo does not reflect the town or the people in the bar at that time. It was just a really good picture and I wanted to use it. 

It sounded like a real ding dong going on at the pub. Raised voices, angry shouts and a sign that a fight was about to erupt. The local oil workers could get a bit enthusiastic at times, but this sounded different.

I walked in, ready to shuffle behind the bar and head to the publican’s residence out back.

Inside were the chaps from my earlier diesel dilemma. They were going hammer and tong with the oil workers and things were about to get nasty.

As soon as they spotted me, my syphon mate yelled out “ hey lady! What are you doing here? “

I laughed and said   “ WATCHA DOING HERE MISTER? YOU'RE A LONG WAY FROM HOME? “ 

He laughed his head off and said that they had come down to see a cousin who lived just out of town. I told the oil workers that these men had saved my bacon a few months ago and I was forever in their debt.

The publican shouted everyone a beer and my new best friends told the story about how they rescued me and a few hands were shaken.

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I never saw them again. But I have never forgotten the day we all crossed the Great Divide.

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