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It was about 30 years ago when I was living in a tiny town in the Channel Country. I was married to the local copper. We had only arrived in the town of 30 residents a few weeks before..... we still didn't have a handle on how to " fit in " with this isolated and unusual community of people.

We were coasties: people who came from a far distant place that never knew about things like kangaroo shooters, feral pigs and opal mining.

In fact, in those days, I knew nothing about life in the Australian Outback. All I knew was that my husband was a policeman and he had applied to become an officer serving a remote community in one of the most extreme places in Australia. Where walking across the road could make you collapse from heatstroke.

I was in for a rude awakening. A baptism of fire. Literally. It was high summer and the heat was extraordinary. 

We had only been there for about a month. It was a Sunday morning and I got a phone call from a hospital about 11 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? She had  Meningococcal pneumonia. 

She was a young Nurse. A kind and caring young 18-year-old. In training. 

Alone, so far from home. 

As a Mum. I needed to be with her. 

So I started my journey to do what I had to do: be with my daughter. Because that is what mothers do. 

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 celsius - about 113 in Fahrenheit 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. 


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 like a woman at a women's sporting event. 

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 and 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


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. My husband was out on patrol. 

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.

I felt a sudden concern... what the hang was I about to see?

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? “


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.

That was in the days when Queensland Cops were part of the community. These days, I wonder how they feel?  I was only a copper's wife, but I knew how things were. 


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.

I have to wonder if we have forgotten that we can cross the great divide that our government is trying to create.

By leaving politics out of it. 

Because politics really does syphon all the fuel out of the tank and is leaving us stranded in no man's land. 

140599213 583627965854072 5824183534383857651 n

As far as my boys were concerned, I never saw them again. But I have never forgotten the day we all crossed the Great Divide. And Life didn't seem so black and white.

We were just Aussies helping each other out. 

 Footnote from Monty: the original article was written by Feather Douglas but Shaydee is now claiming ownership. Plagiarism is something to consider here....Feather got in touch and was cranky but I ruled that they were the same person and as far as I am concerned, that was enough for me

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