Go on a holiday to the middle of nowhere and you’ll DIE
Over the next few months, countless Australians will be forced to listen to their friends and co-workers ponder holiday destinations.
Many factors will be considered during this process - from the number of recognisable landmarks that can be used to create obnoxious Facebook profile pictures, to whether the guy will believe them when they say the scooter was already dented when they got it.
Chief among these considerations, however, will be whether or not their chosen destination will be overrun with other human beings, who intend to use the same chunk of land for similar recreational purposes. It is this exact concern that drives so many over-confident Australians, particularly Queenslanders, to embark on ill-fated outback adventures every holiday season.
“All the best spots are too crowded!” they will say, “Everyone knows about them”. This year, they’ll assure you, they won’t be wasting their sick leave fighting leathery, middle-class sandal-wearers and screeching, ocean-sullying children over half-metre patches of damp sand.
They will find somewhere special - where they won’t have to pretend to half-heartedly clean public barbecues after using them or do that awkward smile-thing when some idiot accidentally flicks sand onto their towel.
“But where, then, shall you go?” you will ask. The answer, of course, will be “somewhere different”, “out-of-the-way” and “remote”. Their eyes will then twitch and their brows will furrow as a terrible and ill-considered plan forms and expands within their skull.
“The outback!” they’ll giddily exclaim, rubbing their soft, callus-free palms together. “We’ll head into the outback!”
Then they’ll download some free navigation-by-stars app, buy 12 boxes of protein bars and begin watching Man vs Wild clips on YouTube. Within weeks, they’re being winched off the side of a rock-face, parched, delirious and dotted with snake bites.
For many Australians, the outback does make for a wonderful holiday. It is the ultimate escape from civilization - a beautiful, seemingly endless landscape far removed from the tacky ringtones, flooding emails and “quirky” breakfast radio billboards of metropolitan life.
For those who have never set foot outside a major population centre, however, it is the worst possible holiday destination. From the people who attempt to cross horizon-kissing dirt roads in sedans, to the men of action who once opened a tin of peaches with a Swiss army knife and thus think they’re ready to survive solely on moisture squeezed from animal faeces.
These are the people who should stay as close to the coastline as they can, lest their Christmas break becomes a cautionary tale of horror for some tourist information centre worker in Alice Springs.
They want to prove something to themselves, to their families, and to that handful of people on Facebook they haven’t spoken to since primary school. They think they’ll return to their workplaces with riveting stories of self-reflection. But nobody will want to hear them. The only thing worse than someone talking about themselves is somebody talking about how they spent an entire week thinking about themselves.
And so, they trek towards the setting sun with the hope of encountering several near-death experiences that confirm that they are very much alive, or something.
Look, I get it. I really do. Earlier this year, I was bitten by a redback (albeit inside a Brisbane building). Nothing makes one feel more Australian than a good dose of venom coursing through the veins. This is especially true of Queenslanders. But I have no plans to replicate this experience in an isolated outback setting.
So, this summer, let’s resist racing off to some isolated patch of red dirt armed with only an iPhone and a bag of Fantails. The outback will always be there. And one day, when we can actually use a first aid kit and read a basic map, it will be the perfect holiday destination. Until then, make sure you clean the barbecue after you’ve used it.
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