The Cynical Traveller

The Coorong Killer: A Real Life Campfire Story.

You know the sort of stories kids tell to scare each other..
this is one of those.

Except it is true.

And it happened to me.

You might know that I was in Australia in January. I had flown to Melbourne from Thailand, and had arranged to pick up a free truck that a company needed relocated from Melbourne to Darwin which means driving through the most desolate and isolated parts of Australia.

Mazda Ute

Grabbing some groceries and supplies before heading out on the journey

The truck I was supposed to drive, they were concerned would not make it so they gave me a different one. A small little Mazda pickup. I left Melbourne, picking up some groceries and camping gear on the way out of town and began to make my way toward Adelaide along what is known as the Great Ocean Road. You may have seen some of the pictures I have posted from along the way.


The first day went perfectly. But was the chill of the night a sign of what was to come?


The first night, I found a free little camping spot by a river. There were some other people camping there as well. Some German travelers who had been living in Australia for a year, heading the opposite direction as I was to Melbourne.
I ate some dinner, setup my tent and went to sleep. It ended up being too cold though so eventually I moved into the back seat of the truck. Woke up around dawn and started on my way again
As I crossed west across the southern portion of Australia and left the state of Victoria and came into South Australia, the temperature began to increase quite a bit.
Where it had been nice perfect weather for driving with the windows open, it began getting hot enough that I wanted to put the air conditioning on but feared doing so…
You see.. when I picked this truck up.. they had pointed out that the radiator had a “pinhole leak” in it but that they had put some stop leak in and it seemed to have taken care of it.
“Just keep your eye on the fluids” they said. I’ve driven worse before so no problem.
But as the sun was beating down against the silver 1999 Mazda pickup in the South Australian bush, and the hot black asphalt reflected a shimmering glare of heat
The temperature gauge began to rise well beyond where it should be.
I pulled over but it was too late.
The engine was done. A blown head gasket for sure.


The pinhole leak had turned into a crack the length of the radiator.

I managed to limp the truck along a few more kilometers to a secluded rest area with some shade, and began to ponder what I was going to do.
The nearest named place on google maps, wasn’t even a town. I was hours away from anywhere. Not long before, I had passed a sign. “Adelaide, 300 Km.” Just a few hours away. I had been thinking about where I would eat dinner. Adelaide seemed so close, now all of a sudden it seemed a world away.

Map of where I was stranded

Tilley Swamp? Bunbury? Salt Creek? Not liking my options.

Sparse traffic drove by on occasion. Sometimes even a car would pull into the rest area but most of them never even stopped. Thankfully, I was well prepared with water and food. I drank a soda to wash down some of the heat and dust.
I was stranded in an area known as Coorong National Park.
I sent a message to an Australian friend joking about how I hoped I wouldn’t end up the star of Wolf Creek 3. Wolf Creek being an Australian horror movie loosely based on a true story about a serial killer who targets foreign tourists by disabling their cars while they are in remote areas.

“Wrong part of the country, we keep the serial killers up in the desert” I was told.

At one point two vehicles came and pulled into the bush to set up a camp.
We didn’t meet or talk though.

Somehow the company that owned the truck had contacted a guy who owned a roadhouse about 40 kilometers away in Salt Creek.
He said he would come tow me and the truck and he finally arrived at about 1130pm.
I’ll cut this part short but basically he towed me with a tow strap while I had no lights and barely any brakes. “If you let that strap get loose and run it over we will all end up upside down in the bush, and if there is anything in the road I am just going to need to run through it and hope for the best because if I hit the brakes you will plow right through me.”
Not looking forward to running over any wallabies or other marsupials, I suggested that we should take it slow as I’d rather make it there late than not at all.
After what was one of the most harrowing drives of my life we made it to the roadhouse. He showed me to one of the run down old cabins in the back and after talking for a bit and having a shower, I quickly passed out exhausted.
The next morning, I went into the roadhouse where I waited for a customer to come in who could give me a ride to or toward Adelaide.. after most of the day I finally hitched a ride, first with a woman who had just returned from vacation in America and a 2nd ride with a guy who had also recently been to the States. I finally made it to Adelaide that evening, around 24 hours after the truck had overheated.
So right now you might be thinking, this doesn’t seem so bad really? Right? And I had thought the same thing. An annoying inconvenience and somewhat of a change in plan, but not anything I haven’t dealt with before.

A young backpacker who endured a savage attack on a South Australian beach reportedly ran naked and bleeding from sand dunes screaming that she was going to be killed.

“The woman, believed to be a 23-year-old nurse from Brazil, was travelling with a young German woman when they were allegedly attacked by the man.
They are both in hospital in a stable condition after they were rescued at Salt Creek in Coorong National Park, south-east of Adelaide, at around 6:30pm on Tuesday.
A 59-year-old Adelaide man, whose identity has been suppressed, was detained when one of the women broke away from her alleged captor and managed to find help.
The accused man, who is of German origin and from the southern Adelaide suburb of Morphett Vale, is a regular visitor to Salt Creek.”

A month later. Same location. One of the men who helped rescue the victims, was the guy from the roadhouse who towed me from the rest area.
I am really glad the guy who towed me to his roadhouse with the run down cabins was on the up and up, and didn’t turn me into the next days special at the roadhouse kitchen. Apparently between selling burgers and fish he rescues stranded tourists and kidnapped foreign backpackers.

Now authorities think the guy who attacked the women is a serial killer after finding pictures of other campsites in the area and at other remote beaches. Authorities are searching the area where I was stranded for victim’s bodies.

Good and evil seems like an esoteric concept most of the time, but here it was at play in a fight for life and death.

So before you go to sleep this night,
ask yourself….
Was there blood on that 4 wheel drive vehicle that pulled through the rest area that night?
And what happened to the two who I left behind camping in the middle of the night…

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