The following morning just after smoko, well my smoko, which doesn’t involve smoke and is usually about the time many other people are actually getting out of bed, I heard my phone ringing. I don’t often leave my phone sitting on the kitchen table when I go outside but even I forget things occasionally.

I’d actually left it on the table while I drank my coffee and sifted through some of the paperwork making sure there was nothing overdue. I’d left it there because I was distracted by a noise outside and I simply forgot to grab it as I walked out. Turns out the noise was just a kangaroo ratting through the pile of branches no doubt looking for something to eat.

I suppose stories like a kangaroo in my backyard don’t do a lot to quell all those rumours that foreigners seem to have about us Aussies riding to work on kangaroos, but I assure you while I might see a kangaroo around the house once or twice a month no one I know actually rides one to work…seriously have you ever tried to saddle a roo? Now hypnotising a water buffalo that’s different, we teach that to kids in first grade.

So given that my phone was inside and I was outside getting my saddle for Kenny of course I missed the call. You might actually think I was lucky to hear it at all but out here when there is no other noises sounds like phones ringing do carry, I obviously couldn’t hear the thing from in town but in most parts of my back yard, with favourable wind, I can hear it. I was stepping up onto the verandah just about to grasp the door handle when the phone stopped ringing so I didn’t miss it by much.

When I got into the kitchen and picked the phone up the message on the screen was telling me that I had missed a call from Nick Sat, which was my phone book name for Nick’s satellite phone. I unlocked my phone and began to scroll my way through to the phone book looking for Nick’s number and hit dial. Immediately I got an engaged signal, how dare Nick get engaged without telling me! I hung up and immediately dialled the number for his other phone for which I almost immediately got the recorded message about his phone being turned off or out of range, hardly surprising.

Being police issue phones Nick did not have message bank of any kind on the phone. Most emergency services actually stop such services on their phones so that people can’t leave messages in an emergency and then complain or even try for legal action against the phone’s owner for not responding. Figuring that Nick was probably trying to ring me again and that’s why I got the engaged signal, the same signal he’d probably be getting from my number, I immediately hung up. About four seconds later my phone started ringing again.

Nick’s number came up on the screen, I hit the answer button and lifted the phone to my ear. “Hey Columbo. How’s it going? Missing me so much you have to ring me?”

“You know the truth girl!” came the reply.

“You do know married couples spend less time talking than we do, don’t you!”

“If I’ve told you once I’ve told you a hundred times Dean, I’m not marrying you no matter how sweetly you ask.”

“Way to break a girl’s heart!”

“Heart? I didn’t know you had one?”

I knew he was joking but that didn’t stop me wanting to kick him in the dangly bits, in a joking manner of course!

“Is there a reason I am hearing your sweet and dulcet tones on the end of my telephone on such a lovely morning.”

“Yeah there is mate, this is a business call.”

He didn’t sound at all worried or concerned and the fact that he’d seemed happy to have our little banter at the start of the call indicated that whatever business it was he had was not a matter of life or death.

“What can I do for you Nick?” I said changing to serious mode.

“I need you for a rescue.”

Nick went on to tell me that there was a four wheel drive stuck in the sand. In his words it was going to be a pretty simple rescue, the four wheel drive had been scouting around the outback off the beaten track a bit and suddenly found itself driving over a sink hole.

Sink holes were not a common thing in our area and when they did happen they often where not seen by people. Unlike a sink hole on the coast where water washes out the dirt below the surface and it just gets to a point where the surface can no longer hold itself up a sink hole in the desert is more just a shifting of sand. The arse doesn’t fall out of the world and leave us with a big hole but it can move enough that a car or even a truck, if the hole is big enough, can get stuck. The quicker the hole forms the more chances there are that the vehicle will be bogged to the point of not being able to pull itself out.

From what Nick was describing that is exactly what had happened, the hole had formed and the four wheel drive had just sunk up to the axles leaving it no way of pulling itself out. Most decent four wheel drives with a which could pull a vehicle out but there was obviously a reason Nick was calling me and not using his own four wheel drive winch.

“You know where the ‘04 fires took out that row of trees on Murphey’s track?”

It might have been an ambiguous reference to most people but I knew the exact spot he was talking about and the particular area fitted well with exactly what Nick was telling me had happened. I estimated that the trip out there would take me about fifty minutes, including the time it took me to get the Beast out and organise myself.

“Yeah I know where you are.” I said into the phone. “Gimmie an hour and I’ll meet you there.” I had a thought as I spoke. “You’ll be hanging around ‘till I get there I assume?”

“Yeah I’ll be here.” Nick replied.

Previous Desert Rescue story here.