My second stop, Nick’s third, was as eventful as the other two stops. It took us nearly an hour to get there, partly because we weren’t in a hurry but also because when you’re travelling off the beaten track it pays to take it at a reasonable pace. Have you heard the term they often use associated with road safety, “drive to the conditions”? Well that’s what we were doing, the conditions out there, especially off the track were rough and unpredictable so we drove slow and kept our eyes peeled for potential problems.

Although both of our vehicles could handle higher speeds we both stuck somewhere between twenty and forty kilometres an hour. Like when we travelled to the second site I travelled behind Nick but this time I was to the right because the wind had changed direction and was blowing his dust plumes to the left.

Another reason we kept it at a reasonable speed was because neither of us got out along Murphey’s Track often therefore if things had changed out there it was worth noting. I’m not talking about a tree falling down or something cosmetic like that, seriously we might know the bush but even we don’t know every tree or bush out here. No I’m talking about things like abandon cars, or rubbish, the kinds of things that show humans have been in the area. Even out here in the middle of nowhere the roads are fairly well trafficked but off the beaten track a person could go missing and not be seen for weeks if no one knows they are there. We might not find anything when we go out on runs like we were on, but we always looked.

Anyway back to what we were doing.

Despite things not looking very positive in relation to us finding the big booty of stolen treasure Nick had been asked to go looking for we still did a search of the area. The point of reference the criminal in Darwin had given the police for the third location was the ruins of an old shack. They weren’t on any map as a ‘tourist attraction’ but they’d been there so long that every local knew about them and it was part of the reason that Nick was able to debunk the story so quickly. The Darwin police might have thought the story sounded suspect but Nick knew it was as soon as he heard the criminal had located the ruins and the burnt trees in the same spot off Murphey’s track.

“Three fairly distinctive points, just not together. The guy obviously knows something about the place.” I said to Nick as we leant on the tray of the Beast drinking water.

“Yep. Too many connections not to warrant me being out here.” Nick said repeating almost word for word something he’d said to me when he first told me about his task back where we met a few hours before after his four wheel drive had gotten stuck in the sand.

“Well there is obviously nothing out here, but what’s you theory on the guy knowing the three locations like he does?” I asked.

“I don’t know. I’ve been thinking about it on and off all day but still haven’t come up with a definitive answer. The guy could have been out here, you know yourself how easy it would be for someone to be out here and no one would even know. Even if they came through town we wouldn’t necessarily know they’d been out here.” Nick took a swig from the bottle of cold water in his hand. “I can understand the guy giving up false information if he thinks he’s got a chance of getting off.”

“Lie and hope they don’t see through it?” I asked feeling a sense of deja vu about the conversation.

“Yeah, lie to a bunch of Darwin cops, give them several locations that look close on a map but a location that is far enough away you think they wont check, then hope for the best.”

“But he didn’t realise he was dealing with Diligent Nick!” I said with a smile.

“Nah, wouldn’t be a station in the country that wouldn’t check out the story. The guy might not get the leniency he has requested but what he is alleging is too serious not to pay attention to. One the guy I went through the academy with, Kenny James, you remember Kenny don’t you?”

“Yeah. Easter last year wasn’t it?” I replied referring to when Nick’s mate, who is a copper in regional Victoria, came to visit Nick in the wild.

“Year before, sweetheart, you gotta get with the times.” Nick grinned. “Anyway, he once told me they got a similar story relating to something buried in the Victorian high country. The perp was too stupid to realise he’d be left in custody until the search was done, he spent two weeks in custody while they searched. Bitched every day he was there apparently and he was still bitching the day he was charged when he finally admitted he wasted the cop’s time.”

“Sounds like a wonderful person!” I said.

“Yeah, it’s another reason why I can’t understand this guy in Darwin. He’s not far short of a career crime, he’d been questioned heaps of times, he had to know they’d keep him locked up while someone searched the area.”

“If he’s that bad, maybe he feels safer locked up” I replied not really offering insights just words to the conversation.

“Who knows. Anyway that’s Darwin’s problem now, we’ve done our bit. It’s time to head home.”

“Sounds good especially considering I came out here for a rescue that was only going to take me two hours door to door.”

”Well just make sure you get me the bill for the rescue, add a little bit extra for your efforts under miscellaneous costs for all the rest you’ve done and I’ll get the bill off to Darwin and have them pay it A.S.A.P.”

“There’s no need for the extra.” I said referring to the miscellaneous cost part of the comment.

“Bullshit Dean, I can’t pay you for the whole day under you normal rates but that doesn’t mean you don’t deserve something. Just get me your bill.”

“Okay, but can it wait until I get home?” I said with a smirk on my face.

“Let’s get out of here,” Nick said with a laugh.

“Race you home, last one there buys dinner!” I said as I jumped in the Beast.

Previous Desert Rescue Story here.