Most grey nomads who have camped out in the bush or at some remote roadside stop have at one time or another allowed their over-active imaginations to get the better to them.
Laying in bed, the wind rustling the leaves on the trees can sound like a monster crocodile heading into camp, and a distant engine rumble is obviously going to be an invading army of crazed bikies.
While these ‘heebie jeebies’ can be annoying – at least until sleep conquers them – travellers tend to wake up the following morning laughing at how silly they were, and vowing to be less panicky in future.
Every now and again, however, people’s worst fears come very close to being realised. David Foreman and Ruth de la Lande were camping at the remote Warraweena Station in South Australia’s Flinders Ranges earlier this month when they had the scare of the lives.
Having just set up camp and with dusk descending, the couple noticed some vehicles travelling at high speed through the creek bed in the distance.
At first they thought it was some over-anxious travellers in a desperate hurry to get to camp but, when a plane started circling overhead, the pair knew something was afoot.
Not long afterwards, the station manager appeared to tell them that police were hunting an armed fugitive and his girlfriend, who were on the run in a stolen Toyota utility. The vehicle had apparently just been found abandoned two kilometres along the creek bed and had been covered in branches to conceal it from the plane.
Along with other campers, David and Ruth quickly took up the invitation to relocate to the homestead where they would feel a lot safer.
Having spent a sleepless night listening to police helicopters circling overhead, the couple learnt that the fugitive had eventually been captured and transported back to Port Augusta.
“We felt quite vulnerable at the time but were relieved to be able to return to our campsite the next morning knowing there was no threat,” Ruth said. “Probably an adventure we didn’t need to have!”