What a scorcher! Sweat dripped off my forehead. A massive heatwave hit Queensland. The hottest Australian Christmas on record ever and here I am stuck driving out to the middle of whoop-whoop with my whole family.
“How much longer to Uncle Ned’s and Auntie Karen’s farm?” I complained.
“Jake, you know Blackall is far away!” said Mum.
“It’s not all black. It’s all dust. It should be called Dustall,” joked Dad.
“Ha, ha. That’s so corny, Dad,” said Lisa.
“Mum, can you turn the air-conditioning up?” I asked.
“Rrrr,” groaned Mum, giving me the not-one-more-word look.
“I’m almost as scorched as a scorched almond!” said Dad, laughing at himself.
“Seriously Dad, enough. Those aren’t even jokes,” said Lisa.
Whoosh! Splutter-splutter STOP!
Steam poured out from under the hood.
That’s not good, I thought.
Dad popped the bonnet and checked the engine. “Radiator’s gone! I’ll need to call for help.”
This was perfect! What’s worse than being stuck in the outback? Not going out or heading back home, I thought.
Was it a mirage? No a miracle on wheels. A blurred haze of rusted steel chugged straight towards us.
“Hi Jensen’s. I’m Steve. You’re heading to Ned’s and Karen’s for Christmas?” called Steve from his old tractor.
“Too right. We’re having a bit of car trouble,” said Dad. “Can you give us a tow?”
“Sure can! I’ll have you hooked up in no time.”
And we chugged slowly behind Steve all the way to Ned and Karen’s farm.
“Thanks mate,” said Dad, shaking Steve’s hand. “Come in for a drink?”
“No, I have to get to my own celebrations. Glad to help.”
“Well that’s an entrance,” cried Uncle Ned.
“Merry Christmas!” shouted Auntie Karen, squeezing me so hard and covering me in kisses.
“Where’s the kids?” asked Dad.
“Oh, floating up in the dam. That’s where we set up Christmas!”
I couldn’t have been more wrong. We floated in tubes on the dam, barbecued Christmas lunch, ate under the tarp and slept in our swags under the stars.
It was a dam good Christmas!