Day 115: Roadhouse Nowhere

Roadhouse Nowhere.
Matt Zurbo

(Panorama of truck road train, that is, one truck pulling three or four loads, as it drives though flat desert, with shrubs and lots of blue sky.)

The Outback is never-ending.
(Truck coming over rise in desert.)

But there are roads through it.
(Wonky red gravel road, dust from truck passing.)
(Signpost: Next Fuel 300km.)
Sometimes they bend with the heat, every creek, riverbed and floodway dry for 1,000s of kilometres.

Another road train comes in.
(Truck pulling up outside small, basic desert roadhouse. Other trucks parked either side of highway. Railway opposite. No other houses about. A few goats, that’s it.)

Jacob loves growing up at his Dad’s roadhouse.
(Kid, barely able to se over dash, smiling, as he honks big truck horn. Truck door is open. One ground truck driver is looking startled.)

Torrens Creek, population 15.
(Truckie, later to be shown as gig Sergio – massive, strong, bald, bit of a gut – carrying kid to embarrassed father in roadhouse doorway.)

Jacob goes to school (in a shack) on one of the cattle ranches, with a few rancher’s kids.

Jacob’s Mum is one of only two women out here. She says her and Dad work too hard to notice.
(Dad changing kegs, sweating, Mum making meals. Customers in background, getting rowdy. Jacob sitting on bar stool playing with model plane.)

Jacob hopes Sunshine stays, though.
(Sunshine, about three years older than Jacob, yelling, cracking whip at cattle. Jacob beside her, looking embarrassed, blushing.)

But mostly, Jacob hangs out with the truck divers!
They come in at all hours, from all places.
(Truckies eating in pub. Every one of them is as wide/solid as they are tall. Beefy.)

There’s Sergio, who is HUGE!
And Big Pete,
and Curly Lou.
Jacob thinks it’s like hanging out with superheroes!

Old Keith is his favourite. Jacobs’s always asking him to tell the rickety bridge story.
(Old truckie, with black Elvis hair, standing on his table at roadhouse, hunched, hands clawed, telling the other truck drivers his tale, Above him, a 1950’s truck is driving along a tall, flimsy bridge made from timber offcuts.)
Dad says Keithy is a part of the desert’s oral history.

Torrens Creek is cattle country.
(Jacob and Sunshine playing in foreground. Behind them, cattle are being herded.)

Everybody works with beef,
eats beef,
talks about beef!
(Big truck drivers all scoffing down their beef and vegies meals. Jacob on small table, doing the same.)

Sunshine says one day they’ll have solar trucks with hover wheels.
“That sounds good to me!” says Curly Lou.
“No more changing flat tyres,” laughs Sergio.

Most cattle stations around here as so big they use helicopters to round up the cows. Sometimes Jacob gets to go.

The land is different from up there. There’s wildlife!
Waterholes and gorges and things people only dream off!

Every year, the first storm of the wet season builds,
and builds!
“This one’s going to be a monster!” Jacob says.
(Monstrous black cloud rising over small roadhouse and its trucks.)

When the rain finally falls, it’s a real occasion!
Rivers form,
lakes appear, creeks change course,
the road becomes a waterway.
(Truck driving through water.)

Everything shifts and moves,
it’s like the land is alive.

The truck drivers complain and get bogged and help each other out,
and sometimes take chances on remote, flooded clay roads.
(Truck drivers working on un-bogging a truck)

But, secretly, Jacob thinks they love it as much as he does.
(Tuck drivers covered in red/black mud, smiling, laughing.)

This year, everybody’s flooded in at the roadhouse. Even the railway line is under.
Then a call comes in…
“Old Keithy’s caught in a floodway!”
(Everybody gathered around roadhouse UHF)

Everybody rushes to help!
(All putting jackets on as they run out door. Jacob and Sunshine, too.)

“The water must be 6ft high and rising!” worries Dad.
“The choppers are all down,” Curly Lou calls. “We have to get a tow line to him!”
(Keithy standing nervously on his truck roof, in hard rain.)

Oh, no! Too much beef! The truck drivers keep sinking the rescue dinghies.
(Sergio standing in sunken small dinghy. Only its ends pointing out of water, one end with rope attached.)

We need a hero.
(Truck driver’s hands above eyes, shielding from falling rain, squinting to watch Keithy. Jacob and Sunshine running beneath them, unnoticed, carrying a dinghy.)

(Sunshine, pushing through chest high water pulling rope.)

(Jacob paddling through hard rain, cow floating by in background.)

(Another of Jacob paddling, tree trunks just missing him. Him pushing off branches.)

(Jacob paddling, Keith watching, hugging exhaust above now submerged roof.)

(Truck drivers reeling in Sunshine, Jacob and Keithy.)

Legends for a moment!
(Everybody in rain, cheering. Sunshine, Jacob, Keithy dragging themselves/being helped to their feet.)

Truck drivers don’t dance very often!
(Everybody in the roadhouse, wet, laughing, dancing!)

Dad gives Jacob a ROAST for being so reckless! (Then whispers ‘Good stuff…!’ when no-one notices.)

Growing up in an Outback roadhouse can be boring for Jacob.
But it has the BEST moments!
(Outside view of roadhouse through rain. Open doors and windows, everybody having a great time. Dog on porch.)

Thousands of them!
(Panorama of roadhouse, sun breaking through clouds)

(Desert bush full of new, green plant life. Birds, a few cows eating in receding water.)

And roads that lead everywhere and anywhere in the world, if you use your imagination…
(Long desert road, empty but for truck in the distance.)


The End

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