It’s official, I can sleep through an explosion and a car on blazing fire. This is not a euphemism for anything, this is what actually happened in a small town in the middle of Australia. Spoiler alert: no one got hurt and it wasn’t our car. Honestly, I would have most likely slept through all the noise, all the commotion, all the yelling, the fire brigade showing up, banging on the door… It was 4 in the morning on a Thursday. This was the day we were supposed to leave the small coastal town to go back up to Sydney.
It was pitch black outside and I was awoken by A, who sat on my side of the bed, gently nudging me while leaning over me. Half asleep I asked, what’s going on and he whispered more terrified than I ever heard him, “someone has a gun and they’re outside”. If you’re not instantly awake after those words, than something is seriously wrong with you… I laid there for a few more seconds and rolled out of bed, making sure I made as little noise and little movement as possible. I crawled away from our bedroom window out of any sight where I heard the noise coming from. A crouched down next to me and I asked him, what happened.
He said he heard a huge explosion that shook the entire room. The window glass was vibrating and his first thought was that someone had an accident on the street in front of the hotel but then he heard several pop-sounds which reminded him of shots (growing up in Texas he knows what that sounds like). After the second shot, he woke me up, that’s when I heard the last pop-sound. I heard people yelling and loud banging on the door, not on ours, which if you feel like your life is in danger is a huge relief. We were crouched down for a while, A called the hotel owner who didn’t pick up and as A was calling Australia’s 911 equivalent, 000 btw, we already heard sirens and saw red lights. At this point we both felt instant relief. The windows in the apartment were milky and not see through so all we could see and hear were shadows and lights and voices without faces.
Eventually A got through to the owner and I am still impressed how calm he sounded, which – of course – cannot said for the owner. She was living her worst nightmare: a car in her parking lot was on blazing fire, threatening her hotel to burn down to the grounds while her guests were sound asleep on a non assuming Thursday morning. She assured A that no people were harmed and that other than the commotion, we were safe especially because the fire brigade already had the fire under control.
No easy sleeping that night…. The next morning the owner told us that supposedly a bunch of kids targeted a random vehicle, thinking they wouldn’t be caught (but she had two cameras installed and the camera has caught some footage of the perpetrators). The police said, that the kids were most likely under some kind of influence and that the crime scene was not to be touched. The popping of the tyres was most likely what A perceived as gunshots and the explosion was what ever these kids threw into the vehicle that eventually blasted all the glass from the vehicle meters away. No physical harm and no-one suspects any foul play i.e. that the owner of the vehicle, an unassuming man with a small local business, had anyhing to do with this or maybe other hotel businesses were showing their claws. That seemed very unlikely giving how small the hotel was and even then, there are other ways to let someone know that you’re unhappy. The vehicle was not to be touched or moved and it looked too real, if you know what I mean. Tyres were melted, everything was black and you could see where exactly the fire started and where it hadn’t gotten to yet. The tree behind the car also showed signs of the fire… Seeing something like this, as a morning reminder of past nights happenings, robs you of your own sense of security and safety. It’s a sad sight, showing you that you never know when or if something like this may happen even in the smallest of towns.
Before we left for Australia, A’s mom reminded us of the saying that everything in Australia may kill you. This goes to show you, that the scariest things are still human-induced, even on the country side in Australia. This has up to date been among the scariest of encounters in both A’s and my life. No-one got hurt, thankfully, and that’s a huge relief! But that was too close for comfort for anyone involved, so please, don’t be stupid. Don’t do stupid things like this and make sure that you don’t put anyone at harm when you are acting stupid… And also, don’t be scared. The world is a scary place but we cannot hide indoors hidden away from the wonders of this world. We could have chosen to stop our trip and just go home, but neither of us wanted that. This is just one ugly side of traveling, seeing things you didn’t imagine and are appalled by but it’s also what makes the most amazing encounters even more beautiful! So, go travel the world, experience what it has to offer, be fierce and enjoy what is out there!