They were driving through the countryside, three tourists and their guide, in a white minivan. Dead kangaroos lined the road, lumped like discarded costumes after a masquerade. The sun cut through the grey paddocks and lit them up like Broadway stars.
The tourists had colourful towels wrapped around them, briny from their ocean swim. The guide watched their heads bobbing enthusiastically in the rear-vision mirror, fingers pointing out flocks of emaciated sheep, run-down shacks, beach photos on their cameras.
At Boilingdown Creek, the minivan pulled in so the tourists could have a waterside picnic. They left their towels drying in the sun and went to dip various red limbs into the soupy puddles of the creek bed. When they returned, their towels were as rough and brittle as biscuit. The sun lit their sweat-sheened skin as they ate grapes from a cool-box.
As they prepared to leave, a tall man in an akubra walked by the van, shotgun in hand. He waved to them, eyes scrunched up against the sun’s glare. What are you doing, asked the tourists, unsettled. I’ll kill my animals before the land gets to, he said. He pointed to the tray of his ute, where two sheep lay with pink mouths open. Breaks my heart, he said. Got nothing left.
The tourists watched him wash his hands in the creek. He waved to them again as the minivan pulled out onto the road and headed back to the city.