The full title gives you an insight into the content and style of this gritty travel book: Left for Dead in the Outback – How I Survived 71 Days Lost in a Desert Hell. Sounds like the headline from a 1950’s tabloid running alongside “My Auntie’s Cat is an Alien”. It might sound a bit extreme but this is a fascinating book.
I must warn you that this is the least-PC book you will ever encounter. You’ll get the most from it if you read it with the strongest Australian accent you can muster (easy if you happen to be an Australian) and preferably leaning on a bar with a bronzed chap called Bruce serving you a cold beer. Read a few chapters of this and you will feel the sun on your back, the red sand between your toes and hear the gentle swish of the corks hanging from the underside of your broad-brimmed hat. (That last bit isn’t mentioned in the book but I thought it sounded ethnic, romantic and it helps set the scene.)
Abducted in a bizarre fashion
Left for Dead in the Outback isn’t a book for those of a delicate disposition. The language is just what you would expect from a roughty-toughty Australian who has had a colourful life. The narrative hasn’t been scrubbed up to appeal to a wider audience. This is the text equivalent of a chat with a man who has beaten conditions that would have defeated any but the skilled bushman or the very lucky.
Ricky Megee is the chap in question. Day 1 of his ordeal found our hero being abducted in a bizarre fashion and it went downhill from there. He was left to die a horrible and slow death with nothing but the clothes he wore, minus shoes.
He isn’t a natural-born nature boy but he did once watch a TV documentary about survival skills. Having a strong stomach allowed him to eat things that most of us would find unappetising to say the least. Leeches constituted much of his meagre diet. I might, in similar circumstances, have hit them with a brick to stun them before eating… but Ricky is made of sterner stuff than that. Don’t knock it till you’ve tried it. It must, after all, have been a brave man who ate the first egg.
Left for Dead in the Outback is hard-hitting but inspiring. It will appeal to anyone heading for Australia with an adventure holiday in mind. You’ll look at the desert landscape with respect and you’ll not be giving lifts to strangers!
Left for Dead in the Outback
Author: Ricky Megee
Published by: Nicholas Brealey
Travel book review by Chrissie Walker © 2018