Outback Australia can be an isolated and strange place at times, take for instance my experience last year as I drove the back way from Alice Springs to Gidgialpa Station in North Eastern South Australia.
The water pump on my Toyota failed and I found myself in some quiet little town too small to have a proper name. The local mechanic said it would be two days until parts arrived so I booked a room at the local hotel and went to the bar for a drink.
I found an empty bar stool and ordered a whiskey.
“Sorry mate” said the barman, “we’re not allowed to serve spirits. Local by-law”
“You mean a man can’t get a whiskey around here at all?” I inquired.
“Well,” said the barman, “You could try the chemist. He’s allowed to sell whiskey for medical purposes.”
So off I go to the chemist, where I ask for a shot of their finest whiskey.
The chemist frowned, tut-tutted and shook his head. “Whiskeys for medical purposes,” he said. “You must have a prescription. Why don’t you go see Dr.Bury. His place is just up the road. He might be able to help.”
So off I go to the doctors’ surgery.
“Cant help you son,” The doctor told me. “I’m only allowed to write a prescription for whiskey for someone who’s been bitten by a snake. I suggest you head on down to the shire office. The clerk down there keeps a pet snake.”
Half an hour later I’m back at the bar and asking for a beer.
“Couldn’t get a whiskey then?” asked the barman.
“Nah,” says I, “The bloody snake’s booked up for the next three weeks.”