A Sydney man who ventured into the desert in a luxury Mercedes rental hoping to meet Chris Hemsworth on a new Mad Max movie set says he nearly died in the wilderness after failing to find his hero.
Andy Mai, 23, dropped his car off at a dealership for servicing earlier this month and was presented with a complimentary rental for the weekend.
He decided to “take advantage” of the luxury car and “go on some crazy road trip”.
Initially planning to trek to the Mars-resembling Mungo National Park, about 1000km inland from Sydney, he heard Hemsworth was somewhere in the Broken Hill region to film a new Mad Max movie called Furiosa, slated for cinemas next winter.
“I pivoted my whole itinerary,” Mr. Mai said.
Camera IconMr Mai soon discovered his luxury Mercedes wasn’t cut out for the desert voyage. Supplied Credit: Supplied
The Hemsworth fan then booked a hotel in Silverton, close to the NSW border with South Australia.
Peering across the desert plains from the Mundi Mundi lookout, he noticed an entourage of tents and trucks along the horizon.
It marked the start of where things started to go wrong.
“I heard that’s where they filmed the original Mad Max movie,” he said.
“I saw these trucks going downhill into the desert. I followed one of the trucks; I was driving thinking, ‘Where does this road end?’, and there was nothing, just dirt.
“There was no official road or anything. The sun was setting. The trucks, I couldn’t see them anymore.”
The keen Hemsworth fan decided to retreat as night fell, turning his attention to the people of Silverton in a bid to get a lead on the actor’s whereabouts.
“Everyone was pretty low-key on where the set was, even the bartender at the Silverton Hotel.
Camera IconThe Chris Hemsworth fan struggled to get leads on the actor’s whereabouts. Supplied Credit: Supplied
“One, I think people just didn’t want people barging into the film set, but two, I don’t think the locals had much info,” he said.
When he eventually gave up trying to meet his hero and began the trek back to Sydney, Mr. Mai discovered the luxury Mercedes wasn’t quite cut out for the desert’s dirt roads.
“This car was not built for the desert – 50 percent of the trip was just dirt road. There were so many potholes,” he said.
“I got bogged down three times, and on the third time, I got stuck.”
Mr. Mai was trapped on an isolated dirt road, having not seen another car for “four or five hours”.
“I had no signal; there was no one for miles. If something happens, no one will find out for a few days. That part was really scary,” he said.
“I was putting trees and leaves under the wheels to try and get out. I was trying everything, and nothing was working.
“But then I heard the noise of sheep going ‘baa, baa’, and within 10 to 15 minutes, I saw a kid on a dirt bike … sort of herding the sheep.”
Desperately trying to get the young farm boy’s attention from the road, Mr. Mai eventually struck the aid of the desert kid and his mother.
“After like 20 minutes, he and his mum both come in dirt bikes and help me out,” he said.
“Mud is flying everywhere, into the car onto the roof; we’re all getting dirty.
“Luckily, after a lot of pushing, after 30 minutes, we got the car out.”
Camera Icon Mr. Mai eventually enlisted the help of a local country kid and his mum. Supplied Credit: Supplied
Mr. Mai retreated to Broken Hill to seek refuge for the night, finding all accommodation to be booked out by the film crew.
He eventually found shelter in the office of an old racetrack which offers a camping ground for caravans but was made to sleep on the freezing floor.
“I was driving out to the desert where everyone can camp, but I got a call back from the guy at the racetrack,” Mr. Mai said.
“He said: ‘If you want, you can sleep on the floor and pay me 20 bucks’.
“A lot of caravans were parked there, but no one but me was sleeping on the floor.
“The kids were like: ‘You’re going to freeze to death.’ I was really cold that night.”
The following day, Mr. Mai drove 13 hours straight to return to Sydney in time for a work meeting.
He said the trip “nearly killed” him.
“Usually, I’ll be playing music, and listening to podcasts, but I was focused. All my energy was put towards staying awake,” he said.
“There were so many moments I nearly crashed.”
Camera Icon The adventurer was restricted to sleeping in a tent on the ground. Supplied Credit: Supplied
Returning the damaged rental then led to a series of additional costs.
“Mud was everywhere — in the car, outside,” Mr. Mai said.
“Before I returned it, I took it to the car cleaner … cleaned as much as possible. I thought I’d get away with it.
“But two days later, I got an email, saying: ‘Hey, one, you’ve exceeded the maximum kilometers’ – I went 3000km, and the limit’s only 200km a day – ‘and two, one of the bumpers behind one of the wheels was popped open, and there were scratches.’ So I had to pay a fine for that.”
Mr. Mai doesn’t regret the voyage despite conceding it was disappointing that he never met Hemsworth.
“The lessons I learned were so powerful,” he said.
“Now I know to make sure to take a four-wheel drive out. Now I know to bring lots of water.
“It’s a bit sad I didn’t see Chris Hemsworth, but next time I’m going to make sure I go to a film crew on a weekday and do it during the day, so I can sort of blend in.
“Now I can prepare for next time.”