A YOUNG Irish woman has learned the hard way that there are better places to cool off after an argument than the Australian outback.
Kelly Carty Eglington is lucky to be alive after spending half a day lost as the temperature soared above 35C and she suffered hallucinations, dehydration and severe sunburn before she was rescued.
Originally from Coolock on Dublin's northside, Kelly has been in Australia for the past four years, where she lives with her partner Damian Raudino, an Australian.
Yesterday, the 25-year-old spoke of her ordeal for the first time.
The couple were making an eight-hour journey by car from their home in Melbourne, Victoria, to the far north-west of New South Wales where they were due to start work shearing sheep. Mr Raudino is a sheep shearing contractor.
Kelly said that, at around 5.30am on Sunday, the couple had "a bit of an argument" in the car about 100km west of the isolated community of Wanaaring, which has a population of about 75.
She got out of the car and walked into the bush with her three-month-old shitzu maltese dog Charlie to cool down.
But when she turned around she had no idea where the car was.
"Everything looked exactly the same," Kelly, speaking to the Irish Independent from Bourke Hospital where she is recovering, said yesterday.
Mr Raudino reported her missing soon after, sparking a search involving local farm hands and police, who had to travel large distances to assist.
In total Kelly estimated that she walked for around eight hours, having lost one shoe, and wearing only a T-shirt and shorts.
She followed a fence hoping that it would lead her to civilisation but, eventually, with no food or drinking water, she rested under a tree.
"My eyes were playing tricks on me. I would think I had seen groups of people looking for me but really it would be a group of emus.
"I would call out for my boyfriend and think I heard people calling back, but it would really be birds.
"I was sure I was going to be bitten by a snake, I don't know how it didn't happen," she added.
Kelly came across kangaroos, a giant snake pit and other animals as she wandered in the inhospitable outback of New South Wales.
In the end, it was Charlie who helped keep Kelly's mind focused. "I didn't care about myself; I just wanted to make sure my dog was all right," Kelly said.
At one stage she noticed that a predatory bird, understood to have been a wedge-tailed eagle, was stalking the dog and made certain to shelter him.
With sticks that she had gathered, she made an "SOS" sign on the ground before she rested under the tree.
Shortly before 5pm she spotted a plane that had been dispatched as part of the search effort. She took off her T-shirt, placed it on a stick and began waving it in the air.
When she was spotted by the plane she was only 3.5km from where she was last seen.
Kelly will remain in Bourke Hospital until Sunday at the earliest. She is being treated for severe sunburn and dehydration. Her feet are also in bandages after she was forced to walk with just one shoe.
Both she and Charlie are expected to make a full recovery.