It started like any other Thursday. Monique and I had full faces of make-up on and were ready for our trip up to the Belmont Hotel. Bags packed, decked out in civilian clothes, we waited for our driver Paula to pick us up.
As a treat we decided to stop at a restaurant we whizzed past each week — a fabulous Muriel’s Wedding-style Chinese restaurant attached to an old-style service station.
We piled out of the car, looking an absolute treat as we stormed the kitchen to the waitress’s surprise. Dim sims, spring rolls, special fried rice and fortune cookies were thrown into bags and the circus piled back into the car as quickly as it arrived.
With Joan Sutherland blaring in the car, we dived into our assorted goodies. By the time the fortune cookies had been cracked we were passing through Swansea.
I saw smoke in the distance. With the smell of bushfire in the air, the excitement grew. Ten minutes later, we met flames right up against the highway. Fire trucks and police had us stop while they battled the blaze. Flames storeys high, smoke and ash covering the car, we sat and watched, Joan still blaring.
Drivers started to get impatient and got out of their cars to investigate. Being a good Boy Scout, I gave orders to our car to stay put. No one was going up in flames on my watch, although I did jump out to grab a camera from my handbag in the boot.
Monique soon discovered the fire had spread and it was parallel to our car — just 100 metres away. Ash and cinders sprayed the cars as we sat nervously, waiting. Ash floated down from the sky, resting on our car, almost completely covering it.
We discovered through the radio and iPhone internet that firefighters had been battling the blaze all day, as firebugs had lit it three times.
We’d been waiting three hours by the time we were allowed to creep forward. We were so antsy to just move, we didn’t mind. Needless to say, our gig was cancelled and we headed back to Sydney.
After three hours confined to the car and breathing in smoke it was good to fall out at the nearest service station.
Who said being a showgirl isn’t exciting?  Fine dining, travel and disaster — all in a face of make-up. What more do you want?

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