My Mad Max Pilgrimage


The following was a multiple-page piece I wrote in 2000 about my Mad Max-related travels to the UK & Australia.

The site was, known as Road Warrior Forever & was a project by a mysterious woman from Raleigh, NC named Cal (short for California).

She not only stood out for being perhaps the only female Mad Max fan known at the time, but also for the way she approached her fandom.

Her website & graphics were top-notch for the time. Her online homage to Mad Max was deep & spiritual.

Sadly, Cal, whose real name was Sylvie Geoffre, died on January 5th, 2003 after being struck by a vehicle late at night. Read more here.

The online Mad Max community had its gruff & unsophisticated members, so she had her detractors. But as for me, I was a supporter of her work & found it inspiring. When I wrote this article for her site, I tried as best I could to match her style. I hope you enjoy it.

My obsession with Mad Max began in the Summer of 1990, at the age of 15, when I first saw “The Road Warrior” on television. I had happened to record it, and my best friend and I used to watch parts of the movie almost every day, and soon we became Mad Max converts.

It was at least several months before we learned of the prequel, Mad Max, and before we watched Mad Max beyond Thunderdome, although they failed to impress us to the degree that The Road Warrior had.

During the last 10 years of the study of the film, and finding whatever I could in information and reviews, there have been some noteworthy highlights.

In 1992, during my last year of high school, I put together a Wez-like costume for Halloween. The costume required, among other things, getting my ear pierced, getting my hair chopped, and making an embarrassing trip to an S&M shop in San Francisco.

I knew it was all worth it when I rode into my school parking lot in the back of my pick-up truck, screaming, shoulder pads up to my ears, the wind blowing through my mohawk. It was awesome!

My trips to England and Australia have been the fulfillment of a decade of dreaming. It is my travels that signify the highest point of my Mad Max journey, and are thus the subject of these next pages…

There is no conclusion that can be written. This is not the end. Our journeys live on as long as we do. There is still so much one can do to make the dreams break through into reality. I’m not satisfied yet. I don’t think I will be until I am living the movie.

Although “Mad Max beyond Thunderdome” is not my favorite Mad Max film, I still have to admit that visually, it is quite stunning.

The costume designer, Norma Moriceau, catapults her original mohawker costume design to the ultimate levels of creativity and detail by creating the uniforms for Bartertown’s guards. My costume is a replica of the costume worn by Auntie Entity’s main guard, who is seen throughout the film.

I started work on it during August 2000 and finished in time for Halloween 2000. It was all made from scratch: no rentals, no pre-made Halloween toys.

The centerpiece of the costume features a Harley-Davidson horn cover riveted onto a handmade leather belt. The pants are tights over padded football pants.

The shoulder pads, which I was lucky enough to find on e-Bay, are accented with a rubber mat, reflectors, and a specific marker lamp I could only find in Australia.

The mohawk was put together out of a rabbit pelt, a football chinstrap, parts of 3 wigs, and lots of Krazy-glue. The remaining wig sections were used to accent other parts of the costume, and a separate black wig was used for the shoulder pads.

The mask was a modified paintball mask, the lens replaced with pantyhose-covered bubble goggles.

I went to two Halloween parties to see if I could win any contests. I won 1st place at the first party, but, to my dismay, lost to “John Travolta” and “Bart Simpson” at the second party, which was held at a dance club.

Costume contests can be so unpredictable! Mad Max has been such an inspiration, and will continue to be an inspiration for many costumes to come!

Encounter with the Interceptor

With the words, “The Lakes” etched onto a scrap of cardboard, I managed to hitchhike my way down the open, lonely roads of England to the small, tourist town in Cumbria called Keswick.

As I strolled through the town, I found myself wondering how a place so small, so remote could be the home of the world-famous car museum which I sought. The museum was nestled within the humble, cobblestone streets of this English town as if it were a well-kept secret.

I joyfully paid the 3-pound entrance fee and strode through the museum, until my anticipation was met by the dark seduction of the most beautiful Car ever formed. My eyes had seen the glory, but my other senses were screaming with jealousy. Simple sight could not satisfy the deeper yearnings of my soul.

I approached the counter and pleaded that they allow me a closer look, explaining that I had made my journey from America. A man graciously walked me over to the car, followed me over the barrier, and onto holy ground.

I floated around Her in awe, taking it in, lovingly caressing Her flares, spoilers, Her gentle curves. Then, to my sweet surprise, the man invited me to sit inside. So I opened the door, and seated myself in Her war-torn cockpit, on the Warrior’s throne.

I held Her wheel, healed by Her burning touch. I was soothed, comforted, made complete. And I could almost hear Her sigh and shed a tear, as She once again dreamed of His touch, in this alien land.

Heading for Population

Melbourne, Australia. Dressed in black leather pants, boots, and a black t-shirt, with my long, bleached, Thunderdome hair falling to my shoulders, and a week’s worth of scruff on my face, I anxiously awaited for Peter Barton of Mad Max FAQ to pick me up and take me to the local sites.

Our first stop was St. George’s Hospital, where Max’s family and best friend met death. We drove through the busy city of Melbourne to the Spotswood Pumping Station, better known as the MFP headquarters.

We parked across the street, along the water. I looked past the gates, silently, allowing its long-forgotten past to soak through my soul.

We took the Princess freeway West, passing beneath the Maltby overpass, where the spirits of Max and the Interceptor watched us from above. The overpass was demolished shortly after our tour.

We headed for Little River, home of the house ruins, Kirk Bridge, the Toecutter’s hangout, and the many country roads used in Mad Max. Our excursion ended at Avalon Beach, the tiny fishing village where Max’s wife would meet her killer.

The Holy Land

Driving North on the Silver City Highway from Mildura to Broken Hill, the landscape gently fades from gum trees, dried grass and rolling hills, to the barren soft mauve and sage hues of the Australian Outback.

As the brutal brass and pounding percussion of Brian May’s orchestra charged the air with a driven urgency, I caught a glimpse of a dark mound in the distance, rising dimly above the dusty horizon.

Still 30 kilometers from Broken Hill, I wasn’t expecting to see the Pinnacles so soon, or from the road. My eyes were fixed in a lustful stare until I rode into town.

After a quick check of my maps, I rushed for the Pinnacles. Soon after passing the outskirts of town, I was led to an unpaved road.

With the Pinnacles ahead, I was overcome with the revelation that I was on the very road that Max had used to deliver the Rig. Like Max, I paused, stopping to ponder the enormity of what was before me.

As I continued to drive alongside the Pinnacles, doubt and discouragement began to creep in. The hills seemed recognizable, but there was no trace of the valley. Had someone filled it in? Or had I, in my desperation, allowed the wrong set of hills to lure me into their tangled web?

As I took the path up the side of a familiar mound, all was revealed. There was the hidden valley, and the other Pinnacles in the background. Besides me, were the rocks that Max confided in for protection, and behind me, the road He watched through the telescope, the road that I drove in on.

I scaled the rugged slopes, to the top of Max’s Pinnacle, from where the view was even more amazing. I combed the ground, hoping to find something Max had left behind, but found nothing.

I descended down into the valley, only to find a fence blocking my way to the Compound grounds. And so the groanings of a man’s heart are left unfulfilled.

The road to Silverton was a roller-coaster ride through a desert ocean. Carefully examining every hill I overcame, I tried intensely to find the holy mount, and the vast plain that lay at its feet.

Before I could be rewarded with assurance, I arrived in Silverton. I flipped open my brochure. There it was: “Mundi Mundi (Mad Max) Lookout 4km” from town. I rode out again, counting the kilometers on the meter, and finally, I had arrived.

I stood on the hill where Max gave life to the Rig, and where She met Her fate, the hill where Max walked, shotgun in his hand, dog by His side, on that sun-scorched blacktop: the image ingrained in every true warrior’s heart.

Car Show in Adelaide, South Australia

I Still Haven’t Found What I’m Looking For

My bus arrived in Coober Pedy at 6:30 in the morning. I walked down the main street, hoping to find a sign pointing me to the Breakaways. I had no luck, so I tried to circle around and get back into town.

The road I was on dead-ended in the Aboriginal community, so I cut through the homes and hiked up a hill, trying to assess my location. The center of town seemed still quite a walk away.

I climbed over a fence, and as the sun began to rise, I could begin to the see hints of the rusty landscape below me: hills, mines and the rocky gibber plain as far as the eye could see.

As I descended from the hills, the sun brought life to the desert. Before I knew it, a legion of flies surrounded me, like vultures, buzzing around my head. They tried to get into my ears, eyes, nose, mouth, and there were dozens of them sitting on my back.

I tried drinking out of my water bottle without letting any flies into my mouth. I tied my long-sleeved shirt around my head, but it didn’t help, and soon I was helplessly swinging it around me by the sleeves, trying to get a moment’s peace, as I stumbled through what I suspected was private mining property.

I finally made it to the highway that led into Coober Pedy. I walked downtown to the tourist information center, and from there, decided to stay at an underground hostel that also offered a tour.

The next morning, disappointed that I hadn’t found any leftovers from the movie anywhere in town, I decided to go on another walkabout. I walked back to where I had gotten lost the previous day, and all around the outskirts of town.

I walked by many homes, restlessly looking for anything that resembled a Mad Max vehicle. I came to a junk pile at the top of a hill, and carefully inspected cars and debris. The closest thing I found was the remains of an old dune buggy.

After coming back into town for lunch, I decided I had nothing better to do than to walk the 7 km’s to Crocodile Harry’s, so I could take more pictures. I passed a junkyard on the way, and the owner let me take a quick look before he closed for the day, but I found nothing.

When I got to the dugout, I attempted to get some answers from Harry. He told me that he had had Tina Turner’s bra hanging on his wall, but it was stolen just a few weeks ago.

I returned to Coober Pedy, and prepared for my departure.

I wandered the wastelands alone, searching for some remnant, some relic of a time when the machines ruled the highways, but I found nothing. Nothing more than empty mines, red dust clouds, and an endless source of flies.