Boy tried to drive across Australia

SYDNEY • A 12-year-old boy trying to drive from coast to coast through the vast Australian outback was stopped by police more than 1,000km into the epic road trip, the authorities said yesterday.

The child was picked up by local police in the mining city of Broken Hill, around a 14-hour drive from his starting point in the village of Kendall, about 350km north of Sydney, in the east of Australia.

He had been planning to travel some 4,000km to Perth in the country's far west, but was thwarted by a broken bumper that was dragging across the ground, according to a statement from New South Wales state police, Agence France-Presse reported.

"Checks revealed the driver to be a 12-year-old boy (who) was travelling from Kendall NSW on his way to Perth," it said, adding that the boy had been arrested.

Police are conducting further inquiries and no further details were available, a spokesman told AFP.

The journey from Kendall to Perth by car would be a gruelling undertaking of more than 40 hours, traversing the entire country across some of the world's harshest deserts, including the Nullarbor Plain where little more than native animals and small shrubs survive in the sweltering heat.

Australia's official tourism site advises visitors to take six days just to cross the Nullarbor, on a highway famous for its unbending trajectory through the barren scrubland. It also advises drivers to "carry extra petrol and plenty of water and food".

Australia is the world's sixth largest country, with a land mass some 50 per cent greater than Europe, AFP reported.

Earlier this month, an eight- year-old boy in the United States drove about 2km with his four- year-old sister to buy a cheeseburger from McDonald's. The Ohio boy had taught himself how to drive from YouTube tutorials.

Local police were alerted after the boy was spotted driving through the town in a van. Police later said that he did not hit a single object while on his way to the fast-food outlet. His parents were at home sleeping when he took the key to his father's van.

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on April 24, 2017, with the headline 'Boy tried to drive across Australia'. Print Edition | Subscribe