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Two English tourists, Liz Hunter (Magrath) and Kristy Earl (Morassi), meet with an Australian man, Ben Mitchell (Phillips), at a party, and they decide to spend the rest of their holiday with him. The young trio plans to drive to Wolf Creek, a large crater formed by a 50000 ton1 meteorite, and explore the area.
Upon returning to their car after hiking down to the crater, the group discovers that the car won’t start and, unable to discover the problem, prepare themselves to sit out the night. After dark, a “Crocodile Dundee”-like character named Mick Taylor (John Jarratt) comes upon them and offers to show them to his camp to repair the car. With no choice but to agree, the group allows Mick to take them to his camp, a spot which is apparently an abandoned mining site. In the dark, it is not apparent how far they travel, or in which direction. Mick regales them with tall stories of his past while making a show of fixing the car, claiming the problem to be the ignition coil. His manner unsettles Liz and Kristy, although Ben is less impressed and dismisses the bushman’s tales as bravado. The tourists are offered water, which is laced with drugs that render them unconscious.
Liz awakens to find herself tied up in a shed late the next afternoon. She manages to escape by cutting the cable ties that bind her hands and feet together, and as night falls she discovers Mick torturing Kristy by shooting at her, tormenting her and sexually abusing her.He was threating to cut her breasts off. She sets the group’s car alight to cause a distraction and, as Mick is busy putting out the fire, goes to help Kristy. Liz then attempts to shoot Mick with one of his own guns (catching the bullet in the side of his neck) but fails to kill him, although this is not apparent immediately. The women flee the camp with Mick’s truck (the one he used to tow them at the beginning), as they do so the two realize he is alive after all. They soon stop at the cliff of a ravine and realizing the killer is now behind them, the pair attempt to outwit him by pushing their vehicle off the cliff. After narrowly avoiding Mick, who is now out searching for them, the women return to the camp to steal another car. Liz leaves the hysterical Kristy outside the gates, telling her to escape on foot if she does not return in five minutes.
Liz enters a garage and discovers Mick’s large stock of cars as well as an organized array of travellers’ possessions, including video cameras. She watches the playback on one of them and is horrified to see Mick “rescuing” other travellers stranded at Wolf Creek in almost identical circumstances to her own. This suggests Mick is a serial predator who has snared many others with a similar ruse. She then picks up another camera which turns out to be Ben’s. She watches the footage which reveals that Mick had been following them for some time. She gets into a car and attempts to start it but Mick announces himself with a sinister chuckle and stabs her through the driver’s seat with a huge bowie knife. He then cuts off some of her fingers (mocking her using a pen knife to defend herself), severs her spinal cord (making what Mick calls “a head on a stick”). Mick mentions that this method of torture was used in the Vietnam war.
By dawn, Kristy has reached a tarred highway and is found by a passing motorist. He is subsequently shot dead (a bullet though the head/eye) from a considerable distance by Mick, who earlier claimed he once shot water buffalo from a helicopter. Kristy attempts to escape in the motorist’s car, but the chase is short. As Mick starts beside Kristy he teases her from his car then gets distracted and drives off the road for a moment, but Mick proceeds to shoot out one of her tires and cause her car to crash and roll over. Mick then drives up and kills her as she drags herself from the wreckage. He stows her in the boot of his vehicle along with the lifeless body of the hapless good samaritan and sets fire to the other car.
The action now cuts to Ben, whose fate until now was not revealed. He awakens to find himself nailed to a mock crucifix in a mine shaft. Close by is a cage containing two savage dogs and two mostly-eaten corpses, also crucified. He manages to extract himself and enters the camp in early daylight. From this it could be assumed that the scene is taking place at approximately the same time as Mick is away from the camp chasing Kristy, but the time line of the film is never clear. Ben escapes into the desert, eventually passing out beside a dirt road where he is rescued by two Swedish travellers and taken to safety. The final scene of the film reports, in documentary style, that Ben’s case was not strong enough against Mick and the women’s disappearance remains unsolved; Ben was kept in police custody for four months but was later cleared of all suspicion, and that Ben Mitchell still lives in South Australia. The film closes with an image of Mick walking into the sunset.