A British backpacker is recovering from an alleged two-month kidnap ordeal which saw her repeatedly raped and beaten by an ex-lover.
The 22-year-old tourist, who was taken to hospital, faces a wait to return to the UK due to her passport being damaged by the suspect.
She provoked alarm when she stumbled badly bruised and "almost zombie-like" into a remote petrol station in the Australian outback.
After tearfully nodding when asked if the abuse was suffered at the hands of her partner, the tourist left without paying and was pursued by the owner, according to reports.
Police were flagged down during the chase and officers pulled her over near Mitchell, Queensland - finding her with facial fractures and marks on her neck.
Stowed in the boot beneath a pile of clothing was her alleged tormentor.
"I made the decision to follow her because I thought that if I could get the registration number I'd be able to file a report to the police," shop owner Beverley Page told the Daily Mail.
She told police she had been held captive by a man she had met at a party in Cairns and had been travelling around the state in the car since January 2.
It is thought the sabotage to her passport was a means of invalidating it and possibly preventing an escape.
Detective Inspector Paul Hart told a press conference on Tuesday: "It was established they had previously had a relationship but at some point it had soured and he basically deprived her of her liberty and committed a number of offences against her as they travelled around the state.
"What she has experienced is no doubt horrific and terrifying and we commend her for taking the opportunity to speak to our police.
"We have potentially saved this young girl's life. Given what's happened to her, the extent of what's happened over the period of time, anything might have transpired."
The victim is believed to have been in the country since 2015 and has spoken to her family since being recovered.
"She was in a state of shock when she came in, almost zombie-like," Ms Page told the Daily Mail.
"Then she walked in, wearing a black summer dress and said she couldn't pay for the fuel. Tears were running down her face.
"But what struck me were her black eyes. She looked bad."
She disappeared in her Mitsubishi Pajero with 60 dollars' worth of petrol up the Warrego Highway, around 300 miles from the east coast city of Brisbane, Ms Page told the paper.
The suspect, from the Manunda suburb of Cairns, appeared in court on Monday charged with a string of offences, including four counts of rape, eight counts of assault and four counts of strangulation.