In Broome, Western Australia, 1999, two British tourists, Liz Hunter and Kristy Earl, are backpacking across the country with Ben Mitchell, an Australian friend. Ben buys a dilapidated car for their journey from Broome to Cairns, Queensland via the Great Northern Highway.
The trio makes a stop at Wolf Creek National Park. Hours later, they discover that their watches have stopped and the car will not start. After dark, a man named Mick Taylor comes across them and offers to tow them to his camp to repair the car. The group goes with him to an abandoned mining site several hours south of Wolf Creek. Mick regales them with tall stories of his past while making a show of fixing their car. He then gives the group water which causes them to fall unconscious.
Liz awakens gagged and tied in a shed. She breaks free and hears Mick torturing Kristy in a garage, and witnesses him sexually assaulting her. Liz sets the now-dismantled car on fire to distract him, and goes to help Kristy. When Mick returns, she shoots him with his rifle, the bullet hitting him in the neck. The women attempt to flee in Mick's truck. Mick stumbles out of the garage and shoots at them before giving chase. The women evade him by pushing his truck off a cliff before returning to the site to get another car. Liz leaves the hysterical Kristy outside, telling her to escape on foot if Liz does not return in five minutes.
Liz enters another garage and discovers Mick's large stock of cars and travellers' possessions, including video cameras. She watches the playback on one of them and is horrified to see Mick "helping" other travellers stranded at Wolf Creek. She picks up Ben's camera and notices Mick's truck in the footage; he had followed them long before they got to Wolf Creek. She gets into a car but Mick appears in the backseat and stabs her with a bowie knife. Liz crawls out and he hacks her fingers off, then severs her spinal cord, paralyzing her. He interrogates her as to Kristy's whereabouts.
By dawn, Kristy has reached a highway and is discovered by a passing motorist. He attempts to help her but is shot dead by Mick with a sniper rifle. Mick gives chase, prompting Kristy to take off in the dead man's car. Kristy sideswipes Mick's car into a ditch when he pulls up alongside and begins to get away, but Mick emerges and shoots out her back tire causing her in turn to fall into a ditch. She attempts to crawl away, but is shot dead. Mick bundles her body and the dead motorist into the back of his car and torches the car.
Ben awakens nailed to a mock crucifix in a mine shaft. He extracts himself and enters the camp in early daylight. He escapes into the outback, but becomes dehydrated and passes out beside a dirt road. He is discovered by a Swedish couple who take him to Kalbarri, where he is airlifted to a hospital.
A series of title cards state that despite several police searches, no trace of Liz or Kristy has ever been found. Early investigations into the case were disorganised, hampered by confusion over the location of the crimes, a lack of physical evidence and the alleged unreliability of the only witness. After four months in police custody, Ben was cleared of suspicion. The film ends with Mick walking into the sunset with his rifle.
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