Travellers warned to follow outback code

Outback code ignored by travellers

News
Broken down by the side of the road recently, South Australian beef producer Gillian Fennell was distressed by the number of travelers who sped past.

Broken down by the side of the road recently, South Australian beef producer Gillian Fennell was distressed by the number of travelers who sped past.

Aa

If travelling in the outback, take it from a local - slow down, stop and check on anyone stuck on the roadside.

Aa

Recently I had the misfortune of being subjected to some behaviour that has made me lose just a little more faith in humanity.

And - no - it was not a barrage of abuse via anonymous social media trolls, or a theft, or an assault.

I had an incident with my fuel pump on the highway on my way home.

Not a single person stopped to see if we (I had two children with me) were OK, or if they could help in any way.

I understand that in this day-and-age, travellers may be reluctant to step out of their car on a remote highway in the middle of Australia for a variety of reasons.

Person-to-person contact may be frightening for some in this COVID-19 world.

And, while highly unlikely, it is technically possible that a 40-something mother and her two children could rob and assault a random traveller.

Perhaps I have become an unwitting victim of the politically correct, pro feminist world?

I mean, I was standing there, with the car bonnet up, head in the engine and I appeared to know what I was doing.

But, at the end of the day, no amount of tinkering with the fuel pump, fuses and battery were going to get the car going and I needed someone to take a message to the next town for me.

I think that what irked me the most was that the majority of people who sped past me were tourists, caravaners and travellers who were coming to visit and travel through my backyard, use my roads, services and infrastructure.

These were the very same people that locals across the outback spend countless hours helping each and every year when they tip their fancy caravan over, get hopelessly bogged in the creek or run out of spare tyres on a dusty dirt track - with no civilization for miles.

The outback is a vast and lonely place. And, while I was only 60 kilometres from my nearest town and only 135km from home, in many cases it can be much, much worse.

There is no mobile coverage where I was (another issue for another time) and UHF coverage is spotty at best - and most of the time, the channels are congested with chatter from tourists discussing the best places to camp, their average fuel consumption and a plethora of other mundane topics that should probably be best left to discuss in person - and not broadcast wholesale across the outback for anyone to listen to.

Those of us who live and work in the bush have an unofficial 'code of conduct'.

We always slow down and assess a vehicle stopped on the side of the road.

We always stop if it looks like women and children might need help.

We are always prepared to give assistance if needed.

And, most importantly, we don't discuss our dietary restrictions, digestive peculiarities or toilet habits over the UHF.

We know that, one day, it might be us who is in trouble - and experience has taught us that what goes around, comes around.

So, if you're travelling in the outback, take it from a local - slow down, stop and check on people on the side of the road - because they might be the difference between life and death for you one day.

- Gillian Fennell, South Australian beef producer - follow at: @stationmum101

Aa

From the front page

Sponsored by