Tolls = anger. Roadhouse = memories. Gems = riches. Barge fees = fury!

Grey nomads tolls

Halloooo Mailbaggerrs! Well, it’s been a while, which means the messages from our magnificent membership have been piling up. So, without further ado, let’s rip into the mountain of momentous, mind-blowing musings.

As usual, you’ve been happy, you’ve been sad, you’ve been upbeat … and you’ve been ANGRY!

Our story warning that Infrastructure Australia was recommending the introduction of more toll roads had John feeling the latter.
“We pay a thing called taxes in order to have high quality national roads,” he stormed … before revealing his cunning plan to avoid the ‘horrors’ of roads like the Bruce Highway. “We follow the small country roads and tracks where the air is fresh, the scenery great and there is virtually nil traffic.”

Wow! That’s poetic. I’m with you John, I’m with you.

Cupie was in agreement.
“I wouldn’t pay a toll where there is any reasonable alternative,” he said. “You only need look at the proliferation of non-viable toll tunnels in Brisbane to see the folly of taking this path.”

This past week has also seen us reveal that Oodnadatta’s iconic Pink Roadhouse has been sold, ending a decades-long era where the pioneering Plate family have been at the helm. It’s clear their contribution in putting this dusty Outback community firmly on the traveller’s map will long be remembered.

Pink Roadhouse sold

The Plate family legacy lives on

“The roadhouse is on my personal bucket list and, if it wasn’t for the years of love and care by The Plate family, it would just be another stop on the way from here to there,” said Trevor L. “The Plate family took it to another level as the destination, as well.”

Wyn W was in reminiscent mood. “My abiding memory of a visit to the Pink Roadhouse in 2002 is a pink canoe ‘parked’ near the main entrance – an incongruous sight in the desert and typical of outback humour,” wrote Wyn. “Good luck to the new owners.”

And Nell was also grateful to the Plates for ‘a wonderful stop in the desert’.
“The work that has gone into the roadhouse and all the signs along the roads helping travellers on their way is terrific,” she wrote. “I am sure the Oodnadatta community will miss the family … best of luck Plate family in your future endeavours.”

And that, Nell, is a sentiment that will be echoed by thousands upon thousands of grateful travellers. What a place, what a family … and what a legacy!

Now then, the news that a lucky grey nomad couple had unearthed a spectacular zircon valued at around $15,000 had one or two of you reaching for your sieves and shovels. It also brought back a few memories for those of you who have been lucky in the past.

Where's them thar zircons?

Where’s them thar zircons?

Lesley W recalled spending a couple of weeks in the Sapphire area of Queensland back in 2008/9.
We spent a lot of the time in Rubyvale at Willy’s Wash,” wrote Lesley. “We found loads of sapphire chips, and some small zircons, but our best find was a sapphire ‘bomb’ of around 130 carats.”
Jeepers, Lesley! Did you sell? Did you sell?

As if!
“We had it cut and polished in Rubyvale and the two halves mounted as pendants, one of which I wear all the time now.”
Aaaahhhh! And it all goes to prove ladies and gentlemen of the road that wonderful, happy memories are truly priceless.

Ahem. Now we’re all feeling soft, sentimental and soppy … it’s time to get ANGRY again!

The recent announcement that the cost of a single vehicle taking the return 40-metre barge trip across the Jardine River in Cape York has risen from $88 to $129 got the keyboards rattling.

First off the mark was an unimpressed Jimbo.
“Highway robbery, indeed!” he exploded. “If they could, they would put Pokies on the Barge!”

Radar agreed that the rise was “a big jump”.
And he asked: “What are we going to receive as extra for the increase?”
Now, I don’t claim to have any inside knowledge or to be a spokesperson for the barge operators, Radar, but I feel I am on fairly safe ground when I answer that for you. “Nothing, my old mate. Zilcheroonie.”

Greg shares my skepticism. “I suppose for the extra fee they will give you more free camping,” he suggested sarcastically. “Yeah right! Rip off to a captive market. I don’t know of anyone who has gotten that far up the Cape to turn around so close to the tip because of this charge!”

Well, I think I know someone who could be the first. The potentially perfectly named ‘Agro’  was happy to weigh into the debate.
I would not cross it even if they paid me!” he declared ….  and I believe him.

Okay, okay, mighty Mailbaggers I know. Enough with the angst. Let’s try to end this comeback column on an uplifting, cheery note. Aha. The very thing. Our story about a government funding boost bringing a much-needed new base for the Royal Flying Doctor Service (RFDS) in Broome a step closer brought some smiles. Broadest among them was the one worn by Cecily.

“As a traveller I like to take every opportunity to donate to this invaluable service,” she wrote calmly. “Whilst we can endeavour to take care and responsibility for our own safety and well-being, none of us can foresee accidents etc, and the possibility of needing the RFDS …  I wish the service well in getting the Broome facility up and running in the not too distant future.”

Now, that’s about as positive and encouraging as it is possible to get. Thank you for that Cecily … and I hope you write again next week (oh, okay all you angry people can write again, as well. After all, if we don’t get angry, things ain’t going to get better … and it’s kind of fun, isn’t it?)

And on that note, it’s time to say farewell, Mighty Mailbaggers. Adios until next week, amigos. Keep smiling, keep travellin’ and keep those emails and messages rollin’ in.




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