Goodaye all, back into Mt Isa yesterday from Darwin, where it was nice and warm and muggy for all you southerners freezing your bits off. A bit of a drive with three trailers, lots of photos and some realisations. I stopped at some roadhouses and some truck bays and some new green reflector bays, but was talking with a driver at Truck Central, the big new roadtrain site at Wishart and he said his wife had come up for a trip and made a comment.
A moment aside here, what a good site, plenty of room for parking up to triples, a loading ramp, (which I used to double up trailers) and when I suggested it was good BP had built it, some one said (and I tried to ring, but will confirm) that yes BP built the fueling site, but NT Dept of Infrastructure supplied the funds/land for the parking. This has been done in Queensland before at Miriam Vale, but then the servo burnt down and some truckies complained the vanners took it over. It is a better way to get what we need and will be pursued much further.
His wife had said, “How come all the truck bays have bins and nothing else and all the car/caravan bays have toilets and shade and tables?” I had looked at some truck bays, stopped in one to make a phone call and thought they looked big enough, were paved and mostly (a few were missing some signage and the skidmarks confirm others miss them too) well signed. I looked at the many bays for caravans, mostly with NO TRUCK signs and thought they looked OK too.
But once this subject was raised, I looked a lot closer on the way back south. Many years ago, I did a trip up with Simons National Carriers and recall then, the one place with a toilet sign, you could not even park a semi on the shoulder to go and use the loo, let alone a triple and it seems, little has changed. There may have been one southbound caravan bay, where you could park safely on the shoulder, but most not.
So where do truckies go to the loo????????? How can they build some for them and not for us? Yes we can go to truckstops, but so can all the others, caravans have their own showers and toilets in some, but I am yet to see a truck with a toilet, but is that how far removed the road managers are from reality, that they think trucks have toilets?????
So I will be contacting NT Transport and Infrastructure with a list tomorrow on my way south. There are some big gaps. Next truck bay 75K etc, there were only two green reflector bays, but by magic a few more appeared over the last couple of days, and toilets. From Mt Isa to the border, signed stopping bays at least filled the gaps between truck bays, but north from Augathella on the way up I had a strap come loose and was looking for a spot to stop for kilometres. Asked another driver to be told of a spot completely unmarked, but you can turn a triple roadtrain in there, yet wouldn’t even know. That too now has some green reflectors.
So TMR Qld will also be getting a call, but I did try that last week and spent over 30 minutes on the phone till it dropped out.
But then there is the far bigger subject and problem, why are we going backwards with truckstops? I think the blame lies with Woolies and Caltex when they started to build in shopping centres, that became their focus, then Coles/Shell tried to compete and then shut every one of their truckstops, including in Mt Isa which now has bugger all. So now Caltexs such as Yamba, Nebo, Longreach, Wyong, Yarroweah and others have over the last few years, closed their kitchens and we are left with take away crap. But who delivers every single thing they sell, including their fuel and yes, in the suburbs there is one on every corner, but Mt Isa, Longreach and other towns that we supply, now don’t care about us!
It must be said, BP has grown their sites, but even at Ballina they only have takeaway, no kitchen and I can only hope, that is a single change, not their future plans and yes, I have already had that discussion with them. I rang and complained to Shell before, I have had many discussions with Caltex re Longreach and other sites, but where is it all going? Like in covid, how the hell are we supposed to stay fit healthy and not get fatigued, when we can’t get good food, and don’t have suitable places to get good sleep? Is it simply cost cutting, we can get rid of staff and bugger the truckies, they can eat what we dish up? What do you think and have you made your views known to any of the trucking associations or the fuel sellers. Who does it best now, is anyone filling the gaps? Till next week, Safe travelling, Rod Hannifey.