For the benefit of my many overseas readers, I need to explain at the outset what this cryptic title means. Australia is a huge country and even travelling between towns that we would regard as being close can sometimes involves covering many hundreds of kilometres. My recent trip to Phillip Island only took me into two states, my own NSW and Victoria but each way was over 1100 kms. In Europe, for example, you could travel that same distance and have covered four COUNTRIES so there are some peculiarities of travelling here that are unique to Australia.
Since this is the case, one of the main causes of road crashes and the subsequent deaths and injuries that are part and parcel of them is fatigue. Now the “Road Safety” “experts” want us to think that speed is the cause of ALL crashes because they can use that assumption to raise copious amounts of much-needed revenue by taxing speeding motorists. But it’s not. The #1 cause of road trauma is fatigue; drivers travelling long distances on the open highway without being physically or emotionally prepared for what is involved in the process. Just because you can safely drive around town at 60 km/h all year does not mean that you are equally capable of travelling 1000 kms on the highway at highway speed.
Now it must be said that, in the last couple of decades or so, authorities have started to recognise and acknowledge that fatigue is a factor in road crashes and, having recognised this fact, they have been dragged, kicking and screaming to the table where they have had to devise some measures that can ameliorate the problem. One way that they have tried to get a grip on the problem has been a concerted campaign to convince drivers that they should only travel for two hours, maximum, on the highway before stopping and having a break. Now we all know that this is right, after all, as motorcyclists, we are pretty much all REQUIRED to do this by the tankage of our bikes. And even if we could ride further, by the time two hours is up, we feel like we need a break anyway.
The catch-phrase here is “Stop, Revive, Survive.” and it makes the best of sense. With that in mind most state instrumentalities have rolled out roadside rest stops, usually equipped with a set of toilets, some chairs and tables and space for tired drivers to stop, stretch, and refresh themselves. And the message IS getting through which is a really good thing. Some rest stops are pretty basic and some go a bit further, having gas or electric barbeques, water tanks to allow travellers to top up their water bottles and plenty of shade for those hot, Australian summer days.
As well as that we have seen the institution of so-called Driver Reviver stations, usually located at roadside rest stops. During the busy months, mainly Summer, and on holiday weekends, local service clubs like Lions, Rotary, etc will set up refreshment stands where tired travellers can pull in, use the usual facilities but also have a free cup of coffee, tea, hot chocolate, some biscuits and a refresh of the internal body as well. Usually the “free” means that a gold coin donation is sort of expected but, hey, who would object to that?
Of course the local service clubs are simply not set up to be able to do this on a permanent basis but it’s sure good to be travelling and be able to pull over, have a pit stop and get some nibblies as well. There is always one in the rest area on the Hume Highway just north of Yass and I am a regular customer each year on the way home from the Island Classic. The fact that I usually pull in there around 0200 in the morning makes no difference, there will be a couple of people there serving tea and coffee and a chat to break the journey.
Now it’s about 220 kms from my place to Canberra and I did the run yesterday, going down to Grub’s place to pick up Goldie. There are plenty of servos along the way, but, once you leave Goulburn, it’s pretty desolate till you hit the outskirts of Canberra and by then you’ve already exceeded the self-imposed 2 hour limit.
So, Imagine my surprise yesterday when, as I was approaching the Kevin Wheatley VC rest stop along Lake George that I saw not only the usual official Rest Stop signs but also some smaller ones advertising coffee, food, and other stuff. Now you need to be careful along the highway because there are often “Driver Reviver Ahead” signs but, when you pull in you fins that the Driver Reviver only operates during peak holiday times. But I was hot and a bit weary, so I pulled in anyway, at least I needed a pit stop anyhow.
Lo and behold, there in the car park was a little shipping container with signs up outside and, as I stepped in the door, a comfortable sofa and a friendly young man who was more than happy to make me a coffee. 10 minutes and pleasant conversation after, I was back in the van and on the road with an excellent flat white (only $4) and another little tit-bit of information for future reference whenever I travel the Federal Highway.
In fact, I enjoyed the coffee so much that I stopped in on the way home, had another coffee and had a good chat with the owner. Apparently he leases the space from the RMS who were anxious to have a permanent driver reviver along the lake and the rent is very small, he informed me. Funny, he also said that a local council “officer” had come in one day and told him he was breaking the law and would have to move because he was operating a business without council permission. When he’d left the owner contacted RMS who told him that the council had no jurisdiction over the rest stop because it was RMS property! “If he comes back again,” the RMS official said, “Just tell him to bugger off!” I laughed; I just love seeing petty local bureaucrats being discomfitted.
So, tuck it away for future reference, the Warrant Officer Kevin Wheatley VC rest stop along Lake George. That’s it in the picture above. Oh, and the somewhat pretentious name? It’s a great story, actually. The highway between Canberra and Sydney is known as the “Remembrance Driveway” and is dedicated to the memory of Australian service men and women who have served with conspicuous gallantry in our armed forces in time of war. The poplar trees that line the road have also been especially planted and are maintained as part of this memorial effort. If you’d like to know who Warrant Officer “Dasher” Wheatley is, follow the link below.
Driver Revivers? I love them.