Opinion | The Gauge
Recently I had the misfortune of being subjected to some behaviour that has made me lose just 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 and 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, 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 is the majority of people who sped past me were tourists, caravanners and travellers.
Coming to travel and visit in my backyard, use my roads, services, and infrastructure.
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 60km 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 times 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 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 and 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 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 lives with her family on a remote beef property in outback South Australia. You can follow Gillian on Twitter @stationmum101