By Karen Michelmore
Craig Stinear is bending down marking brief lines with a can of white spray paint.
Every handful of minutes, he will straighten up, raise his brown hat and grin as a hefty road train thunders past, horn blaring.
Mr Stinear — or Oolie to his mates — knows most of the old-time truck drivers who pass him on the road out right here, Highway 1.
He is standing in his ‘office’ — a 620-kilometre stretch of dark brown bitumen that runs the length of South Australia’s Wonderful Australian Bight.
It traverses the Nullarbor Plain, all the way to the West Australian border.
“You know, almost certainly my most significant regret in the job was in no way carrying a camera from day one,” he told tonight’s new ABC Tv series Back Roads.
“Just to take images of some of the loads, the oversized stuff and men and women receiving through on monocycles.
“I’ve noticed folks pushing a hospital bed by means of and riding horses and camels via and whatever, in different stages of being pissed and stoned.
“Only a couple of weeks ago I was up here at Nullarbor in front of the roadhouse and a guy pulled up and he wanted to know which way Melbourne was, and I thought ‘well there’s only one road here’.”
On the Nullarbor, every day is different
Oolie has observed fairly much every little thing in his 34 years operating on the remote highway.
He leads a team of six workers who preserve it, and dispose of the abundant road kill. Oolie clocks up about 70,000 kilometres along the road each and every year.
“When I saw a couple of blokes pull up, and I do not know if they were recognized to each other or what, but they had been just getting an all-in brawl on the side of the road,” he said.
“They slid more than the edge in prickles and had been swinging at each other and it looked like they were enjoying themselves.”
These days he is using the white paint to mark up defect spots on the edge of the road — about 20 kilometres west of Ceduna — for somebody in his group to patch up later.
The paint can in his hand rattles as he acknowledges an additional automobile passing via with a slight wave.
“He’s a neighborhood sparky from Penong,” Oolie explains.
‘I saw a truck take out 14 camels with 1 hit’
Usually a day on the road includes a lot of road kill — usually found in the exact same places when unfortunate motorists meet unlucky camels, wombats and kangaroos.
“I saw a truck take out 14 [camels] with a single hit when — shortened the life of the truck a bit in a matter of seconds,” Oolie said, hands in pockets.
“Over the years there’s been very a handful of hit.
“I feel at times in the cold climate they [the animals] will go and camp out on the road and sleep there, exactly where it really is warm, or they feed along the road in the droughts, exactly where there’s a bit of green choosing.”
He disposes of the flyblown carcasses by dragging them off to the side of the road, and letting the eagles and dingos “clean up”.
‘Souvenir’ road sign thefts a continuous headache
1 of the biggest frustrations is folks stealing road signs as souvenirs — particularly the camel and kangaroo emblems. Some individuals even bring angle grinders to reduce them off their posts, Oolie said.
“They’ll get things down 1 way or another if they truly want it,” he said.
When Oolie initial began in the early 1980s, after Australia won the America’s Cup, it was the tiny green and gold highway markers that kept disappearing.
Oolie’s gang punched “bullet holes” into them — much to the chagrin of perform gangs additional down the road.
Some days when you’re up the Bight you are obtaining smoko or lunch, you look out and you have got whales swimming past.
Craig ‘Oolie’ Stinear
“They were going off like hot cakes and we used to just poke a hole in them with a centre punch make it appear like a bullet hole or what ever and they’d travel down the road to the next gang’s region and steal them from there,” he says.
Oolie has lived in nearby Ceduna fairly much his entire life. His nickname comes from a local Aboriginal word that means “tiny kid”.
He describes his property town as “the hub of the universe for people that are born and bred here”.
“I can not see myself going anywhere else as extended as, when I get older I’ve got enough strength and health to be able to pull a razor fish out of the mud and wind my tinny back on the trailer, and catch a feed of fish. That is all I want,” he says.
He reckons his special job is alright too.
“Oh, yeah, I do not thoughts it out here you know,” he stated.
“Some days when you are up the Bight you’re possessing smoko or lunch, you appear out and you have got whales swimming previous and you think some people probably sit in an workplace in the city and they do not see this sort of stuff.
“Thoughts you, there is some days you wouldn’t want to be out there too — [the wind] will blow the milk out of your coffee there on a excellent day.
“But it is a place to perform and someone’s got to do it.”
The eight-portion series Back Roads begins on ABC1 at 8pm tonight.
Topics: road-transport, rural, human-interest, ceduna-5690, sa
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