Helene Dancer
Writer, journalist, filmmaker

Population drive


Driving from Australia's biggest city to its smallest town

Roxanne Muller peers out of the smudged glass door of the Foxtrap Roadhouse, her brow furrowed. As one of only four residents of the town of Cooladdi, which lies deep in the outback, visitors are always an event. It’s raining too, which is another cause for consternation. The region has been dry for months, but today rain hammers down onto the modest building covered in faded signage that is home to all four of Cooladdi’s residents; Roxanne and Gavin Muller, and Roxanne’s mother Laurel Seymour-Smith. Usually Roxanne and Gavin’s daughter Christie-Lynn would be here too, but she’s taken on a job at the Thai restaurant in Charleville, a town an hour’s drive away.

Our All-New Mazda2 is also taking a beating from the merciless weather, its Dynamic Blue paintwork splattered with the red mud that stretches for miles in this far-flung corner of Queensland. Roxanne shields her eyes to get a better look at us and I decide to put her out of her misery to bolt the short distance to the motel, arriving sodden at the door. I introduce myself and she relaxes, inviting me in with a shy smile.

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