Little Aussie Battlers

When travelling through Australian country towns, remember the locals could really do with you spending a dollar.

“Welcome to Augathella,” an elderly man said as a beaming smile illuminated his weather-beaten face. “We need folks like you in the bush, especially if you’re not afraid to part with your money,” he added with a chuckle. I’d wandered into the butcher’s shop in this tiny Queensland outback town, but what I got was far more than a bloodied slab of beef. “I’ve got king salmon, fresh from the gulf,” the butcher proudly boasted, and it didn’t take much persuasion for me to accept his statement that this was the best fish I’d buy in the outback.

A local customer, a retired shearer who’d had more than a beer or two under his belt after each long day in the woolshed, reckoned that, when the winter tourist season is in full swing, more than 100 caravans and motorhomes pull into the town each and every day. The lure for many travellers is the free camping area beside the Warrego River that, during the drought was as dry as the craters of the moon. “We love to see grey nomads and their caravans roll into town, but although plenty of ‘em stop to spend a penny, most don’t part with a cent,” my new mate bemoaned as the butcher nodded in agreement. That certainly wasn’t an accusation that could be laid at my feet however, for I’d had lunch at the pub and bought some groceries at the general store before dropping into the butcher’s shop.

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