Blogger Bill from Boggabilla

Travelling sometimes delivers you disappointments of a monumental nature.

Today was just such an occasion.

The Wobbly Boot Hotel at Boggabilla no longer has rooms for the night. Nor does it do dinners or lunch. It was a devastating blow.

Wobbly Boots

So we had two choices – drive through to Goondiwindi and stay in a fancy motel – Goondiwindi being a beautiful and large town by a gorgeous river – or we could tough it out in the Boggabilla Motel, which makes an illegal immigrant detention centre look a five star.

We chose the Boggabilla Motel, because it would be an experience we’d not had before – and the little town looked fascinating. Boggabilla is very close to a large aboriginal mission – and the only white faces in the town (other than Jen and myself) were the publican and the cops, who seemed very busy.

We checked into the motel, then walked back up to the Wobbly Boot Hotel and had a drink. The publican was a lovely lady named Paula, who was constantly selling packets of chips and icecreams to the aboriginal children.

She was very sweet to them – and when one girl was short twenty cents on a purchase, she let her have the packet of chips anyway. (I gave the publican the twenty cents after the girl left.)

Girl at door.2

We then went outside and two cops quickly wandered up, and told us to be careful. They warned us that the aboriginal population would have quickly sized us up, would have known we were at the motel and what room we were staying in – and so we better make sure the room, and the car were both secure.

(I had my big Nikon, and I guess Jen and I both definitely looked like “blow-ins.”)

Red chair

But what nonsense. Why were the cops immediately trying to instil fear in us? To encourage us to see the aboriginal people as a threat? We subsequently spoke to several aboriginal people and they were delightful – shy, sweet, and definitely not threatening!

(In the course of making movies I’ve spent a lot of time in aboriginal communities and working with aboriginal people – even sleeping on a crocodile infested beach once with some tribal elders up in Arnhem Land.)

Boggabilla is a crossroads for trucks shifting freight from all over the state. There is a constant procession of huge eighteen-wheelers that just never stops. Except to eat. And they all eat at the Shell Roadhouse. So that’s where Jen and I decided to eat, too.

We were invited into the Truck Drivers Only lounge – which consisted of lounge chairs and large screen tvs and dozens of framed photos of trucks on the walls. Dinner for me was a mixed grill – $22. I was asked: What do you want with your mixed grill? Veggies and chips, eggs and chips, or salad and chips? 

You can’t have a mixed grill without eggs, so of course I asked for eggs with chips. This is what the meal looked like…

Mixed grill

I’m still feeling sick. But it was an experience.

I wandered around town and took some shots – spoke to some aboriginal girls, Aimee and Tessa, who were really sweet. I gave them my email address and told them to contact me if they wanted the shots, and I’d send them to them.

Aimee & Tessa

Jen and I then drove out of town a ways then down a dirt road to a bridge, where some people were fishing. Had a good chat with them – found out that yella-belly was the best eating fish to catch, and the cod were delicious too but they were in breeding season, and if you were caught by an inspector with cod this time of the year, you’d be in strife.


People pass through Boggabilla all the time, in a rush to get to Goondiwindi, which is a much more civilised town. We could have done that too, as we’ve done in past years, but post Camino, I wanted to break old habits and dig a little deeper into the life in a small country town.

Dinner at the Shell roadhouse with all the truckers was fabulous, even though the meal itself was way too much, and way too fatty. And chatting to Paula at the Wobbly Boot Hotel was fascinating.

She and her husband have been there for eighteen years, and they stay because they genuinely like the local population – and I have to say just in the short amount of time I was there observing the way she dealt with the aboriginal people, adults and children, I can see why she is popular in town.

I figured that having walked the Camino, why not take what I’ve learnt and apply that to my life here in Australia?

Church 2

14 thoughts on “Blogger Bill from Boggabilla

  1. What a delightful read. Somehow it conjured up ‘Crocodile Dundee’ and I always had wondered if names like Boggabilla ,Goondiwindi, Wobbly Boot were just made up names – artistic license. Well, here we have our own Crocodile Bill and Jennifer doing their thing. Food kind of reminded me of the Camino a bit… the ever present French fries with any type of maincourse.

    LOVE the pictures, 🙂


    • Thanks Ingrid!

      yes, it does smack of Croc Dundee a bit!

      The blog was really intended to say that you can do things a bit differently, and stay in the places that others avoid – and really get to the heart of the country you’re traveling through.

      We could have so easily traveled at extra 8kms and stayed at Goondiwindi, which is a safe, clean tidy and very beautiful town. But it was far more interesting, and revealing, to stay at Boggabilla, even though the cops thought we were mad!



  2. 1. I decided to sleep on it to see if the mixed grill with eggs and chips looked any more appetizing in the morning. Nope.

    2. Wait a minute, there’s a Top Gear magazine? What have I been missing!

    3. Love Aimee and Tessa and the church.


  3. What a wonderful story! I love the photos.

    Whenever we in our family come across a situation out of the ordinary or a bit “out there” we chalk it up to “A Cultural Experience” and enjoy/learn from it for what it is!

    Your decision to stay in Boggabilla reminds me of the time when I was back-packing around Europe in the 70’s. We had decided to go to Morocco, but so many told us it was risky, the people were dangerous, we would be sold in to white slavery (!!!) etc. Even though there is a dangerous element in every society I couldn’t imagine how a whole culture could be labelled dangerous. I figured it had to be full of people just like ourselves, working and going home for dinner, mothers of families trying to cope with the ups and downs of every day, men trying to make the ends meet for their families etc etc. So we went and met wonderful people in a fascinating culture.
    Inside we are all humans together with the same basic need to love and be loved.
    I did meet some young women who figured they could experience the “real Morocco” only by sleeping out at the camel market with the camel drivers…..well the consequences were what you could expect.
    It is great that you are consciously applying the lessons of the Camino on your daily life. If we can’t take the Camino home with us, what good is it after all?



    • Hi Debra,

      Others can sometimes unwittingly instil fear within you simply by trying to keep you safe. I would LOVE to go to morocco – one of the countries I’ve always wanted to go to.

      But I don’t think I’d sleep in a camel market! Draw the line there!



  4. Hi Bill,
    Really loved this read & photos – thank you & Jen for stopping in Boggabilla and sharing the experience.

    As luck would have it I’m heading up there next year.
    For as long as I can remember my 80 year old uncle who lives in Armidale goes out to Boggabilla many times a year, often with sons, grandson & friends in tow. Occasionally the women go. He has an old hut and campsite by the river. Fishing, helping Uncle Brian out with the chores, relaxing and enjoying oneself is the order of the day. One of my cousin’s friends was married out there. The descriptions of these trips are always full of stories and laughter and I recall beautiful black and white photos my Dad took when he and my brothers enjoyed one such trip.

    So a few month’s back I invited myself along on their next trip to Boggabilla. Hearing the stories has been wonderful, however I realised I wanted to join in the experience with my family, to be part of the story.

    And besides, Uncle Brian’s damper is legendary it’s so delicious and the only time I drink black tea is from his billy – sensational!

    Those truckies must have cast iron tummies.

    Safe travelling,


  5. Thanks Bill – will be great.

    Am very happy in earthy places – they keep me grounded!
    Nurturing, still, and teaching much their resonance touches my heart.

    Probably why I keep gravitating to my garden rather than to the computer to job search!



  6. Bill – just curious as to whether you made your way through Toowoomba either coming or going on this jaunt? If so, how is the town looking after that terrible flood in 2011? (It was a lovely town before that, I was just hoping to hear it had been restored.)



    • Hi Brendan

      Yes in fact Jennifer really wanted to go via Toowoomba this time. We had a picnic lunch in a beautiful park in the centre of the city.

      Yes, it has been restored, and to my eye there was no discernible damage.

      I was in India when the flood struck. I remember being in the lounge of the JW Marriott in Bombay staring at the tv screenwriter arching CNN footage of the floods, and being totally stunned.

      Early in my career I was a journalist in Brisbane working for the ABC, and I was stationed for a short time in Toowoomba – so I knew the city quite well – and I couldn’t believe that a peaceful hilltop town could get such unbelievable floods.



      • Great to hear, Bill – – thanks for that! I am especially glad to hear the park is restored. Some years ago it was the site of a brief rest stop to call home and enjoy a great coffee and croissant while I chatted with the family back home.

        And I am glad also to hear that an experienced hand was as surprised by the flooding as I was… somehow, I just could not square it with my experience of the geography while it played out in the news.



        • That’s so true Brendan.

          As I say, I know Toowoomba quite well. I grew up in Brisbane, and apart from my working in Toowoomba for a short while, I also went up there for weekend trips etc.

          I always know Toowoomba as being a beautiful garden city up high on the start of the Darling Downs. How could it possibly flood?

          I was stunned when I saw the footage while I was working in India.



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