With the help of entertaining postie Dave Hammond, Troy Minnett and wife Margie have turned a mail run into a showcase for outback Australia – one of several outback tourist attractions they’re developing.
Story By John Dunn
Troy Minnett and his wife Margie believe inland Australia is a virtually untapped tourist destination and they have set about trying to develop their own part of it. They are certain the attractions are there but regret that the infrastructure, at this stage, is not. They realise the existing facilities need improving, which is why they have purchased the caravan parks at Quilpie and Birdsville and brought them up to a new level. They’ve also turned a deteriorating old hotel in Quilpie into an upmarket establishment, now named the Heritage Inn, with en suite accommodation and a fine dining room; converted a Channel Country mail run into a successful travel operation and initiated a sightseeing venture to nearby towns, and also to Lake Eyre, called Skinny Dingo Tours.
“All of these operations are doing well, with the mail run a good example of how many people are interested in what goes on in the outback and are prepared to come long distances to see what life is like beyond the cities,” Troy says.
Delivering the letters, and along with them the variety of household and station supplies that comes with this service, is another example of Troy’s links with the past. His grandfather, Kevin Costello, ran two of the early mail runs in these parts, to Tobermory and Eromanga, while Troy himself, in his early twenties after two years jackerooing at Thylungra Station, joined the cattle and wool-transport family business, helping his grandfather on runs that took in Adavale, Mt Howitt, Durham and, most significantly, No 77 which is the Trinidad run that they have developed into a thriving tourist operation.
“People staying with us often asked about the mail runs and if it might be possible to come along,” Troy says. “Margie and I put it to Australia Post that here was a perfect opportunity to demonstrate firsthand the trouble they take to ensure that the mail gets out there – and we really mean out there. The organisation agreed, provided that it did not affect the mail service, so we began with a couple of visitors in a station wagon.
“It was so successful that now we have a mini bus that seats 13. We provide morning tea at Alaric Station, lunch at Trinidad Station and an afternoon break by the Kyabra Creek, where storyboards tell the story of the Duracks and the Costellos. There are package rail tours from Brisbane in the Westlander train to Charleville and bus to Quilpie, and we do this twice a week for six months until the end of October – it’s too hot after that.”
Troy charges $159, which also includes a running commentary on the history of the area, how the stations are faring today and an introduction to station owners and managers such as Margaret Peglar at Trinidad, Julie Scott of Budgerygar and Alaric’s Allan Bullock.
This Story is from Issue #96
Outback Magazine: Aug/Sep 2014