The only roadhouse in a major transit hub in western Queensland is set to close, leaving truck drivers with nowhere to pull up, use bathroom facilities or get a hot meal late at night within almost 400km of highway.

The Caltex roadhouse on Ilfracombe Road in Longreach will stop trading after January 31 and it’s unclear whether a new fuel company will take over the site.

For decades, the roadhouse has served as a welcome pit stop for thousands of weary truckies on their long, arduous and often lonely journeys across inland Australia.

It offered a chance to rest, freshen up, have a decent meal or a chat with a familiar face.

Truck driver Robert Turvey said he had stopped there almost weekly during his 36-year career.

Caltex roadhouse with a fence up around the bowsers
The Caltex roadhouse in Longreach is the only suitable stop for road train drivers on the four-hour stretch between Winton and Blackall.(ABC Western Queensland: Ellie Grounds)

“The roadhouse was always popular, [even] from back in the 80s,” Mr Turvey said.

“Everybody stopped there.

“We’re doing logbook hours, so you could pull up there in Longreach, have an hour’s break, have a shower and order a meal, and get going again.

“That’ll be gone.”

There are five petrol stations in Longreach, but the Caltex Ilfracombe Road store was the only one that provided adequate parking for road trains and offered drivers hot shower facilities.

“You can’t park anywhere down [at the other petrol stations] and they’re not roadhouses, they’re only service stations,” Mr Turvey said.

“They sell fuel and drinks and maybe a loaf of bread, but you can’t actually get a meal.”

A yellow and white road train with three loads of hay is parked under a blue sky
The Caltex roadhouse is the only petrol station in Longreach with parking for a triple road train.(ABC Western Queensland: Ellie Grounds)

‘Sign of the times’

The closure means there won’t be a roadhouse with road train parking for more than four hours between Blackall and Winton.

Mr Turvey said he was concerned more roadhouses would be shut in favour of unstaffed, self-serve fuel pumps.

“You always thought it would be there forever,” he said.

“That’s a sign of the times, I suppose.

“It’s just doing people out of jobs.

“Hopefully, one of the other fuel companies might look at it and think there’s potential and take it on.”

Storm clouds brew over a petrol station in the outback.
The petrol station has been a beacon of light for weary truck drivers since the 1980s, offering showers and hot meals late at night.(ABC Western Queensland: Ellie Grounds)

In a statement Caltex, which is transitioning to its Ampol brand, said motorists would be able to visit the company’s smaller Longreach store at 55 Duck Street “to access all grades of fuel and diesel products”.

The store operates 7am to 5pm Monday to Friday and 7am to 12pm on weekends.

“Access to fuel via card facilities is available 24 hours a day,” the company said.

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