Marlborough/Sarina Rd,also known as the “Horror Stretch”

holidayroad@y7mail.com Abandoned, Places of interest, Travel Experiences 85 Comments

Years ago the Marlborough/ Sarina road was the only  hwy between Rockhampton and Sarina,it was branded the ” Horror Stretch” because of the many fatalities including murders during a period of time. Another name that was used was “The Crystal Highway” named that because the amount of windscreen’s that would end up smashed.

In 1985 the Bruce Hwy between Sarina and Rockhampton was completed so virtually overnight the old hwy became abandoned  by the hoards of traffic that once used it!

As a kid we’ve both  traveled on this road,but have never done so since traveling Australia,so instead of taking the normal route along the coastline we saw the turnoff at Marlborough and took it as an opportunity to explore a different area.

We had heard a little about this highway and some of the stories that surfaced weren’t that pleasant ,not just from the goings on that happened a few decades ago but what also went on in the history of the land and the ruthless killings of native Australians.
Just as we were  leaving Marlborough on dark, a black cat ran across in front of our path,not being terribly superstitious people we did though start doubting why we were taking this stretch.

This highway takes you through allot of scrubby floodplain plus a few hills and then toward the Sarina end after the range it opens out into cane fields,the road is narrow and bumpy, full of large and small roo’s and of a night a little eerie.
You can tell this once was a busy hwy ,the whole 250 or so klms use to have 4 fuel stops, but now-days  only one of them remains open.Not too far into our journey was an old roadhouse,once abandoned but now used as someones residence and further along from that roadhouse is where we pulled up for the night by yet another roadhouse with an adjoining motel.

So being parked up beside an old Roadhouse and Motel of a night,what’s the first thing the kids want to do?  go on a night tour!
Every place no matter how old always takes on a eerie feel to it when its abandoned,so it really set the scene for some screams and anticipation of what may have jumped out to give us all a fright.

By day it has a somber feel to it, kind of sad to see what lay in ruins from vandals making a mess of both buildings.
Not sure what the place was called,there was no sign apart from the faded word Motel painted on the front of the building and a few other animal murals painted over the other walls.Each motel room was decorated in brightly coloured carpet and a matching wall paper,really putting the whole place into that 70’s era.
Out the front of the Motel inscribed in the once wet concrete was a couple of names,one person called Richard from south Australia with the date 12/9/70, taking it back to the decade when a few murders and disappearances happened along this lonely highway.
We are not sure what the story is behind this place,all we know is that it once was a busy Motel/fuel stop and like the other two road houses,it also came to its demise once the number of travelers dwindled over the years, if only the walls could talk I’m sure this place would have plenty of stories to tell.

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The driveway entry into the now abandoned Roadhouse/Motel

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The Motel that’s seen far better days

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Grass now covering the front slab where vehicles would have once pulled up for fuel

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Front entry

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Room number 7

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A broken old cot still sitting in one of the motel rooms

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Richard from South Australia

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Mural painted at the front entry of the Roadhouse

 

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What looked to be an old BBQ area

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Night time tour

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 Further on up the road out the front of the gates to a station and sitting  in a small park is an over sized torch monument in honor of the 1956 Torch Relay, the locals call it the Ice cream Cone,it does kind of resemble one!
Back in 1956 in that area and under unique conditions the transfer of the Olympic Flame took place while on its journey to the Olympic Stadium in Melbourne.

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LOTUS CREEK ,  The only roadhouse left along this stretch of hwy that’s remained open since the new hwy was completed in “85”  It was originally used for the military as a stop off for repairs on their trek from Townsville to Rockhampton but now owned by Sandy who has been there for over 30 years.If you find yourself along this stretch do stop in ,even if its just to say G’day or maybe stay a night or two, he’s a great bloke and knows the area and its history well. Available are powered and unpowered camp sites $20 for power and $15 for unpowered,there’s a pool down the back plus a creek which you may be lucky enough to spot a platypus in.

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After passing through mainly cattle country and open dry scrubby landscapes we didn’t expect to see a Koala on the road.
Had to look twice when we noticed what we thought was a small wallaby by the roadside,slowed right down and worked out it was a Koala Bear ready to venture across the road in front of us! We’ve seen Koalas in the wild but never one beside the road ,we waited for him to cross and safely get up a tree.

holidayroad@y7mail.comMarlborough/Sarina Rd,also known as the “Horror Stretch”

Comments 85

  1. Ted Wrathmall

    Great story, Pete and Allison, great photos as well, been on that h’way way back, when we did inland to Mt Isa, across to Townsville and back to Brissie, we had a windscreen protector on 🙂

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      1. Nigel Clarry

        Hi and WOW!
        My Father John Clarry (deceased) built the Lotus Creek (ESSO) roadhouse in 1969.
        I must show my 73yo uncle David this blog of yours. He also built and extended servos.
        Grandad (J.W.Clarry Constructions) started the oil company work then the sons took over when he retired.
        Thanks for the photos, I must do the trip again myself this year. Nigel

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          holidayroad@y7mail.com

          Sorry to hear about your dad Nigel and Thanks for your comment,we love hearing from people like you and the history about the area,very interesting Thank you!

          1. Nigel Clarry

            Sorry, made a mistake my older brother has informed me, the ESSO Dad built was at Stockyard Creek on the stretch and one thing I do remember was the hill in the distance which must be Mt. Bora.
            Now found out after calling Lotus Creek that it has been long closed and it looks like you might have stayed there, is this correct? Are those photos the old ESSO and Motel at Stockyard Creek?

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            holidayroad@y7mail.com

            We “Think” the Esso was located North of Lotus creek. That one has been completely demolished. The one we stayed at was South of Lotus creek. There is also another one further South that someone lives in but think that may have been a Shell.
            It’s been a while since we were there so don’t take our word for it. The best thing would be to ask Lotus Creek if the Esso was North or South.
            Cheers Peter.

          3. Ian Mann

            Gidday mate, somehow or other I stumbled across your blog. I travelled frequently that stretch of road from 1969 to 1977 in the later part of these trips I was a country copper in the mountains north of Townsville and on the holidays took my family south to Brissy or Newcastle to see our respective families. This area certainly had its personality and eeriness to say the least. The Lotus Creek servo was a feed and fuel stop where I would fill up jerry cans and grab a bite. Good story and I am sure your family enjoyed it. Regards Ian

          1. Nigel

            Hi,
            wish I did but I don’t actually have any as I was 6 or 7 when Dad built the ESSO
            Found out through my uncle that he actually ran the servo for some time after, long story involving another woman other than my mum!!!
            Apparently he wanted to take me to live there which might be my memory of going to the one horse school for a short period. My mother made short shrift of that idea she told me, demanding I was brought home to Greenslopes!
            He died 10 years ago and am not sure if there may be some in his stuff which is packed away in a garden shed.
            I might just have a search in the near future. If I knew there were I would post them for sure

          2. Judy Baldwin

            Thanks Nigel…..would be great if there were some around……..never know you may find some oneday….heres hoping….cheers Judy

    2. bevan pidgeon

      am in the process of buying the old roadhouse ( barmount roadhouse) and living a self sufficient lifestyle . absolutely heartbreaking to think that some people could get a thrill out of destroying things the way they have

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        holidayroad@y7mail.com

        All the best with the purchase,it would be great to see the place cleaned up! Always upsetting to see interesting old places like that be destroyed by vandals,honestly why do they bother.Thanks for letting us know

  2. Sandy Petrie

    Thanks for the great publicity Peter and Allison hope to catch up with you when you travel back this way

    Sandy

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  3. jessie pallanza

    my parents Bert n Joyce Clarke ran the Connors river servo just north of lotus creek on the bank of the Connors river,, this was a fabulous place to raise our families,, in its heyday, ( from 1972-83,) then some smarty decided it would be a good idea to put up flood gates and open a new all weather ( big joke) highway on the coast, this sent every business on the old bruce highway between Sarina to Marlborough to the wall,, thank you very much officialdom….. last year alex and I did the trip back and took heaps or photos like these but I lost them all when my phone sim was corrupted before I could back them up, so cried,,, a big thank you for posting these,, ps the family always wanted to buy the servo back after surrender but it was sold on without notification, no its all just a sad yet wonderful memory..

    1. Bruce Ehrlich

      Jessie, was the servo on the right hand side of the road heading north just before the Conners River?
      I live at St Lawrance and travel that road on a regular basis. There is a property just before the Conners River which looks to have an old “tum led” down building next to the road?

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      holidayroad@y7mail.com

      Sad to hear your family didn’t get the chance to buy the servo back,I’m sure it held some awesome memories.The government by the sounds of it didn’t care what so ever what happened to the businesses along that hwy,no compensation,just nothing….typical
      Thanks for your comment Jessie,I’m sorry you lost your shots from your trip!

    3. Stuart Skeels

      hello Jessie…just read that interesting article. Not too long ago I took a school charter on behalf of Greyhound,from the Clarke Creek Primary School which is about 2/3 of the way down that highway on the May Downs Road turn off, to the Ed. Dept. Schools Camp at the Kinchant Dam near Eton (North).What a great school, & found the teachers; students & the parents I met to be the same. Would do it again anytime given the opportunity.Having
      never travelled that “road” before, it was for
      me as is stated, ‘an experience’. Also stopped
      to re-fuel at the (now) one & only ‘servo’.
      But, & Not as the saying goes trying to “teach you to suck” those proverbial eggs….was wondering If you still had that mobile phone with all those treasured “lost” photo’s on?, – as I noticed you said you’d apparently list them due to the ‘sim’ card self destructing… whereas in most ‘mobiles” that I can recall “owning” (& I’ve had a few- back to the ‘bag & handset’ type & if you recall the Motorola Brick?…) which hadn’t photo facility,whereas even the then ‘newer’ first smaller versions stored their pictures in the seperate ‘micro’
      card…and therefor If you still had that phone should be ‘recoverable’ even now. Anyway, Jessie….just a thought. 🙂 .

    4. Judy Baldwin

      Hi Jessie
      Wondering if there are any photos you or your family have when you lived at the Connors River servo…

  4. Robert Clarke

    My parents owned the servo at Conners river damn I miss that place lots of good memory. 🙂

  5. Joan Auer

    Fantastic story. Has been so long since I have travelled that road, I can’t remember much about it. Definitely putting it on my bucket list.
    Good luck guys

  6. Bel Perry

    I grew up on a cattle station just down the road from this service station, and it was closed down all the years I grew up here. My Aunt & Uncle the O’Rourkes were one of the first families to live on the horror stretch back when it was all brigalow scrub. We lived on “Lietrim” Station which is just pass the Clarke Creek State School turnoff heading towards Sarina. My Aunt used to tell us stories about why the main house was set so far back into the station and it was for safety. As it was such a dangerous stretch of road the house was put in a position where it could not be seen from the road during day or night. They started off in a massive big shed, which had escape doors all through it, should they ever get unexpected visitors. The school bus used to come from Lotus Creek Service Station and was run by a man called Sandy…. 🙂 Lovely Irish or scottish fella who used to make the bus rides quite enjoyable.

  7. Sally

    Great story. Actually My father surveyed that road for theMain Roads Dept about 1940. It was called The Inland Defense Road A road that could be used during WW 2. In case the coast was invaded by the Japenese I was a child at the time and used to hear dingos howl at night Very scary for a 6yr old. My mother taught me my school lessons via the Correspondence School. Head quarters in Brisbane. I would await the Mailman with fear of any mistakes I had made and comments from my teacher
    I was always saddened to hear stories of murders and strange happenings People experienced on the road. A few years ago I took a nostalgic trip over it The deserted buildings certainly look sad !!!

  8. Bill

    Hello, my mother and her family use to run and own this servo. It was called Barmount Service Station. They are the Conaghans . Thanks for the story, so much history. I will show mum your photos and ask about Richard. Thanks again.

    Bill Geiger

  9. wendy

    We used to travel that road when we visited family in Mackay from Rocky when we were kids. My brothers and Iare in our late 30s now. Dont remember much of road.

  10. Dingo

    If this is the motel just south of Lotus creek I believe that might be the old Barmount roadhouse. We spent a lot of our growing up camping and shooting and eventually working on a property not far from the roadhouse. Great memories…

  11. Kath solli

    Hi guys thanks for the very interesting read.I too have very fond memories of travelling that road on many occasions and going camping and pig hunting with my partner and another couple on lotus park, and would enjoy pulling up at the lotus creek servo after a very long, dusty and cold weekend in the bush,to get a hamburger and freshen up.We also used to go to Connors River servo and remember the saw mill and used to stay here also.There was always a beautiful waterhole somewhere for a cool dip.
    There were lots of grain blocks which attracted many wild pigs which was great sport of pig hunting to help the farmers out.
    I also remember of the numerous murders that were committed along that highway in years gone by in particular the family of 4 that were camping on the side of road at one the rivers which really shocked me for a sleepy country area.
    The stretch of road was notorious for hitchhikers which was a very common sight in those days,which my grandmother would often take food to
    The side of road just opposite her house on Range Road.This used to worry me a lot,as I feared for her safety,
    She was always worried for the welfare of the women who would often been seen with babies and small children tagging along beside .
    She never thought of her safety,she always found the good in everybody.

    This story of yours has sparked a lot of wonderful memories for me and maybe will inspire me to take a drive down memory lane some time.
    Cheers kath

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      holidayroad@y7mail.com

      Hey Thanks for commenting Kath,reading your experiences is really interesting…..great memories apart from the numerous murders,we never heard about the family of four.Your grandmother sounds like a sweet lady but a bit of a worry for doing what she did.In our opinion the stretch of hwy is by far more interesting than going the coastal way,I hope one day soon you return for a drive down memory lane.
      Cheers
      Peter & Allison

  12. judy gibson

    travelled this road many times… lots of great memories…thanks for story an great photos….

  13. Valerie Korn

    Brought back some memories. Very sad to see how time has led to places being deserted. Back in the early 80’s, 30 years ago Dave worked at Croydon run by Keith & Barb Millray & then on Yarrandoo run by Cherry’s for a total of 19 years, Valerie (me) for only a year or so on a property called Yatton owned by Purcells. Miriam Purcell used to drive the Clarke Creek school bus. The Barmount Servo was operating back then. If my memory serves me right the motel section had not long closed. Use to buy our beer & take away there and all other needs. I am amazed that Lotus creek is still going and that Sandy is still there. Ron Roth & his wife used to own Lotus Creek and sold it to Sandy. Had some wonderful times at the Clarke Creek Hall & Rodeo grounds to. It was a wonderful community to be part of. We think we might just go back for a drive one day. Thank you for sharing your story.

  14. Michael Mott

    Hi guys, sounds like you are all having the trip of a life time travelling around our awesome country. I know the horror stretch quite well as we used to live in Marlborough and my Dad, Fred Mott used to be the mail man up that way for many years. My uncle Nev Simpson had the run after that. There was a fellow by the name of Vangelder who was in the old Barmount Servo( also known as the halfway house if my memory hasn’t failed me lol) that had a grain harvester and trucks. I worked for him for a while carting grain to Waitara rail and into Mackay harbour back I The mid 80s. Very interesting reading. Good luck and happy trails to you and your family. Cheers Mick.

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      holidayroad@y7mail.com

      Thanks for commenting Mick,cool to read about your memories of the place,the stretch sure has some history!

  15. Ree

    My Grandad painted those animal Murals on the outside of that building. =)
    My Dad grew up spending alot of time there, and hunting on Barmount Feedlot.

  16. Nigel Clarry

    I knew the Cattle station as ‘Longacre’ and the owner or manager? was Ray Anderson.
    Dad acquired the ‘Boss’ dog as it was going to be shot because he became lazy through taking off to the servo for a feed.
    I was around 6 or 7 and went up from Brisbane for a holiday with Dad whilst he was building the ESSO servo.

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      holidayroad@y7mail.com

      Thanks that’s interesting…..that’s one lucky dog, that your dad came along.It wasn’t a cattle dog was it? they love wandering off for that extra feed

      1. Nigel Clarry

        Boss had Bull Terrier and cattle dog, there is a photo somewhere of Dad holding him.
        When he brought him back to Brisbane he killed the next door neighbour’s dog which didn’t go down well.

        Was it Stockyard Creek where you stayed? If so, those ruins are the ESSO on the edge of Longacre station.

        Dad had his own ‘Marlborough stretch’ incident. The story I recall was while he and Gary(his foreman carpenter) went to town late arv for a carton the caravan they were staying in whilst building was stolen by a wanted pair(one a murderer). On the way back they came across an accident (the rest is a bit foggy). The wanted murderer was driving and his mate was dead underneath the land rover. It was dark and didn’t realise it was Dad’s van rolled over down a bank.
        Anyhow, apparently it was a close call from being shot dead, the police got their man and I think Dad may have had to attend court in Rocky as a witness or something, I just don’t remember correctly(probably over the stolen van)?

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  17. alan

    I hitchhiked that road in ’79 after a week or two in Rocky. Walked past a large road sign that had Horror stretch spray painted on it just outside of Marlborough. Picked up a ride with a guy in an old landcruiser heading to Mackay and I drove because he was tired . Got the full history on the way. He had a theory on Deliverance type hillbillies coming out at night and stalking motorists and hitchhikers. I had hitched roads all over S.A. Vic, and N.S.W and I don’t know if it was my imagination but it really was creepy country….

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    2. LiamC

      The guy you hitch hiked with is absolutely correct . It still goes on today . There is an evvil element to the town of Malborough . I have personally heard 2 different tales(in the last 5 years) from travellers passing through that town late at night . Lets just say they feel lucky that they left alive .Never , ever , EVEER

      1. Judy Baldwin

        Are you serious Liamc…….please tell us ……I am familiar with Marlborough and there is no evil element living there that I know of…hhmm

        1. LiamC

          They target travellers who run out of or low on fuel. That’s why their servos are not 24 hr and they are the only fuel for about 100k . They will wait for the perfect target, forcing them to stay the night in their town. Years ago there was even a story on Today/Tonight about them and the service stations. The people who run the service stations in the town of Marlborough were heavily implicated. I would never travel through that area at night. The stories I have heard from close friends about the service stations AND roadstops in Marlborough chilled me to the bone and were told by people I trust who have no reason to lie.

          1. Kessonredman

            The family of pervert who own are waiting and watching u after 9pm then it’s game on ?steal or break in they all jump out and get u …..then they can ring cops, all on camera, I know this because .i was there all night first I knock on ,a side dona. No Answer so I think no ones there, but there was ,six perverts all night watching, but I did not know that until the sun came up. I keep them all ,up all night .i felt that somebody was watching and I was right, I was talking all night giving them shit,see they know, that u need fuel if u drive of f.you run out of fuel. Got something they won’t, like good looking girls. Well there you go disappear. There is so much more to this true story, like a silver truck at 2am .the truck driver, tried to get me to follow him. I new there was no other servo? All part of there crime .Sun came up and guest what six perverts came out and smile at me, I was losing it then ,I said I am coming back,and I am going to blow u all up. Guess what no coppers no notting .try this and see what happens ,I was telling people who were coming in to get fuel. About these sicko. There is more to this story.

          2. Kessonredman

            I did see the today tonight show plus interstate truck drug running speed ..after what happen to me the daughter. Who is the only one that’s talks on camera, and that’s who I seen at 6 am They. Had it all on camera and did not ring the cops .they were Crims like me and did not want the cops involved

          3. Kessonredman

            By the way this happend before they got a new family to run the place. Or you could say they got., nice new family in after I was there…..,I court them out ,…..got people to run the place.not knowing the old family shit like today tonight, I wish I could find that today tonight story again ,the people that own the servo go back 100 years of shit,dad kids. But not the people running it now.. One day the family of sicko will be back. And it will start again..

          4. Laurel Vize

            A relative of mine drives it quite a bit.He drives past certain service stations.

    3. Allan

      The person you hitch hiked with is correct . Deliverance type hillbillies is what haunts the area . I have heard 2 different tales of people travelling through the area at night . Lets just say they both considered themselves luucky to leave alive . There is a great evil in Marlborough still to this day . Both the stories I have heard (from 2 different ppl ) have been in the last 5 years . NEVER RUN OUT OF FUEL AROUND MARLBOROUGH . The fuel stops in their town close at 9 each night . Never travel through Marlborough after 9 pm

    4. Chris Griffiths

      wow scary shit mate ive been travelling that road since the early eighties and travelled the old horror stretch in 1980.on my honda four in daylight i remember stopping for fuel at lotus creek servo and feeling very paronoid there wer a few cars parked up there locals i think yhry sort of just stared at you i got on my bike and didnt stop till i got to sarina i actually felt scared the whole trip on that riad waiting to be shot by a sniper or something lol seriously it had a real bad vibe to ut that road

  18. bruce and carol shaw

    I am in awe that you and your family are having this great opportunity to travel our great country. your kids have the best education and life skills, better than the class room. good luck on being able to spend so much time with your kids and maybe we will cross paths, as my wife and I are travelling melb.–Darwin to broome– down to perth and across the nullabor to Adelaide and home to melb. I will follow your journey via your web. good luck to you all.

  19. bruce and carol shaw

    I am in awe that you and your family are having this great opportunity to travel our great country. your kids have the best education and life skills, better than the class room. good luck on being able to spend so much time with your kids and maybe we will cross paths, as my wife and I are travelling melb.–Darwin to broome– down to perth and across the nullabor to Adelaide and home to melb. I will follow your journey via your web. good luck to you all.
    bruce and carol shaw

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      holidayroad@y7mail.com

      Hi Bruce and Carol,
      Thanks for leaving a message,we look forward to maybe crossing paths with you both! Take care and Happy Travels

  20. Mary Toman

    I I worked at Barmount cafe, service and motel in 1968 1969. It was owned by the Ayles family who were still there when I visited in 1978 The photo of the girls walking away from the camera is the back entrance and the staff quarters. The Ayles lived at the front of the building (Sarina end) We followed a path from the main building passed the right to the milking yards. One condition of getting a job was being able to milk a cow. There was a large power plant d

  21. Mary Toman

    I worked at Barmount cafe , service station motel in 1968 1969 . My bosses were the Ayles family who I visited there in 1978. The photo of the girls walking away from the camera is the back steps from the kitchn on the right was our quarters. Down the back was a power plant we called Big Bertha. Further down was the milking yards, to get a job there you had to be able to milk a cow. Many memories shame to see it as it is now .

  22. Nathan Scoffin

    Great article. Just drove that road today twice today (after years of sticking to the Bruce hwy). I really enjoyed it and reading your story and others comments certainly fills in some of the blanks. Our country certainly has some stories to tell, we just need to take the alternative roads to the highways and amazing adventures can be had.

  23. Trevor Sorenson

    Wow! I only hooked into this Blog site late last night, and was literally blown away by it. As a regular traveller on that full section of Highway commencing from the week after Easter ’69 through until the new Highway was opened in ’83, I can attest to the feelings and reasons as to why it became known as the “Horror Highway”. Some of the bizarre happenings along the section from just South of Marlborough through to Sarina included; Circa ’66 – the double shooting murders of two men just South of Marlborough, 1966 – the double shooting murders of two men at Funnel Creek, 1967 – the Princhester Creek, just South of Marlborough, sniper shootings of Ron and Joyce Linfoot, with Ron being left paralysed from the waist down, and Joyce shot, both survived, 1975 – the shooting murder of Noel Weckert in his parked car just South of Connors River, his Wife Sophie Weckert abducted from the vehicle and transported North to near Funnel Creek and then shot in the back of the head as she ran through a paddock after getting under a fence, 1970’s – a semi-trailer truck driver parked near Stockyard Creek fended off robbers from his truck with a length of steel chain. The section always had an eerie feeling about it, and after the Weckert murders, Police patrols were increased day and night. Stockyard Creek, Barmount, Connors River and Lotus Creek were the four fuel and emergency stopping points, with Stockyard being the last addition to the much longer-serving original other three stops. Barmount is clearly the vandalised buildings in the photos. The operator at Barmount “halfway point” I always remember was a Pommie, or his accent may have been from South Africa. Before Stockyard Creek existed, Barmount was like a safety beacon of light during the night if a motorist was unwittingly low on fuel or having mechanical problems, both of which occurred to me on different trips, and Barmount saved the day both times. After about 7 pm fuel was unavailable at Marlborough, Connors River and Lotus Creek were not open all night, and Stockyard Creek was not even in existence until about the mid 70’s Barmount the only fuel and emergency stop available throughout the night all the way from Rocky through to the City Gates at Mackay. And any of us who travelled that “Horror Highway”, including our Wives and our kids, could have been simply in the wrong place at the wrong time and become innocent victims at the hands of callous grubs – human trash – just like happened to the Weckerts at the hands of two male grubs and a female grub – the Weckerts were simply resting in their car on the side of the road during an overnight trip from Townsville to Yeppoon, and became an easy target for a robbery. The Linfoots in ’67, towing a caravan, had simply pulled in to the Princhester Siding Road to camp for the night, and were targeted by two male grubs who had planned for a month to shoot dead people with a vehicle and caravan, bury the bodies, and then sell-off the stolen vehicle and caravan. It all went pear-shaped when Ron, a British WW 2 veteran, collapsed on the floor of the caravan after being paralysed by the first shot, yelled for his Wife to hand him their rifle, and he started firing back in the direction of where the shots were coming from. The full stories on all of these cases can be found through means such as Trove, Google, and of course through newspapers in Libraries. So, that is my input into this Blog article, for what it may be worth, and keep up the good work, and hopefully you find this info interesting. All the best, Trevor.

    1. Nigel

      Thanks for that informative comment, I remember my Father telling me about some of those events, especially the fellow who fought back after being paralysed. Dad was fortunately in Marlborough buying a carton the night his caravan was stolen from the Stockyard Creek servo he was building at the time, the offender was a wanted murderer apparently? He loved that country and even put in a ballot for land in the early seventies. I found out from my Uncle that Dad actually ran the servo for some time after building it.

    2. Patrice (Purcell)

      My father John Purcell settled in the area as a leaseholder of “Yatton” when he 23 years old as part of the original brigalow ballot block development (1959), drawing over 30,000 acres with his younger brother. My mother Miriam McIver (then Purcell, now Croser referred to in Valerie’s story above) arrived there in 1960 to live and raise 4 children in a slab hut (with no power, no phone and dirt floors for too many years ..). The Qld government at the time pulled a dodgy on my father and reclaimed a large portion of the land back in exchange for freeholding the remainder – something he never forgave, spiralling him into a lifetime of fighting for the man on the land (Cattlemens Union president and Property Rights Australia chair). My parents led the crusade and were successful in the establishment of the Clarke Creek State School in 1970. Mum drove the school bus for many years past the Barmount Servo (subject of these posts) driving the longest school bus route in Qld. Barmount Servo in my childhood was the equivalent of today hearing off to uptown Sydney – through the eyes of a child in the bush it was a place of noise, treats and different people from the outside world who would drop in. sad to see it in disrepair. The horror stretch stories didn’t frighten us too much as the traffic didn’t veer too far off the bitumen and our parents were ready to pounce on intruders. As some of the authors point out the area and its residents have had far more than their fair share of troubling experiences and tragedies – but there are many good stories and experiences that the locals can share. It was a wonderful place to grow up in and I’m pleased that we still have “Yatton” a place we can return to when we want time to stand still and the pressures of everyday life to diminish. Take the drive on the alternate route between Marlborough and Sarina – it’s a pretty drive and much more interesting than the newer route.

    3. Tracee

      Thanks Trevor. I enjoyed reading your article particularly because Sophie Weckert was my Year 3 maths teacher in 1973 or 1974 at Currajong State School, Townsville. Ms Weckert was murdered during the June school holidays from memory, and I have often wondered about the details surrounding her and her husband’s murder.

      1. Wendy Fuss

        Hi Tracee, Sophie and Noel Weckert are my Aunty and Uncle. This horrible event happened today (22nd March ) 41 years ago. I was only 8 when they were both brutally murdered by those scum bags. I’m not 100% sure of all the details as it really isn’t talked about within the family, but they were beautiful people forever in our hearts. Regards, Wendy Fuss.

        1. Paula Hamilton

          Hi Wendy, I stumbled across this while I was researching your uncle and Aunt, Noel and Sophia. I grew up (and still am) in Townsville. As kids we were told of the murders of the people that lived in the ‘A’ framed house down the road on the corner. I was curious and went web searching to see if there was any information on what happened , if the killer was ever caught etc? I couldn’t find anything – I had always thought the name was ‘Weckett’, I rechecked with Mum, and found I had been spelling it incorrectly – and there it was. It was bizarre to see it all in print, the horrible and unbelievable story we knew as children was all there. Such a sad story, like any when lives are taken in cold blood. I hope the family was able to have some closure all those years ago. KInd regards, Paula

    4. Rod F

      Hi Trevor. Thanks for your input to the “history” lesson on the Horror Stretch. Sophie Weckert was a teacher at Currajong State School in Townsville at the time of her death. I was in year 3 there at the time and can still remember how shocked and saddened the whole school was at the time.

    5. Maurie

      I remember Funnel Creek when we used to travel that road. It had a eerie feeling about it with the deep waterhole and that was before the bodies in the wire netting were found. When we travel that road now I remember Princhester Creek where some low life decided to use a caravan as target practice but beat a hasty retreat when they returned fire.

    6. Rocky

      Thanks for the history Trevor. I remember as a kid our family regularly travelled, as my dad put it ,” the horror stretch” , and now I really know why. Twice a year ’72-80, we ( Mum, Dad and six kids) jumped in the Valiant station wagon and drove Brissy to Bowen. The old man always had his old lever action 32 rifle under the front bench seat if ” if things got interesting”. Us kids knew some of the stories, but not all of the details. Because Dad always insisted on leaving Brissy after work on Friday afternoon, that meant we were leaving Marlborough at about 1-2 am to do the stretch and it scared the crap out of me! We sure didn’t sleep much for those 3 odd hours.
      Anyway, this blog has sure brought back some memories, and I am determined to do the Stretch with my kids, and tell some stories on the way.
      To those out there who lost loved ones in these shocking crimes, out heart, even after so many years, goes out to them. Very sad times

  24. Matt Moulds

    Great story, im 17 and have lived my entire life in moranbah, when i was about 3 my folks bought a place at grasstree beach, about 20 ks from sarina, every holidays we travelled that road from its pretty much halfway point. I still to this day travel that road frequently. One late afternoon me and my boss were trucking cattle to a place near Marlborough but had to stop for the night due to a flat tyre along the highway. We started the aircon in the sleeper cab and were trying to sleep, but even after 2 hours of laying there in the pitch black i could just not sleep, nor could my mate. So we changed the tyre and carried on down the road, about 10 minutes into the journey the cattle in the back made this horrid noise, one i can and doubt will ever forget, to this day, i still dont know what set them off and dont really want to go back to find out either.

    1. Chris Griffiths

      Yep wow everytime i come down the coast i allways have the urge to travel that old road i last travelled it in 1980 when i was going around australia i rode my honda four across it and i remember stopping to fuel up at the old esso servo i think . I was very aware of its history as in the murders that taken place there as it hadnt been long after some of them i found it to be a very creepy ride and couldnt wait to get to sarina .it was a spooky place but as i say i allways have the urge to do it again .

  25. Darryl

    Hi
    I was traveling from Cairns to Brisbane in 2010, it was about 130am about an hour or so before Rocky I pulled over at truck stopping area to quickly relieve myself. I was driving a late model Toyota Hiace van, I got out of the vehicle walked across the front of the van relieved myself and jumped back in the drivers seat as I hadn’t even turned the vehicle off I automatically put my foot on the brake and released the hand brake. As soon as I put my foot and the brake the brake lights lit up the area behind the van in the driver side mirror I clearly saw a man about 170cm tall black steel cap boots wearing jeans a black woollen jumper and black beanie only a metre or so behind my vehicle he was momentarily stunned by the fact that the brake lights had lit the whole area behind the vehicle up. There was then and still to this day no doubt in my mind this man was sneaking up on me and I can still see his face even down to the black scraggy shoulder length hair and black goatie. It wasn’t until I relayed this incident to a work colleague some years later that I was made aware of the areas reputation as far as travelling through late at night. It is not my fondest memory but I definitely wont forget it. I definitely wouldn’t stop any where near there after sunset if at all.

    1. Chris Griffiths

      wow scary shit mate ive been travelling that road since the early eighties and travelled the old horror stretch in 1980.on my honda four in daylight i remember stopping for fuel at lotus creek servo and feeling very paronoid there wer a few cars parked up there locals i think yhry sort of just stared at you i got on my bike and didnt stop till i got to sarina i actually felt scared the whole trip on that riad waiting to be shot by a sniper or something lol seriously it had a real bad vibe to ut that road

  26. Kirsten Flynn

    I am a resident of sarina and would advise to never go along that road at night again, after loosing many friends and family to murders and disappearances on the road in the last 5 years, you are very lucky to have gotten out alive….

  27. Geof. Grundy

    I travelled this road in 1956 with my wife and two little boys in a Ford Prefect, going from Townsville to Dalby and back. Broke a shock absorber in two on the way south, and at Lotus creek on the return journey, the radiator hose was split. Patched it up in a fashion, but had to refill the radiator every ten miles from there on. Consequently we carried water and had to find water in creeks etc every 20 miles from there to Townsville. The tanks attached to the little bush schools were a great help.. Was thinking of doing another run up that road, but as i’m well into my eighties, I might think again.

  28. Kessonredman

    One thing I forgot to say is that it happen about 10 years ago when both servo where open all the trucks would stay at the top servo where’s its all dark at night ,but did not open till 7. bp 6am why would ,truckies wait there, when I first got there, a truckie sent me down to the bp ? Part of the set up..the bp had lights camera on .u look up and I seen 20 cameras. Pervert vision.. These people would love to see me again …the one who got away….the big redhead motherfucker

  29. Steve Norris

    I drove that nightmare stretch of road in the late 60’s in a small Vauxhall Viva from Brisbane to Cairns return.
    I still remember dodging the ruts in the road from trucks and the fervent desire not to break down or stop on that road because of the disappearances of other travellers.
    At that time I swore I would not drive that road unless I had a bigger car.

  30. Tom, Jacko, Aspro.

    What a G8 blog, I was a Coach driver when Lotus Creek was in it’s heyday. it was a designated 30 minute rest and refreshment stop that we looked forward to, having travelled from Rockhampton to Proserpine or vice versa on the Brisbane to Cairns run.
    Always a friendly welcome (mostly at night) James Last on the stereo and a few yarns to tell. The creek (Lotus) would sometimes flood in the summer which would mean a longer stay. Sad to see the area fall on hard times…great memories.

  31. Tanya

    Wow Sandy the scotish caretaker must be Old. Many a time my sister and me went up to lotus creek for change for the only phone box near the school.
    20klm for change then 20klm back to motel then another 20klm to the phonebox. 80klm just to talk to my boyfriend in Nsw.
    We would make a fire on the road at night so a truck could find his way to drop a bull off. Would have been scared if I knew the stories.

  32. Mike Bradberry

    I travelled up from Sydney with my parents around 1955 when i was 9 years old
    in a Hudson Terraplane. We had cause to stop at Lotus Creek as the gear lever had come adrift and obviously, it needed to be fixed. The caretakers at the time had the surname Kelly and they had a young daughter, maybe 8 or 10 years old. She and I entertained each other whilst my father hitched a ride to a wrecker to pick up the required parts. We stayed several nights and on one of those nights, my father went pig hunting with a guy who only had his dogs and a knife. They were successful by the way and I recall not being allowed to see the pig gutted and prepared to cook. The Bruce Highway at the time was two furrows in the mud.

  33. gayle

    I only found this site last nite 29th March 2017 because i had been sent photos of lotus ck in flood from cyclonr debbie. On the 30th March i was told by my daughter that the flood waters got higher due to 40mm of rain and took out lotus ck servo. Sandy has lost everything. There is a gofundme on his daughters fb page.
    Lysandra Petrie. Photos as well. 8ft of water ripped through the place. He lost everything including his dogs. Very sad.

  34. Laurel Vize

    Love it.I travelled it a few times with my family,we got an echnida spike in a tyre,thought we missed it.A near miss with a truck.Other than that it was a normal highway.Good to see this recorded.Thanks Laurel,

  35. Harrison cook

    My name is Harrison Cook, they were not vandals. We lived in this servo and the motel was abandoned. Me and my cousin were little kids with nothing better to do but destroy the motel which was already over run with scrub. Some of the best stories of my life comes from this place and i would love to return. If u have any questions ill he happy to answer them

  36. Jennifa

    Huge nostalgia rush for me..I have been to those petrol stations when they were working..I lived in Townsville and my family lived in Sydney..I drove that stretch of road many times..sad to see it’s all just been abandoned..thanks for the piccys..J.M

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