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A Road Warrior’s Guide to Working in Regional Australia

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A Road Warrior’s Guide to Working in Regional Australia

While travelling for work may seem glamorous, any road warrior will tell you it can become very tiring, particularly out on the roads of regional Australia.

In regional towns things like good places to eat, appropriate places to meet, telecommunications blackspots on the road, places to fuel up without queues and more can cause issues. Of course, you could just jump into your car and wing it but let me assure you just a little research before you reach your destination is going to save you a lot of headaches.

The following pointers will get you started:

Telecommunications.

While much is currently being done to negate the various blackspots throughout our regional communities, there are still pockets with limited, no or patchy reception. If you are going to make a call (of course hands-free) make sure you tell your colleague that you are in the car enabling them to understand you aren’t just trying to annoy them on purpose as your phone drifts in and out of service. After a few trips on the same route, you’ll pick up the bad spots and can avoid being on the phone during these times.

Some regional communities now have great NBN coverage while others would have you waiting an hour to send a simple text-based email. Don’t expect Wi-Fi access at every café or hotel along the way and at times you’re going to be without internet for over a day.

You need to be prepared. Have a few options to connect including Wi-Fi, tethering your mobile phone and perhaps a dongle. Know the charges of each and consider boosting your mobile plan to accommodate such occasions. You may also want to consider doing a few remote tests with your various options to ensure you can send and receive your emails, update your blog, or whatever else you need to do online.

Before you leave, set up an auto-reply on your email so your contacts know you are travelling and keep some flexibility in your day so you can catch up on your desk work when the internet going is good.

Food.

One day locally grown produce will be the norm at regional cafes and restaurants. Right now, it’s (sadly) far from the case. Thankfully consumers and/or the hipster movement are creating more demand surrounding local food choices, and you’ll stumble into little communities that look as if they were teleported from the inner suburbs of Melbourne. Sadly, this is not a predominant regional culture (yet).

Even if food miles are beyond your concern, sourcing fresh can still be a challenge, particularly on the side of a highway. While there are certainly some healthier options in the marketplace it’s much more likely you’re going to face a choice between a battered sav, a mixed grill and a hamburger. If you are travelling regularly and value your health, you might consider pre-packing your favourite healthy options or putting a callout on your social feeds for healthy eating options along your route.

Beware of cash only zones too. You’ll often stumble across little cafes that are cash only so if you are only carrying a corporate card make sure you check before you get there or consider putting a few bucks in your wallet just in case you get stuck.

You can always rely on smaller regional towns to have a Chinese restaurant. While it may not meet your more refined palate, you can rest assured it is where you will meet the locals. Same goes for the local RSL (known as the Rissole), Bowling Club (aka Bowlo) or a pub (known as the pub and sometimes the watering hole).

Toilets.

You’d think there would be some sort of consistency (or at least standards) surrounding public toilets but I can assure you there is not. Think I’m exaggerating? I dare you to stop by one of the numerous highway side pit toilets; you won’t feel like a wee for a week. If you find a clean toilet, note it and give your thanks to the proprietor, any form of encouragement counts.

Fuelling up.

As one would expect, there can be some distance between fuel stations. While you will sometimes see warning signs touting ‘last fuel stop for xyz’; that will not always be the case. Best bet is to fill up on departure and keep your tank over half full.

Some regional fuel stations are ridiculously busy, particularly in holiday seasons. Rather than filling up at the highway road stops consider ducking into one of the little towns just off the highway where you are sure to avoid the long queues.

Electronics and other special equipment.

If you’re visiting regional communities to deliver presentations ensure you are self-contained as you won’t necessarily be able to run to the closest electronics store for a new bulb for your digital projector or a replacement presentation clicker. Same goes for stationery, equipment hire and even the facilities you’d expect a venue to have. Check before you go and bring what you can with you.

Summing it up.

Working in regional Australia is a lot of fun, however with regional airports few and far between you will be required to do at least some travel by car. Don’t expect that everything you need will be available and wherever you can, go in prepared. Stock up with podcasts and your favourite tunes and beware as the sun sets for kangaroos on the roadside, waiting to hurl themselves to the other side of the road via your car.

Above all, enjoy the experience, and if you want to share some of your gems about working in regional Australia, please comment below.

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