Garry James shared this spooky tale on Halloween night. PHOTO: Garry James Driver
Garry James shared this spooky tale on Halloween night. PHOTO: Garry James Driver

Truckie's spine-tingling story about The Horror Stretch

IN HONOUR of the spookiest day of the year, Aussie truckie Garry James shared this spine-chilling tale on his Facebook page, Garry James Driver. 

"Given an Aussie truckies' line of work, filled with long drives and lonely stretches of roads - often through the dead of night - it's no surprise that they would have some spooky stories up their sleeves.

"I thought I would save the best for last, as I have very vivid memories of the stretch of the Bruce Highway, south of Sarina, which was so scary, and so many unsolved mysteries, that they actually relocated the highway 80kms to the East, to where it is today.  

"Most truck drivers refused to travel it at night, unless accompanied by at least a half dozen other trucks, most of whom, were carrying guns.... just in case.   "In honour of Halloween, here is the terrifying tale of The Horror Stretch (The Badlands or The Killing Fields as it was also known as).  

"It must be - what? - almost 40 years ago now. But Ross Gibson still recalls with a small boy's shiver his earliest memories of crossing the Central Queensland badlands: the worthless stretch of scrubby floodplain that separates the cattle country of Rockhampton from the canefields of Mackay. The Horror Stretch.  

"I'd have been five, or six years old," says Gibson, a writer, teacher and film-maker, now based at the University of Technology in Sydney. "I'd be sitting, bleary in the back of my father's car, heading up from our home in Brisbane, going on holiday or to see family scattered up and down the coast."  

"Long before his curiosity had been fed by chilling travellers' tales, told from Cape York to Coolangatta, about the evil stalking Capricornia, long before a series of brutal murders brought the Horror Stretch national notoriety, Gibson had somehow realised it was a strange, special place.  

"Connors River camp, once a popular rest-stop on The Stretch, or the Crystal Highway as it was sardonically dubbed by locals, in celebration not of its sparkling sea-views, but its glistening, glass-splattered surface.  

"The old petrol station and camping ground had been abandoned and vandalised. The sites were littered with bullet-pocked bowsers, eviscerated car bodies and middens of artefacts, both ancient (Golden Fleece petrol tins) and modern (a T-shirt printed with Cathy Freeman's sunny face).

Have you stopped at Lotus Creek? PHOTO: Garry James Driver
Have you stopped at Lotus Creek? PHOTO: Garry James Driver

"Splashes of blood - freshly spilled blood - could still be seen on the dusty slab-floor of an abandoned building.   

"It was here in March 1975, bang in the heart of the brigalow country, among local landmarks such as the Styx River, Charon Point, Grave Gully and the Berserkers Range, that there was committed murder most foul, that there was created the myth of the Badlands.  

"Noel Weckert, a skydiver driving with his wife to a jumpers' carnival in Rockhampton, was found slumped, still seatbelted, in the front seat of his Toyota Celica. He had been shot dead through the head with a .22 calibre rifle, probably while sleeping.  

"The bloated, sun-broiled body of his wife, also shot through the head, was found, two weeks later, in a creek, where she had apparently fled from her attackers.  

"A couple of English holidaymakers similarly shot at by a sniper. A 14-year-old girl gone missing. A 26-year-old Aboriginal woman sexually assaulted, murdered and dumped in the Fitzroy River. More travellers, two of them from Sydney, shot as they slept in sleeping-bags by the roadside. Disappearing hitchhikers.  

"And, darkest of all, bloodstained with the deaths of many indigenous Australians, whose voices - like those of the "great brawl of humanity" which passed through the Horror Stretch - have been forgotten, or deliberately ignored.  

Do you have any scary Halloween stories? PHOTO: Garry James Driver
Do you have any scary Halloween stories? PHOTO: Garry James Driver

"Some, such as that of Jemmy at the hands of Native Mounted Police Force officer Frederick Wheeler, were seemingly random killings; others, such as the massacre of an estimated 300 Aborigines in the so-called "Goulbolba dispersal", were the product of genocide in the name of civilisation.  

"Popular belief, even today, says the ghosts are still out there in the badlands, they still have something to say to contemporary Australia.  

"If you are heading north along the Bruce Highway, between Marlborough and St Lawrence, look over to your left. The mountain range you see in the distance, is roughly where the old Bruce Highway used to be, The Horror Stretch, The Killing Fields, or the Badlands. Whatever you want to call it. I still will not travel that highway at night, now simply called the Marlborough-Sarina Rd.  

"I have travelled it a couple of times in the day, but no chance this little black duck will do it at night!!"