Outback MagazineOutback Magazine


Outback patrol

With vast beats and lonely patrols, Queensland outback police officers often maintain law and order single-handedly. But most relish the experience and return to ‘civilisation’ enriched by it.

Story and photos Peter Flanders

“Out here you soon learn to compromise, where normally you wouldn’t. And, depending on the size of the bloke you’re trying to lock up, is the degree to which you are prepared to compromise,” laughs John ‘JJ’ Moran, formerly a senior constable at Bedourie Police Station in outback Queensland.

JJ is one of a small band of police who have lived and worked in Queensland’s far-flung police divisions near the Northern Territory border. The one and two-officer stations of Birdsville, Bedourie, Boulia, Camooweal and Dajarra each cover between 40 and 60 thousand square kilometres of harsh country and desert. It’s not unusual for these cops to drive 250 kilometres in one direction just to take a crime report or rescue a stranded motorist.
Make no mistake, these men and women are tough, resourceful and highly self-reliant. It doesn’t matter what the situation, they are required to attend and deal with it from start to finish. If that means walking into the middle of a drunken brawl and dragging the ring-leaders away, then that is what they do. They don’t bother looking behind for back-up, because they know full-well that, for at least two hours, there is none.

“When the phone rings at three o’clock in the morning there is no use waiting for someone else to answer it,” says senior constable Ben Palmer, after a stint relieving as sole officer at Birdsville. “Nine times out of 10 it is a tourist ringing to find out about road conditions, but regardless of what it is, you’re it, seven days a week. There is no one else. That gets to you more than anything.” Story end

Full story OUTBACK Issue 37 October/November 2004

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