Driver reviver shutdown triggers calls for Queensland roadside trivia boom

Outback travellers and one of Australia’s top quiz masters are calling on the Queensland government to supercharge “fatigue zone trivia” after a controversial decision to axe driver reviver sites.

The Department of Transport and Main Roads says it will stop funding all 23 of the state’s government-owned driver reviver sites next year because they no longer met health and safety regulations.

With the popular coffee, biscuit and chat spots on the way out, some seasoned tourists are crying out for something to fill the gap.

Showing signs of life
Kristy Mills and her husband Brendan are a pair of “full-time travellers” from Western Australia who got their first taste of Queensland’s roadside quiz show after wet weather forced them to detour to Tambo.

The signs are found along select highways across the state, and have a basic but effective premise.

There’s a trivia question on a sign, and to find out the answer drivers have to keep their eyes peeled for the next sign several kilometres down the track.

Ms Mills said the discovery of highway trivia came like a bolt from the blue.

“At first we thought, are we reading this right?” she said.

“Then the sign with the hint came up and we realised that, yep, we were.

“I was taking photos to show them to everyone back in WA and everyone thought they were great.”

One of Australia’s top quiz masters agreed.

The Shark jumps on board
Brydon Coverdale cut his teeth by winning more than $300,000 on Million Dollar Minute in 2014, and has since become one of the expert “chasers” on hit TV game show The Chase Australia under the moniker “The Shark”.

“Forget about just [Queensland], I want them in every state in the country,” he said.

“I think good trivia, interesting facts, that’s the sort of thing that really can capture your attention.

“It’s going to make people stay alert.

“And if there’s someone in the car with them, it prompts a bit of discussion trying to come up with an answer.”

Mr Coverdale said he had a couple of ideal questions that could be considered for any expansion of the program.

First up, what’s the shortest state border in Australia?

“It’s actually Victoria and Tasmania, believe it or not,” he said.

“There’s a little island in Bass Strait where the border runs through 80m or something – officially that’s the land border of Victoria and Tassie.

“That’s one of the facts that I just love to roll out.”

His other suggestion — Which famous Aussie once owned the same tortoise as Charles Darwin?

And yes, that’s Charles Darwin the English naturalist responsible for the theory of evolution by natural selection who died in 1882.

“The answer is Steve Irwin, because these giant tortoises live for so long,” Mr Coverdale said.

“Charles Darwin picked up a giant tortoise on one of his trips.

“It’s ended up, many years and many owners later, at Australia Zoo.”

Harriet the tortoise died in 2006 at the ripe old age of about 175.

“It just blows your mind doesn’t it?” Mr Coverdale said.

Let’s get quizzical
It’s not just Australians who want the program rolled out further.

Maureen Cameron, who runs a tourism company in Scotland, has just completed a six-month journey around Australia.

It included a 35-day motorhome trip from Sydney to Cape Tribulation and back.

The roadside trivia signs were a revelation.

“Queensland was the best, could of been doing with them on the Port Hedland to Broome stretch in WA,” Mrs Cameron said.

“I was hoping other states might take note, even Scotland and England roads.”

A Department of Transport and Main Roads spokesman said roadside trivia signs were placed along stretches of the Bruce, Capricorn, Landsborough, Cunningham and New England highways.

“Trivia questions are developed by our district officers and are generally related to Queensland, with a focus on the local area,” he said.

“Be sure to keep a safe eye out for these signs for a little bit of [regulated] fun.

He said it was important to never drive tired or distracted, always stick to the designated speed limit and drive to the conditions.

“We encourage drivers to take a break while driving and to act on any signs of fatigue,” he said.

Unfortunately for the Camerons, the Millses and The Shark, there did not appear to be an appetite for any large-scale boost to the program in light of next year’s driver reviver shutdown.

“Signs on the Bruce Highway between Gympie and Miriam Vale were updated earlier this year,” the spokesman said.

“There are no current plans for further upgrades.”