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Phones get poor reception at iconic pub - Owners determined to keep conversation alive

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December 08, 2017

The Walkabout Hotel in far north Queensland.

The owners of the Walkabout Hotel Frank and Debbie Wust with that telecom tower looming in the background.

Veteran Kyabram journalist Gus Underwood continues his series on a recent trip through outback NSW and Queensland and visits an outback pub in far north-west Queensland that has brought in a few new rules to deal with mobile phones…

AS FAR as Frank and Debbie Wust are concerned outback pubs should be all about communication.

Yes, good old fashioned chatter.

Face-to-face stuff and plenty of it, no matter how far-fetched, exaggerated or downright boring it all may be.

So when it was announced a telecommunications tower was being erected just over the road from their pub in the far north-west Queensland outback whistlestop of McKinlay, Frank and Debbie made a decision.

The tower means customers to their historic Walkabout Hotel — made famous by the Aussie blockbuster movie Crocodile Dundee — will be able to use mobile phones for the first time in this isolated neck of the woods about 60km south of Cloncurry on the Matilda Highway.

But as far as the Wusts are concerned that’s not going to be the case – well not in their pub anyway.

The Wusts have decided they want at least the bar in their iconic pub to be a no-go zone when it comes to mobile phones.

In fact if you happen to be in the bar and get a call or make a call you’ll be asked politely to turn it off.

Or go outside if you really have to make or take that call.

But it will still cost you.

If you take or make a call or start texting in the bar. the Wusts or their staff will thrust and rattle a tin in front of you and ask for a donation, with all proceeds going to the Royal Flying Doctor Service.

Frank reasons that his pub, like many similar remote watering holes, should be all about encouraging customers to mix and communicate.

A place to get away from it all and tell a good old yarn.

While the Wusts’ stance on mobile phones has been hailed as a first for a pub in Australia, Frank is not so sure.

‘‘We’ll certainly be one of the first but I did hear the same thing is happening at the pub at Bedourie (north of Birdsville).’’

‘‘I don’t think we are asking too much and I think most people will realise and appreciate what we are doing it for, so I don’t think it will cause too many hassles.’’

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