Frank Colemane, Tamworth NSW
“The very first time the thought occurs to you: `I'm probably going to feel a bit tired soon’, you already are and it’s time to plan your stop.”
Tamworth site co-ordinator Frank Colemane should know – in 10 years crisscrossing the countryside as a travelling salesman between Victoria and Queensland, he clocked up more than 780,000kms on the road for work, not including private travel.
“I understand country driving – the hazards, the things to look out for, the precautions to take and being able to recognise tiredness and when it's time to stop,” he says.
Frank and wife Kay, both 71, have been involved in the Driver Reviver program since the Scripture Union took over its management in 2020, coinciding with him seeking his next volunteering project.
“I didn't hesitate: I love to talk to people and I've had a lot of driving experience.”
Built and managed by the Peel Valley Lions Club in 1997 and maintained by Tamworth Regional Council, the site is now operated by more than 150 volunteers from 18 churches.
They all work under the auspice of the Scripture Union, an organisation which organises camps for children.
During the September/October 2022 long weekend, they served 680 drinks.
In recent years, several ideas have been implemented to keep people at the busy site longer.
There’s an onsite orienteering treasure map for kids and windscreen cleaning equipment.
As well as plenty of parking, picnic tables, toilets, electric barbecues, vintage tractor, caravan dump spot, tourist information, map and safety leaflets.
There’s even a unique Tamworth family game, given out free to visitors. Each card in the ‘Are We There Yet?’ pack features a discussion starter with quirky questions like “If you could invent a better car what would it have?” or “What is the funniest sound you can make with your voice?”.
Tamworth site also has a mirror on the counter with a note beneath that reads: “Hi. You're looking at a tired driver”.
Frank remembers one motorist – a possible life saved, who stopped at the site and looked in the mirror.
“He said `That's me. I needed to stop.’ “
So if you notice yourself (or your driver) twitching, nodding and/or blinking – pull over, get out of the car and take a break, Frank says.
Tamworth Driver Reviver site is at Rotary Park, 511 Armidale Road (next to Colonial Motor Inn) and is open from 9am to 5pm school holidays and long weekends.