Judy Dixon, Browns Flat NSW
If you stop at the Lions Club caravan at Browns Flat on the NSW north coast, don’t ask to refill your own coffee cup. Don’t ask for a cup lid. And don’t ask for a double shot.
Site co-ordinator Judy Dixon and her crew won’t help you stay on the road longer than two hours.
Instead, she wants you to get out of your car and refresh with a cuppa and a snack, a stretch and a chat before continuing on your journey.
Along with husband Roger, Judy is “one of the dinosaurs” who has volunteered at the site on the western flank of the Pacific Highway near Nerong since it opened when work on the Bulahdelah bypass began in 2010.
At the time, volunteers worked out of a red van with supplies stashed in Eskies, then a caravan. Eventually, Bulahdelah Lions Club built the current permanent structure.
Judy has seen quite a few sights in her time.
One time, a van pulled up and seven children got out, followed by the father. He’d been driving nonstop since Brisbane in Queensland – about five hours.
“He came over and asked for a cup of coffee and said: `I can’t take it anymore – I just need to get away from the kids’.
“So I said: `The kids are fine – they’re out the back, we’ll keep an eye on them. You sit there and we’ll have no problems whatsoever.’ He was so appreciative.”
Another time, a man pulled in, tired but desperate to reach his mother dying in a Sydney hospital.
While he was having a cuppa, he received a phone call to tell him she had died.
“Our young girl volunteer spent a good hour and a bit with him to get him right to get back on the road. He came back and thanked us for what we had done for him. He said he would have got in the car and been a mess and not thinking of what he was doing, and who knows what would have happened.”
About 20 volunteers work to open the site from 10am to 3pm (longer if it’s busy) on public holidays.
International visitors are amazed at the Driver Reviver program, which is unique to Australia, Judy says.
As well as their work with Driver Reviver and the Lions Club, Judy, 66, and Roger, 72, operate Bulahdelah Post Office and Roger is a Justice of the Peace.