The distance between these two Roadhouses is about 45 km. However, Billabong has a very interesting history.
The Overlander Roadhouse was the first original roadhouse in this area, up until 1962. Given that the closest petrol station is just outside of Geraldton, running low on petrol will require you to fill up at the Overlander.
The story goes:
Up until the early 1960’s permission was denied to build another roadhouse. That was until Governor Stirling’s wife, on route north, visited the Overlander Roadhouse where she was denied the use of the toilets as she did not purchase something. Within a couple of months of this visit, the building permits were released and thus began the building of one of WA iconic Roadhouses.
The first time I came across Billabong Roadhouse, I was over the moon. I thought it had a sort of cowboy-western type feel – with a dusty roads, a creaking door and friendly staff.
However, in the space of 2 years, the place has deteriorated.
I am well aware of sanitation issues in this area. I personally had a self-sustainable home which had a sanitation unit that turned waste into a fertilizer system which some plants thrive off. This was mostly because we lived a distance from any city and thus had to ‘think outside of the box’.
I also know the expense to clean out a sanitation unit. And being so far away from a major city means that a visit of this nature is pricey.
Although one is warned about the sanitation cleaning fluid smell, on a particular hot day, the smell can be overwhelming. The door to the toilets was broken with the door hanging off one hinge. The air was humid and unpleasant. Going to a toilet would require one with little to no other solutions.
The interior has a lot of ‘knick knacks’. I noticed a few tape cassettes which is a pleasant surprise. I love retro technology. The tables are laid out in a typical ‘western movie’ style. And the walls are plastered with guests that once visited this area.
I question the process of how one puts a photo on the wall. I found out that their camera did not have any film. I continued to ask when they last took photos and the reply was a couple of years ago. Granted – you are not going to find a tech store in these areas…so if you would like to make the ‘hall of fame’ you may wish to take an instamax with you.
Food was pretty good a few years ago. However, given the current conditions and the heat – I was not particular interested in eating anything. Plus – with the air conditioner down I was a little dubious about anything that was cooked on these premises on this particular day.
The Overlander Roadhouse is further north of Billabong. It is at the T-junction turn off to Sharks Bay.
The exterior of the roadhouse is always clean. And, like the last time I visited, the interior was clean and orderly. I felt a little more confident buying food here with the kids being rewarded with chips, sandwiches and drinks.
The bathroom requires a walk outside. It is wheel chair friendly which is much more than what the Billabong Roadhouse could offer. Bathrooms were clean and smell free.
The staff was a little ‘people shy’. However, being out in the boondocks and in constant heat – one can understand. Plus – this area is dusty. And sometimes dust just gets everywhere which could make anyone cranky. I know this location would test all my people skills.
Overall, I was very disappointed in Billabong. I had recommended this place to so many people to this venue. Out of the two, I would say that Overlander is far superior. However, to appreciate the contrast of the two places I would recommend a stop at both. It would set you back about 20 minutes (10 minutes for each stop) but it is well worth the experience.
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