On the road again: 200+ ‘Road Mustered’ towns and counting
Throughout the last nine months, the nbn™ local team has travelled far and wide across the country, engaging with regional and remote Australia to showcase our Sky Muster™ satellite service and provide support to homes and businesses.
Clocking up more than 40,000 klicks in NBN Co’s specially equipped Road Muster trucks, and dropping in to more than 200 towns along the way, here our team shares some of their special experiences, state by state.
More than 40 towns and 7000km over nine weeks, the Western Australia Road Muster Tour was a spectacular adventure, visiting some of the state’s most iconic towns and communities.
A mix of rugged coastline, lush forest, crystal-blue waters, red dirt and desert provided an idyllic, impressive and expansive backdrop as we made our way from Esperance in the south of WA to Broome in the north.
Visiting some of WA’s most recognisable towns and communities, each region had unique connectivity challenges and insights to share, with residents always enthusiastic to tell their story.
Despite WA’s unique and vast geography, the Road Muster Tour visited every region to ensure communities had the opportunity to connect with their nbn™ local team.
Said nbn™ local Manager Jane McNamara, “Although the wet season is not the best time to visit the stunning Pilbara and Kimberley, we had the nbn™ broadband access network switching on in towns like Derby, Broome and Kununurra. We wanted to make sure we were there to celebrate such a significant milestone and, most importantly, help the community learn more.
“The Broome community was particularly appreciative. Arriving at a time of year when the humidity feels like 95 per cent, the team had never experienced such heat. Mango smoothies at the Broome Courthouse Markets provided heavenly relief while business owners and families talked about the benefits that access to fast internet was going to bring.”
London. Paris. New York. Cairo. The list goes on and on. Right there in the middle of town is one of those signposts pointing to countless distant and exotic locations. Those faraway cities are a far cry from the small west Victorian town of Dimboola where we spent time during our three-month Road Muster Tour.
Just a short distance away, nbn™ local Manager Graham Soawyer was hosting the local community with the Road Muster truck. “The community is just so grateful to have the opportunity to speak to someone one-on-one to dispel some of the myths.”
Dimboola was just one of the stops on a week-long tour, taking in Murtoa in the Wimmera region, Kaniva towards the South Australian border, Nhill, Ouyen (regularly the hottest spot in Victoria) and finishing at the Mildura Field Days. This covered lots of Fixed Wireless and Sky Muster™ satellite territory, lots of questions, and lots of golden opportunities to take our satellite service over the Road Muster truck to the people of Victoria.
But back to that sign and all of those distant destinations; it’s a wonderful illustration of what it is we’re doing here at NBN Co: bringing the rest of the world just that little bit closer.
South Australia and the Northern Territory
Between them, South Australia and the Northern Territory contain only eight per cent of Australia’s population, but those people are spread across 30 per cent of our land mass.
This puts the term ‘outreach’ into a whole other category. One of the Road Muster truck’s longest adventures (because there were many) ranged from the tropics of Darwin, through the red desert heart of Central Australia, and into small communities like Coober Pedy and Hawker in South Australia.
The 3300km of roads travelled between Darwin to Adelaide over nearly two weeks took us from hot and humid to cold and dry, raging rivers to featureless windswept plains. In that time, we spoke to hundreds of people about every nbn™ technology.
The truck also travelled to the south-eastern corner of South Australia, near the Victorian border, then out to the west coast and Great Australian Bight.
Said nbn™ local Manager Jill Bottrall, “Curiosity about the Road Muster truck’s ability to tap into the Sky Muster™ satellite service from wherever we happened to stop is what excited many people we encountered along the way. Everyone from mining exploration workers to station owners and a barrage of grey nomads wanted to know where they could get a satellite dish ‘like that one!’
“Many of them had not heard of the Sky Muster™ satellite service, much less its capabilities. We got a real kick out of demonstrating just how good NBN Co’s technology is and what it’s doing to help transform telecommunications in these remote areas.”
That’s why our team is keen to keep spreading the word, reaching out to communities small and smaller to let them know that living remotely no longer means exclusion or inaccessibility.
From the tropical wetlands of Far North Queensland, through the Central Highlands, to the glitter strip of the Gold Coast, the 2018 Road Muster Tour saw our team meeting farmers, miners, Indigenous communities and suburban businesses, highlighting the great impact access to services over the nbn™ access network is having on communities.
Amazing moments included NBN Co being invited by the Dirt ’n’ Dust Festival committee to attend and provide network connectivity to the 24th annual event held in Julia Creek, 647km west of Townsville.
Julia Creek is normally home to some 500 residents but, during the festival, the population swells to more than 3000.
Said nbn™ local Manager Marcello Massi, “Highlights included meeting the CSIRO test farm trialling ‘Fitbit for cattle’, Australian Working Stock Dog magazine’s publishers operating through the Sky Muster™ satellite service, and catching up with an ICT company in Cloncurry servicing remote cattle stations.”
At the festival, the Road Muster truck provided secure Wi-Fi to the box office, media, bars and food outlets, as well as offering a direct connection via local area network to the event organisers. Among the ‘firsts’ this year was the ability for media to submit reports including video to news outlets, Facebook live streaming of the start of the triathlon, and payWave on EFTPOS, all via the Sky Muster™ satellite connection through the Road Muster truck.*
New South Wales
Our nbn™ local team in New South Wales also covered lots of ground, travelling thousands of kilometres across the state. From Byron Bay to Broken Hill, Newcastle to Nowra, and Menindee to Maitland, we talked with thousands of residents and businesses, sharing stories and advice on how they can help make the most of their nbn™ access network connection.
While visiting some of the most remote parts of the state, it’s never lost on the team how important connectivity is to livelihoods. The simple act of paying bills online – let alone working from where you want to live – was a foreign concept for many before the nbn™ access network was available.
Travelling more than 500km across the Bass Strait, our southern-most Road Muster truck soon hit the beautiful west coast of Tasmania. Known for its rugged mountains and picturesque landscapes, the nbn™ local team spent a week on the Tasmanian ‘wild west’ touring the towns of Rosebery, Zeehan, Strahan, Queenstown and Tullah.
The west coast will be the final Fixed Line area to be switched on in Tasmania.
Said nbn™ local Manager Russell Kelly, “We’re close to switching on the final areas, meaning the rollout of the nbn™ access network is expected to be fully complete in Tasmania soon.”
Following their adventures on the west coast, the team then travelled south to the town of Carrick to attend the annual Agfest Field Days: Tasmania’s premier agriculture event that sees more than 65,000 attendees pass through the gates over three days.
This year, as a guest of the Tasmanian Farmers and Graziers Association, the Road Muster truck was a drawcard, especially in demonstrating the Sky Muster™ satellite service’s capabilities.
Said Kelly, “We met some terrific folk and answered heaps of questions about the nbn™ access network throughout our month-long tour of the north-west of Tasmania.
“It was great to hear some of the incredible stories about how our network is helping to change the ways in which businesses operate, and how it’s connecting family and friends globally.”