Oasis in the Outback

Top springs, postcode 0852, consists of one establishment: the Wanda Inn roadhouse. But the petrol station–pub–motel, 300 km southwest of Katherine, has the feel of a small town. Within its tidy sprawl of accommodation blocks, trailers, caravans and tents - powered by a shed-sized generator and watered by an artesian well - manager Terry Jones and her seven staff (plus Spike the dog, Pickles the wallaroo and a resident python) host a shifting population of local cattlemen and Aborigines, road workers, tourists and truckers. Isolated the place may be, says Jones, a former hairdresser, but it's never lonely: "We're all friends....

Want the full story?

Subscribe Now


Get TIME the way you want it

  • One Week Digital Pass — $4.99
  • Monthly Pay-As-You-Go DIGITAL ACCESS$2.99
  • One Year ALL ACCESSJust $30!   Best Deal!
    Print Magazine + Digital Edition + Subscriber-only Content on TIME.com

Learn more about the benefits of being a TIME subscriber

If you are already a subscriber sign up — registration is free!