Taroom… where the toilets are trees

DID you know that if you travel to Taroom (a little country town in the Brigalow belt) you’d better not need to go to the toilet?

Unless you’re happy to use a tree.

Because there aren’t any toilets. Not public ones. I can speak with authority on this because I have checked.

On the National Public Toilet Map.

I am not making this up.

If you want to travel from Townsville (52 public toilets) to Perth (745) via Alice Springs (13) you can map your route by official opportunities to pee. You’ll have to keep your legs crossed for hundreds of kilometres, because the only toilets between these places are trees or — in some areas — very public bushes or a patch of sand. But if you really want to plot your journey by official opportunities to take a leak, you can.


Who thought this up?

Apparently, some people who run the National Continence Management Strategy.

That’s a real name. It’s also the kind of sick joke that made Billy Connelly famous, as well as an exercise in bureaucratic claptrap.

Because it’s not about continence at all. You don’t need to manage continence. Continence is when you don’t leak. Incontinence is the problem.

And before you ask, that has nothing to do with why I was looking at a map of the non-existent public toilets in Taroom.

Anyway, bugger Taroom. I’m much more interested in Townsville and its 52 toilets. One for every week of the year, if you want to add a weekly dash of variety to your life.

And, incidentally, one for every 2700 people who live there, should they get caught short.

On the other hand they might do well to nip across the border to Thuringowa, where there are 28 public toilets, or one for every 2000 people.

Or, if you’re really desperate, jump in the car and dash to Innisfail, where 8000 people share eight public toilets. (Actually, since Cyclone Larry eight toilets might be the sum total even if you include the private ones).

In fact, from Mount Isa to Magnetic Island; from Atherton to Ayr you’ll find the queues are shorter than they are in Townsville, and that’s not including the tourists.

Even Cairns, I am embarrassed to announce, is better endowed than Townsville, with 73 public toilets for a population of 123,700, or one for every 1690 people – a clear indication that either Townsville has better bladder control, or Cairns has more perverts.

But apart from filling in a slack spot in my day, is this information of any use to anyone? I know that people who suffer from incontinence must hate other people (like me) who make jokes about it. But does anyone — even visitors — carry with them a list of public toilet addresses in case of emergency?

I thought the usual procedure was to nip into a café, a shopping centre or a pub, or even an office block.

And if you’re nowhere near any of these things then it’s probably safe to pull over and do it in the road!

The whole thing seems like a waste of money to me, but I’m not incontinent. Well, not yet.

And I guess it provides a useful database for other sections of the community, too – like graffiti-ists and vandals.