End of an era for Muller family at Cooladdi's Foxtrap Hotel

Sally Gall
By Sally Gall
Updated April 19 2022 - 1:16pm, first published April 14 2022 - 9:00am
Christie-Lynn Lang with her parents Gavin and Roxanne Muller, who are soon to farewell the Foxtrap Hotel. Picture: Sally Gall

The Foxtrap Hotel at Cooladdi was named for its ability to capture shearers and their wages back in the old days, but now the family that makes up the population of Queensland's smallest town is saying farewell.

When she moved from Moura out to Charleville 15 years ago, Roxanne Muller told her husband Gavin that was far enough.

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He'd grown up in Cunnamulla and wanted to get back to the laidback lifestyle.

The move west also saw Roxanne's mother, Laurel Seymour-Smith relocate.

"She said, if you're leaving, I'm coming too," Roxanne said. "Originally she was going to buy the pub at Adavale but she came this way instead - it's more on a highway."

Mrs Seymour-Smith lost her partner 12 months after taking over the hotel, all-in-one store, accommodation and post office, and so in 2010 Roxanne moved the hour further west with her family to help out.

It's a move they never regretted.

Once a thriving town, the original name of the railway station beside the Diamantina Developmental Road was called Yarronvale but was renamed in 1913 to Cooladdi, an Aboriginal word meaning 'black duck', to stop the confusion with a nearby property with the same name.

Roxanne said the families on the properties nearby, and the regular travellers servicing the towns further west were like family.

"They drop everything to help you," she said.

While Gavin was often away, working as a grader driver on the Wild Dog Barrier Fence anywhere from the NSW border to north of Tambo, Roxanne and her mother ran the show at Cooladdi.

Before she moved to Quilpie a few years ago, Gavin and Roxanne's daughter Christie-Lynn Lang was also giving them a hand with cooking and serving the many passers-by that drop in.

That was after she'd finished with the daily commute of 35km to the school bus stop, for a total 89km one-way trip to Charleville to attend school.

The landmark Foxtrap Hotel is soon to change hands due to Roxanne's health, and she's heading back to Moura, taking plenty of memories with her.

One she vividly recalls is when one of the residents saw a cat walking in front of the shop.

Wild cats are the scourge of native wildlife in the outback and every opportunity is taken to reduce the population when it presents itself.

Roxanne recalled that the person responsible for dispatching the cat with a gun turned back to the pub, to see a tourist couple camped nearby hastily packing their van and departing at high speed.

"Whether it was because it was their cat, or because there was someone walking around with a gun, we never found out," she said.

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Sally Gall

Sally Gall

Senior journalist - Queensland Country Life/North Queensland Register

Based at Blackall, CW Qld, where I've raised a family, run Merino sheep and beef cattle, and helped develop a region - its history, tourism, education and communications.

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