THE controversial subject of whether large cats, such as pumas, black panthers or mountain lions, are roaming around remote areas of Australia, has again surfaced.
A couple of veteran truckies whom Spy has spoken to recently, swear they have seen such cats while driving their rigs.
One reckons he saw one bolt across a road in the Gippsland region of Victoria, and the other claimed his sighting was near Emerald in Queensland.
They certainly didn't want their names associated with such claims, considering some may think they have lost the plot.
Over the decades there have been reports of such sightings in north-western NSW, various parts of Victoria, around Darwin, south-west WA, near Charters Towers, and the Atherton Tablelands up north at Cape York.
There have been various possible explanations put forward to try to solve the mystery.
One is that these animals were brought Down Under by American service personnel during the Second World War and later released into the bush, where they bred.
Some years ago Spy knows of a fellow who had a stuffed mountain lion which was lifelike.
It was placed on top of an anthill with some bush beside a highway and turned heads as drivers passed.
Anybody who saw that could have believed they saw a mountain lion.
If they do exist around Oz, you would expect that truckies would be among those most likely to see one.
Crocs in the creek
SEVERAL trucks were involved in the retrieval of a troop carrier vehicle from the aptly named East Alligator Creek, at Arnhem Land in the Northern Territory, in March.
The family managed to get to safety after their vehicle became partly submerged as they attempted to cross the creek.
It is known as a habitat for large crocodiles of man-eating size, and local cops called the West Arnhem Shire Council for assistance.
A tractor had been unable to tow the vehicle out of the water, so a big rig loader was used.
The tide was coming in, but fortunately the operation was a success at the crossing, which is a vital link between Maningrida, Gunbalanya and Darwin.
Most years the crossing is closed until the end of April. However, with low rainfall this year, it has been okay for traffic to cross with caution at certain times.
Jill of all trades
THERE is a female cook at a large north Queensland roadhouse who some truckies reckon would do well in one of those television shows like My Kitchen Rules.
She has been preparing, at very reasonably prices, "specials" that have been ordered quickly by hungry truckies.
One recent Thai dish she prepared was, according to some drivers, a culinary delight of the highest order.
The large amount she cooked ran out in just a few hours.
There have been other dishes as well, and we also hear she went fishing on a day off and caught a large legal-sized barramundi, a prized table species.
Kenworth or not?
MALE mates of a female Victorian truck driver have given Spy some information about a female colleague who they all find humorous. This middle-aged lassie loves driving a Mitsubishi Canter but refers to it as her Kenworth. It's all a bit tongue-in-cheek and a joke, but on the way up from Melbourne to Queensland, she stopped with 10 fellow truckies at a roadhouse for fuel.
"A guy asked her what truck she was sitting in, as we all travelled up in a convoy and she pointed to a big Kenworth. The guy said, 'Good on you, love.' But little did he know she was referring to the Canter. It was parked next to the Kenworth. We all got a laugh out of that," one of her truckie workmates confided in Spy.
A TRUCKIE from Barcaldine in Queensland phoned Spy last week with this snippet from his travels along the highway near Mitchell.
He was coming home from deliveries at Toowoomba when he came across two lots of roadworks that forced traffic to stop for up to 20 minutes.
"There was a sign beside the highway welcoming everybody to Mitchell, which was a place to pull up and unwind," he said.
Our man said the sign was appropriate because after the roadworks hold-ups that is exactly what truckies would want to do.
He also said that while the roadworks caused short-term inconvenience, they would results in a safer highway when completed.
Not so sour grapes
FROM the Barossa Valley area of South Australia comes this little ripper, and it involves a NSW truckie who was treated to a day out by several local drivers.
The Sydney-based truckie likes to keep healthy, and included in his fitness regime of running and walking is a desire to eat fruit.
It was like dangling a red rag in front of a bull when his mates offered him heaps of grapes. He enjoyed them, but there was a consequence.
"I ate so many grapes my stomach felt like a fermenting machine, and I continually had to go to the toilet," he said.
TWO truckie mates have a strange habit when they visit roadhouses or eateries.
They live in Victoria but travel interstate a lot, and when stopping for a bite to eat, check out how many non-customers use the toilets and showers.
One stopped at a big roadhouse and sat out near the toilets.
He said he counted 10 people who used the toilets and never purchased a thing.
The other likes to drop into a Queensland Hungry Jack's, and reckoned he counted eight people walk in, use the toilet, and take off without spending a penny.