Two German women among those who died in Greyhound bus crash on notorious highway (2024)

In short:

Investigations are continuing into a bus crash that killed three women, including two German nationals, in North Queensland on Sunday.

The Greyhound bus crashed on the Bruce Highway in Gumlu, prompting further concerns about the road safety at the start of tourist season.

What's next?

The Queensland government says Main Roads and police will take whatever action necessary to prevent another accident occurring.

The German Embassy has confirmed two of the three women killed in the weekend Greyhound bus crash in North Queensland were German nationals.

The deaths have shocked travellers at the start of tourist season with concerns raised about the safety of road networks in remote and regional Australia.

The women, aged in their 20s and 30s, and a 56-year-old Townsville woman, were killed on Sunday morning when the coach collided with a car towing a caravan near Gumlu about 135km south of Townsville.

Police said early investigations indicated the bus, carrying 33 passengers, had veered onto the wrong side of the Bruce Highway.

The deaths add to a grim national road toll, which at the end of May, with 1,303 deaths, was already 10 per cent higher than last year, according to the Australian Automobile Association.

The start of July is typically when grey nomads and backpackers begin travelling thousands of kilometres to the north of Australia — often towing caravans.

A German Embassy spokesman confirmed the nationality of the two younger women on Tuesday.

"The German Embassy Canberra and the German Consulate General in Sydney are providing consular assistance in coordination with the local authorities in Australia and Germany," he said.

Four male bus passengers injured in the crash remain in Townsville University Hospital.

A 24-year-old man, understood to be an American, is in a critical condition and the four other men are in a stable condition.

'You'd always prefer a train'

For backpackers, the triple fatality was a stark reminder of the dangers of road travel.

Some arriving on a Greyhound bus in Townsville yesterday had spent more than 26 hours on the road.

They were all too aware it could have been them on the bus that crashed in Gumlu.

Two German women among those who died in Greyhound bus crash on notorious highway (1)

Swiss man Basile Laurens, 24, travelled through Gumlu on another Greyhound bus just a few hours after the fatal crash.

He said he generally felt safe on Australian roads, but this had come as a shock.

"It could have been me, it could have been someone else … it's luck," he said.

British backpacker Ollie Seddon, 22, said the news of the deaths on the much-travelled route was a shock.

He was making his way around Australia on coaches.

Two German women among those who died in Greyhound bus crash on notorious highway (2)

"It did make me a little bit uneasy, but these things happen and it's unfortunate," he said.

"[Coaches] are a good way to travel, though you'd always prefer a train.

"You do look out the window and wonder how safe it is for these coaches. It does worry me a little sometimes."

Two German women among those who died in Greyhound bus crash on notorious highway (3)

A spokesperson for Greyhound Australia said they were unable to comment on fatigue management or staffing levels.

They said the company's priority was working with authorities to better understand what had led to the tragedy.

'Heavily used' highway

In Gumlu, both locals and grey nomads voiced concerns about the Bruce Highway.

Publican Toni Dale said one of her staff members was killed on the same stretch of road two months ago.

"They're all still reeling … it's just brought it all back," she said.

Two German women among those who died in Greyhound bus crash on notorious highway (4)

She said it was too simple to blame the road.

"A lot of people are in a hurry; you can't blame the road for everything," she said.

But grey nomad Pam Beavan said she avoided travelling the Bruce Highway.

Two German women among those who died in Greyhound bus crash on notorious highway (5)

"I hate travelling the Bruce Highway at the best of times … it's so heavily used by caravans and cars, and [in some parts] it's only two lanes," she said.

"It's not a very safe highway."

Death toll linked to post-COVID travel

In Queensland, police data shows 144 people have lost their lives on Queensland roads this year, compared with 126 last year, which is about a 14 per cent increase.

Questions have long been raised about the safety of the Bruce Highway with one opposition MP on Sunday labelling it a "goat track".

Queensland Transport Minister Bart Mellish expressed sympathy for the victims of the crash and their families.

"Investigations are still underway by the Queensland Police Service and we need to let them get on with their job," he said.

"TMR [Transport and Main Roads] and QPS investigate every single fatal crash and will take whatever action necessary to prevent an accident happening again."

The state government has increased its funding to $250 million a year to improve the highway's safety.

The Australian Road Safety Foundation's Russell White said the increase in road accidents was linked to increased travel in the wake of COVID restrictions lifting.

He urged people to drive to conditions and caravan owners to ensure they were confident before hitting the road.

"Any increase in road trauma at all is a massive cause of concern," he said.

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Two German women among those who died in Greyhound bus crash on notorious highway (2024)
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