Lismore’s phantom pothole painter (and repairer) with his ‘baby on board’.
Lismore’s phantom pothole painter (and repairer) with his ‘baby on board’.

Loveable road warrior keeps us safe

North Coast country roads are notoriously terrible (unless of course you compare them to India).

We have come to accept it and whinging about it has become a regional pastime. But one man has taken it upon himself to do something about it; creating art and saving tyres, suspension, and possibly lives at the same time.

For about a year now a man who wishes to be identified as 'Roa Dart' has been spraying multicoloured circles and fish around potholes and painting arrows on the road to warm motorists of the impending danger.

He has achieved some level of local notoriety, but wants to remain anonymous.

When asked why he started doing it, he replied "awareness" and then went on a long rave about backpackers in Wicked vans having their holidays ruined.

(Trying to get a straight answer from Roa Dart is a bit like trying to drive on our roads without hitting a pothole; it's challenging.) He is one of the more loveable yet eccentric characters I have ever encountered and, here on the North Coast, that is quite a distinction.

He said it was "about the art" and a "pleasure to do it".

"We all have the potential to resonate our love. Art is one way to compress our passion," he said.

He seemed pleased that the road to Nimbin attracts around 1000 vehicles a day, with people from all over the world seeing his artwork.

"To me a painted pothole of the Nimbin Road has the potential for a thousand misses and a thousand smiles every day, and it only takes a few minutes of passion... Life, unlike a pothole, is not to be missed."

Having faced his own demons, he believes life is a miracle and he is not encumbered by many of the mores of our society and enjoys provoking a reaction from people.

He used to wear a roadkill echidna as a hat and, after seeing a 'Baby on Board' sticker on a car at The Channon last weekend, he is currently getting around with a 'baby on a board' on his back.

When I phoned and asked if we could do a story about him, with the proviso that we keep his anonymity, Roa Dart said he would come into The Echo office and meet me on his "face-to-facebook" and see how things went. (I must have won his trust as I got a hug and we did a photo shoot outside the office.)

Roa Dart is pleased that there now appear to be copycat artists out there, protecting motorists from the worst that wet weather and loose bitumen can produce.

After an incident where he was officially cautioned by the police for spray painting, he is now filling in as many potholes as he can with gravel, sourced from two local quarries that are happy to help out. He said the amazing thing is that when he has filled a pothole and painted around it, the gravel doesn't come out and the hole doesn't grow because cars avoid it.

Councils don't have the money to provide the quality of roads we would like, so Roa Dart will continue with his vigilante works to bring smiles to our faces and protect us from damaging repair costs. Anonymous donations towards the cost of his paints can be made discreetly at The Echo office.



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