Member Report- Jane Loxton

Travelling with a Purpose

The privilege of serving an Australian icon which boasts it provides “The furthest corner. The finest care”, is richly rewarding, fascinating and greatly appreciated.

Every 2 minutes someone within 85% of the Australian landmass is served by the Royal Flying Doctor Service. 

On 26th of July 2014 the Rotary E-Club of NextGen started their Red Centre Tag Along Tour from St. George, Queensland, and on the 30th of August after covering well over 6,500 Kilometres, returned to Roma, Queensland via the red centre of Australia.

People joined the Tour at various locations or did part of the Tour, then going on their way. Thanks to the amazing fine tuning and extra organising by Ian and Heather Yarker even my dog Ralf came along too.

There were 7 Motorhomes, 12 Cars towing Caravans, a Fifth-wheeler and for part of the Tour a Red Sports car with tent. A few of the people knew each other but soon we were all best of travel friends and eagerly waiting for the next Tour. People came from New Zealand, Tasmania, Victoria, N.S.W. and Queensland.

Most of the group were Rotarians but along the way that number increased by 3 with Angelo and Sheryl Carlotto inducted at the Mt. Isa Rotary meeting and Glenice Taylor at the Longreach Rotary meeting as enthusiasm to join our E-Club could not come soon enough.

The Tour was based around raising funds and a greater understanding for the Royal Flying Doctor Service plus visiting their locations at Broken Hill, Alice Springs, Longreach and also Mt. Isa, where previously the E-Club had renovated several houses for the Flying Doctor Service. We were warmly welcomed at all these centres and given exclusive tours of behind the scenes by Doctors, Nurses and Pilots. Donations were made at all centres.

Every day of change of location and scenery alone was a highlight along with the fun and fellowship of all Tour participants. Many Birthdays and Anniversaries were celebrated, games played and the professional entertainment by Kenn who provided a good reason for us to sing and dance.

One couples scenic flight didn't land on the runway while being watched by other Tour members waiting for their flight. Thankfully their recovery from shock and a fractured collarbone did not deter them from continuing the Tour with a bit of help at first. They even continued on to Birdsville following the Tour.

The importance of the Flying Doctor Service hit home when members of our Tour came across a fatal single car accident near Kings Canyon. It became "the Rotarians are here, it's all under control" from the essential services when they arrived as our members took up rolls of comforter, first aid and traffic controller. The Flying Doctor Service transferred the injured to Alice Springs hospital where some tour members continued to visit them and ultimately met the Korean parents and handed over.

Where did we go? The following list will sound like "I've been everywhere" but these are only the places where we stopped overnight.

St.George, Lightening Ridge, Rossmore Cattle Station, Cawkers Well Station, Broken Hill, Flinders Rangers, Pimba, Coober Pedy, Northern Territory and South Australian border rest area, Yulara, Kings Canyon, Fink River Crossing, Alice Springs, Devils Marbles, Barkly Roadhouse, Mt. Isa, Fullarton River, Winton, Longreach, Springsure, Carnarvon Gorge and Roma.

We visited private properties to view a feedlot, Cubbie Station, a specially constructed Cricket Pitch for an International Rotarian Cricketers Fellowship match. Rotary Clubs welcomed us at their meetings or arranged special events for us at Lightening Ridge, Broken Hill, Alice Springs, Tennant Creek, Mt. Isa and Longreach.

Tour members helped the Rotary Clubs in Alice Springs with the Henley on Todd Regatta and took part in the Parade down the Todd Mall.  At Tennant Creek our vehicles became considerably lighter when we delivered more than 1000 books to the Primary School as part of an Indigenous Literacy  Rotary Foundation Grant supported Project which included funding from Mt Isa Club and the E-Club.

While all the tour commitments were being constantly checked by Ian and Heather Yarker they were also coordinating the Charleville Flying Doctor Service project where the new hangar and transfer station was being landscaped by Rotary volunteers led by Peter and Gloria Cory from Goondiwindi Club, as well as some provisioning planning for the E-Club’s Birdsville Race week catering.

For Charleville, Rotarian volunteers came from Goondiwindi, Goonellabah, Alstonville, Stanthorpe, Ashmore and the E-Club. For Birdsville, Rotarian volunteers and friends came from Tamborine Mountain, Mt Isa, Ashmore, Bundaberg West, Bundaberg, West Pennant Hills, Goonellabah, Warwick Sunrise and the E-Club.  

The Tour and the projects would not have been the same without the Yarker’s input and everyone expressed their gratitude for the amazing way things happened quietly behind the scenes so everything ran so smoothly.

Jane Loxton PP, PHF

Rotary E-Club Member and Tour, Charleville and Birdsville Participant.