On the first of September Rotary E-Club of NextGen, Queensland, members and friends found their way to Birdsville with a refrigerated truck and stores truck which left from the Gold Coast.
After doing over 6,000 kilometres on a Red Centre Tag Along Tour some continued on to Charleville where E-Club friends were helping landscape the new Royal Flying Doctor Service Base at the Charleville Airport. On the second of September this group did the 843 kilometre journey West on mainly one lane of bitumen which finally turned into dirt for the last 300 kilometres. The experienced ones had four wheel drives leaving their caravans at Charleville whereas I took my motor home which was not a recommended choice (my first and last time on a dirt road for my home).
After leaving Windorah population of 80, the landscape rapidly turned dry, barren and inhospitable with some gibber rocks left after the soli had been blown away.
The RFDS had a food tent with the mission to not only raise money and promote their organisation but also provide food which was value for money. This entailed about 15 Rotary volunteers with bright red RFDS volunteer polo shirts serving up bacon and egg rolls, sausages and onion in bread and salad steak rolls. Starting at 6.30 am and finishing at 9 pm, with 2 in the preparation area, as the lettuce, tomatoes and onions were fresh, 4 in the BBQ area, 1 or 2 taking orders and 2 to 3 preparing the orders became the normal daily routine from Wednesday afternoon till late on Saturday.
On Wednesday morning while I was getting a new spare tyre, a normal event on the road to Birdsville, Rotarians volunteered as marshals for the fun run, complete with safety jacket and 2 way radio.
On Thursday evening some of us helped at the RFDS Cocktail Party for 350 guests, serving the complimentary first drink and the endless supply of delicious food. With our name badges in place everyone at the event were very friendly and appreciated our service.
The little town of Birdsville some 150 people for one week a year are host to 7,000 people with most of the surrounding area covered with tents, vehicles, buses and planes.
Along with the fresh food, fruit and drink sales many of our customers were very generous with donations into the strategically placed donation stations at the food tent.
I left the packing up to the others on Saturday evening and left at 8pm with the others leaving at 11pm. I crawled my way back over now a very corrugated dirt road, thankfully with no one throwing stones as they passed as there was no traffic, to Windorah where after a distance of 368 km I arrived at 4am.
At 6am with the company of the others I continued on to Quilpy where I stayed while the others continued another 456 km to Charleville and then on their way home.
The Monday while in Quilpy returning from Birdsville was a 3 trailer Road Train full of blue portable toilets. Unfortunately I was not quick enough with the camera.
The great fun and at times hard work put in by everyone who volunteered was a testimony to the Rotary spirit of Service Above Self and an experience that I will never forget.
Jane Loxton PP, PHF
Member of the Rotary E-Club NextGen, Queensland