In the course of the trip we travelled near enough to 8500k’s. We visited 8 Rotary Clubs. Touched base with another 6 or 8 clubs. Greetings and donations were tendered. We met some amazing Rotarians. In Alice Springs we attended as volunteers at the Rotary Henley On Todd Regatta. We attached ourselves to The Flying Doctor float. Truth is, float it did not do. The regatta takes place in the dry bed of The Todd. (Google Henley on Todd; you’ll see what I mean)Three rotaries work together in putting this on. If I heard correctly, club gains to the extent of $45,000. Plus an incalculable amount of goodwill and esteem in the community.
We had breakfast with Rotary Mbantua (Alice Springs) the Monday immediately following the event. This club won the final naval battle on regatta day. At the Monday breakfast meeting they were all still on a huge high. This is the biggest weekend of the year for Rotary at Alice. Betcha they had an outrageous debriefing before the week was out.
For me, the rotary highlight of the trip was at Tennant Creek. To be hosted for breakfast by the club was amazing, especially as they have only 6 members. But wait there’s more, only two of these six were available to attend the breakfast. These two ladies, two mums, (I say that without apology.) It fast became apparent that not only were these two holding their families together, but these two lady Rotarians were virtually holding the town together. The mine has closed, and because there are no jobs in the town, the men have pretty well migrated to where there might be jobs. Many went to Mt Isa. The Rotary membership is quite fluid as a result. It seems that the only continuity in the town, and in Rotary of course, was provided by these inspirational ladies.
At Tennant Creek our group had a project to donate books to the school. Not surprisingly Tennant Creek School is suffering the same malaise as the town. There seems to be a problem in attracting long term senior staff. Little wonder, this really is way back in the outback. We were there at the behest of Flying Doctor, who has an ongoing project to improve indigenous literacy. As a group we presented the school with over 1000 books. The principal had all the school attend the presentation in the hall. Just like any kids the kids of Tennant Creek were so excited to be getting pressies. Many of them sat down on the floor to read their new books, and wouldn’t be shifted. Wide grins were the order of the day. All of the pupils, regardless of their roots, together showing their appreciation, and their lovely white teeth…
Our most spectacular sight, putting aside the obvious, (Uluru, Devils Marbles, The Olgas) was the sight of the mine at Mt Isa. (Google Mt Isa) Along the way we had visited Bourke, the back of Bourke, Broken Hill, Cooper Pedy, Wilpena Pound, the list goes on. Mt Isa though as a spectacle beat the lot. Many k’s before we entered the town we could see the headworks of the mine rearing its head. Once in town, the whole workings were mind blowing, dominating the town and the landscape, as if shouting to all, “look at me, I bring riches to the town.” At 2000 metres deep, over 19 levels, and hundreds of kilometers of tunnels. The deposit is apparently over 2k long, 1k wide, lord alone knows how deep, currently working at 2000 meters.
We were at Mt Isa to make a further presentation to the Royal Flying Doctor Service, to which the benefits of this trip were dedicated. Many cheques were presented; more fellowship and goodwill followed as we were escorted on a tour of the base. We visited RFDS bases in as widespread locations as, Broken Hill, Port Augusta in South Australia and Tennant Creek in Northern Territory, Mt Isa in Queensland, and Alice Springs in Northern Territory. I would hark back to those two ladies who are to all intents and purposes holding the Tennant Creek community together, and acknowledge, as all of Australia does that The Flying Doctor holds the outback community together…. Serving a client somewhere in Australia every 2 minutes.
We are truly grateful to the Rotarians of the Rotary e-Club and our new friends the fellow travelers on this Red Centre Tour for the manner in which they enabled us to see outback Australia in a light that we probably would never have discovered any other way. We sure have a much better appreciation of Australia and the problems the people are facing, and more importantly, we are now most appreciative of what Rotary in Australia is doing at grassroots level to ensure that all Australians may have a share in the recovery of Australia from the effects of the economic recession.
She’s a big country mate; and a great one.
Thank you so much for allowing us the pleasure to join you all on that wonderful journey. To spend so much time together in such a large group in perfect harmony is very special.
Ian and Heather are to be congratulated.
No doubt most of you are now settled back into your normal life style.
Our memories of the past couple of months will remain with us for ever.
Thank you good friends.
Back home and readjusting to normality, while talking and showing the results of our travels to friends they are amazed at the distance we travelled and the places we enjoyed.
The real and lasting highlight was the company, companionship and camaraderie of the travelling team. Be sure to make contact when visiting the ever changing always amazing Gold Coast. We look forward to catching up.