The Royal Flying Doctor Service was the dream of a Presbyterian Minister, Rev John Flynn, who was very concerned for the pioneers living in remote and rural areas where there were just two doctors trying to cover around two million square kilometres. He wanted a better health service for these people and in 1928 his dream became a reality with the RFDS launching in Cloncurry, Queensland.
Still going strong nearly 100 years later, the RFDS continues its great work and with the help of Government funding, working in partnership with companies and donations from within the community, the RFDS is now Australia-wide and owns 61 aircraft. Their pilots annually fly the equivalent of 25 round trips to the moon and their doctors and nurses are responsible for the care and treatment of around 270,000 people, who all live in remote areas and would otherwise be severely challenged during a medical situation or emergency.
It’s good to support this service!
Last Sunday the Warringah Bowling Club held a fundraising event for the RFDS and so off we went to lend our support. Now Carl has a soft-spot for the RFDS because Australia’s pioneer female pilot, Nancy Bird, was one of their pilots. When Nancy Bird was starting her flying career she needed sponsorship and it was Carl’s grandfather who sponsored her plane.
At the fundraising event we met some of the men involved in The Outback Car Trek. This is an annual event where Aussie blokes (most are mechanics and pilots), get into cars and race from one remote outback post to another with each journey taking around seven days to complete. With every race there are rules and one of them is that the cars have to be pre-1978. They are then specifically prepared to endure the rigors of outback road driving.
Next year is the 25th Anniversary of this event and to mark the occasion they are going on a longer trek that will start in Alice Springs and end up in Margaret River via Broome, a journey of over 6,000kms (3,881 miles). (And if you live in Sydney, you can add on another 2,000kms just to get you to the starting line!)
I spent quite a bit of time talking to these men who are not only enthusiastic about their cars but also at seeing Australia by road and getting out to all the remote towns and spending time with true-blue Aussies who live in areas that would rarely see a visitor or have anyone passing through.
They all had the hoods of their cars raised so we could admire the pristine engines and Alfie was given quite a lesson on how engines work and he looked rather dazzled by the end of it. I don’t normally spend a lot of time looking under the hood but what I noticed is that while I might just clean the interior and exterior of my car, these men also clean all those mechanical bits and pieces. The chrome was gleaming! Carl had his Mustang with him (everywhere we go!) and he parked it alongside these other relics but he had to keep his hood down as his ‘under the hood’ was a disgrace by comparison.
After about two hours of shifting my weight from one leg to the other, we left the car enthusiasts and had a wander around the market that had various stalls including the obligatory sausage sizzle that was branching out and also serving bacon and egg rolls.
But the bowling club had competitions on the go and as I was sitting down (to recover from my tour of car engines) the announcer was calling for one more adult to take part in a bowling ‘spider’. They were a player short and all the competitors were lined up on the green waiting and waiting. After a couple of minutes I felt sorry for the poor announcer so I stuck my hand up and said I would help them out. And over the loud speakers came, ‘The lady in the orange is going to join us. Come this way, lady in orange’. Everyone is now looking at the lady in orange. I should have worn something less conspicuous.
We were given a two-minute bowling lesson and told that on the count of three we had to roll the ball towards the little white jack (small ball) and the person whose ball ends up closest to the jack is the winner. Right. Got it. We had two try-outs and I came last in both. Just too much power. My ball shot right past the jack and ended on the other side of the green.
Then it was time for the real thing and restraining the urge to have the fastest rolling ball, I pulled back and set off my ball at a crawling pace. Ladies and gentleman: I was the winner! I actually jumped up and down and clapped my hands but then looked around and no one else was clapping. So I settled down. I won a $120 voucher to a local hairdressing salon for a cut and blow-dry. (I was so relieved it wasn’t a perm and blue-rinse). All going well I will post the results of my make-over.
For the rest of the day there’s every chance I annoyed Alfie by continually saying, ‘Whose mother is the lawn bowls champion?’ Until he said, ‘But winning isn’t everything’. And being a good parent who is concerned with teaching her child important life lessons I said, ‘Alfie, the person who said that never won anything’.
We came home with Carl wanting to take the family on a road trip across the outback, Alfie telling everyone how pistons and engines work and me shouting over everyone else that I was the unopposed lawn bowls champion. And all for a very worthy cause.
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