A walk on the west side

When I joined The Road Ahead team recently, I had visions of travelling around the globe and writing about my experiences.

Oh, how my mind revelled at the thought of where I would be sent. Would I be lucky enough to test drive the newest Lamborghinis around Japan, or be sent on an African safari and see the world’s biggest predators up close and personal?

In hindsight, I realise I had lofty expectations. Which is why my first assignment — to head west to Cunnamulla — left my rose-coloured glasses a little foggy. Being a born and bred city boy, my experience of the outback was limited to school camps and a few misspent nights in my youth (that’s another story entirely).

Being the new kid on the block, I swallowed my doubts and accepted the opportunity to join the team on RACQ Foundation’s third Drought Assistance Project.

It was a good decision — meeting the farmers and hearing their stories proved to be one of the most rewarding experiences of not only my career, but my life.

During the trip, we travelled across outback Queensland to service vehicles and provide support to drought-stricken farmers Bobby Quinlan, Robyn Russell and Pos Peskett.

I felt a certain affinity towards Bobby, who reminded me of my late grandfather. At 65-years-of age, Bobby has never let ailing health conditions, such as major heart surgery in 2016, or severe drought keep him from his family’s land.

I live my life by one rule — never stop running.

“The drought has affected everybody.

“We’re all in the same old boat; it’s just a tough old gig.

“Some have been forced to leave their land but most of us have never thought of stepping away — what else would you do?

“It’s all I know, and I for one am very happy doing it.”

 

There are no holidays or reprieve for these farmers, just work to be done and a livelihood they are determined to continue fighting for.

Just the slightest help or quip over a ‘smoko’ was enough to brighten their day. Seeing firsthand how we, as a Club, are helping Queenslanders is why I’ve already raised my hand for the next RACQ Foundation Drought Assistance Project.

In May 2016, the RACQ Foundation funded six volunteers to go to Longreach to help drought-affected farmers. They repaired more than 50 pieces of farming equipment, including vehicles.