The 24th Annual Outback Car Trek left Bathurst on Sunday, 2 June. For 7 days, over 300 participants will travel 3,300 kms in pre-1978 cars through Outback NSW and Queensland en route to Coolum on Queensland’s Sunshine Coast in aid of the Royal Flying Doctor Service (RFDS) who are celebrating their 85th anniversary this year.
The Outback Trek has raised around $20 million for the RFDS since its inception in 1990 and last year raised in excess of $1.4 million – an amount it hopes to match or even better this year.
The following is an account by Nick Bleszynski from the RFDS of life on the road with the Outback Trek (OBT).
Day 3 – Outback Trek
Thankfully, Day 3 was bright and sunny, which helped to dry out the roads after the storms of the weekend. For the first time, the Trek did not pass through a town during the day in the whole day. Lunch was taken in a small but thriving Aboriginal community of Weilmoringle, just over the Queensland border. It’s tiny school only has a handful of pupils. The Shrek, Cockroach and Westpac Where’s Wally? novelty cars again prove a big hit with the local kids.
Day 3 ended with a proper sit-down dinner at the local St Patrick’s Hall in the town of St George. Having spent the first two nights in the bush under canvas it was the first shower and shave for most trekkers in three days. Hot water never felt so good.
An address by a member of the RFDS Queensland board and formerly a GP in the town , reminded us just what a vital role the RFDS plays in these communities. The RFDS provides an air ambulance service between St George and the regional hospitals, but provides clinic and emergency services to many of the outlying areas we have just passed through and been made welcome in. There are also new services – a dental van for remote communities and a new GP service in Charleville.
Bill Patrick reminded us of one of the important secondary functions of the Trek. The arrival of 300+ people in small communities, often with few shops and services, gives them a focal point and injects much needed funds into ailing rural economies -something we were all acutely aware of during the first few nights.
The night ends with the news that the Just Cuts Cut-o-Rama raised $7,000 on the first night in Bathurst and the fabled Auction Night.
For further updates on the OBT, follow the trekkers on their Facebook page.