2011-11-23 08_Shan_nailingJohn and Shan Sharp hadn’t planned to retire early, sell the house and travel Australia, but after a freak storm flooded their home in Charters Towers, North Queensland and John was crippled with debilitating arthritis, they needed a new lease on life.

Not used to being idle John, a fitter and turner, knew that he couldn’t work, but also knew he was still useful. After they started travelling, both John’s spirits and recovery picked up considerably.

“I knew I was not employable, but I also knew there was so much that I could give,” said John.

When they found out about the Frontier Services program Outback Links that matches volunteers with families with needs in the bush, they were sold.

Shan and John contacted the Outback Links team, and began merging their adventures around Australia with supporting isolated families.

Their help was needed recently in a property in Leonora, Western Australia as the owner was recovering from a right shoulder reconstruction. Their job, as explained by the owner’s wife was to keep her husband sane by helping out with the tasks he physically could not do, such as driving and ensuring the smooth running of the property. This mainly fell to John and he spent the majority of his stint at the property driving around its expansive one million acres checking on feed, water and cattle while receiving a running commentary from Peter on various plants and the history of the land.

“Why spend money on expensive four-wheel-drive drive tours and trips when you can have a holiday on the land and help someone out?” said John.

At another property in WA, Shan’s experience of raising six children was needed as the parents of two children and a five-day old newborn were both recovering from significant illnesses.

Shan states that often it is not big things that are needed, but the little things that really count to an isolated family.

“It is the companionship and just being there, the conversation around the dinner table and hanging the washing on the line. Just having an extra pair of hands makes a massive difference.”

“Often people don’t know how they can help, or if they have the right skills, but people are matched up to the specific needs of the family and every property is so different and every need is so different,” said Shan.

“It’s the icing on the cake when we’re travelling Australia. We recommend Outback Links to everyone at any age.”

Frontier Services Outback Links aims to reduce isolation and disadvantage experienced by people living in Outback Australia by linking volunteers with outback people, who could use a helping hand. To find out more about Outback Links call 1300 731 349 or email

Acknowledgement of Country

Frontier Services acknowledges the sovereign First Peoples on whose lands and waters we live, meet, and work.

We pay our respects to their Elders past and present and to all descendants of these Nations who have cared for this place since Creation.