Passionate volunteers Keith and Roz Skidmore from Hobart say their experience of lending a hand in the outback has not only provided much-needed assistance to the people they visited but enriched their own lives as well.
The Skidmores are volunteers with the Frontier Services program Outback Links, which matches appropriately skilled and gifted volunteers with people living in rural and remote Australia who could use a helping hand.
Their experience has taken them across the country and given them countless hands-on experiences of life in the bush including delivering the mail via plane to outback stations across the far west of NSW.
“We started volunteering for Outback Links back in 2007 and since then have completed 10 assignments; three in the NT, three in Queensland and four in NSW. All have been very varied and most rewarding,” said Roz Skidmore, a retired teacher.
“We have cooked, gardened, fenced, taken old screws from a station roof and replaced them with new ones, cared for children, pruned, mown, sewn, painted, tutored, care taken, bull dozed and fed cattle, chooks and dogs. We’ve collected and cut wood, weighed cattle and Keith, who is a retired engineer, has fixed farm machinery as well as doing building and odd jobs.”
“On some of the isolated stations, just being there with people and having someone to listen or chew things over with is so important.”
“It?s all been great fun. We enjoyed going up over the lost city in the NT in a muster helicopter and delivering mail to over 20 stations between White Cliffs in NSW and the QLD border with the flying postman.”
The Skidmores say the best part of the experience was meeting the new families and being welcomed into their world.
“I consider it takes great courage and grace to welcome complete strangers into your life and trust them to complete some tasks for you. The families have all made us feel welcome. It’s a win- win situation.”
Frontier Services, an agency of the Uniting Church, has supported people in remote places for 100 years. Outback Links helps to fill the gap in services for people in rural and remote areas. As volunteers lend a hand, they also gain a better understanding of outback Australia, the joys as well as the struggles.