Story by Kendrea Rhodes. Photos courtesy of the RFDS.
Stories about the Royal Flying Doctor Service (RFDS) usually conjure feelings of pride and wonder. As Australian’s we are rightly proud of a world class aero-medical and health care system that spans this enormous country for the good of the people. And we wonder at the seemingly miraculous ways that the RFDS help people in need against all odds. More than 250,000 patient contacts occur every year, that’s one person every two minutes of the day, 365 days a year.
Using the latest in aviation, medical and communications technology, the RFDS delivers extensive 24-hour emergency services and health care across Australia. In addition to 35,000 flights each year, RFDS aircraft and crews are also kept busy conducting 40 health clinics each week day in rural and remote areas. They also provide medical chests to isolated communities, radio and telephone consultations and a Rural Women’s GP. Without this contact, these people would otherwise be forced to drive hundreds of kilometres to see a doctor, if at all.
While supported by Governments, the RFDS relies on fundraising and donations from the community to purchase and equip its aircraft. There are 28 fund raising groups in South Australia alone, who managed to raise a record $640,000 last year. However fantastic this figure is, it falls far short of the cost of even one medically equipped Pilatus PC-12 aircraft at six million dollars each. Five aircraft need to be replaced in South Australia, so the fund raising groups are hard at it.
‘The RFDS Adelaide Hills Support Group’ is a new fund raising group, formed earlier this year. Instigated by “Cobby” Bob Ross from Mt. Torrens, the group meets on the first Tuesday of the month at The Charleston Hotel at 7pm and welcomes any new members. Their sole function is to raise funds for the RFDS and the fourteen dedicated members are already well on the way to doing just that, with a music festival planned for Oakbank in November.
Cobby Bob’s motives behind raising money for the RFDS are personal. He is repaying a debt, for without the aid of the RFDS, Bob would surely have died of appendicitis in the Kimberley’s, not to mention broken legs, arms and burns. Each time the RFDS have been there for Bob and now it’s his turn.
Bob Ross was born in a remote QLD drovers’ camp and has lived his life in the saddle. Story telling has always been a part of outback living and when you’re working properties as far away as Cape Yorke, it’s a good source of entertainment. Bob said the rule of the bush is to learn many trades because sometimes you only have yourself to rely on. He has been a pilot, fisherman, sailor, leatherworker, horsebreaker, stockman, and is a Vietnam Veteran. Currently he works as a gardener, but has been a bush poet for over 40 years. When asked why poetry, he said with a smile, “telling a yarn in rhyme is something people do out bush. But I can’t sing and have no talent for music, so I write and recite poetry. I can play the harmonica though!”
Cobby Bob has performed at many a music festival around the country and is one of the local artists performing at Oakbank. The bill for this festival is full, diverse and fun. From country, blues, jazz, cover bands, comedians, poets, rock and folk music. Among them, is local Birdwood lass, Flo Bourke, who will move you with her WWI remembrance songs. Briony Scott from Mt. Torrens will dazzle you with her jazz rendition of “That Old Black Magic” and Gonzo (the snakeman from Lobethal) will have you toe tapping to Kenny Rogers’ “The Gambler”. Then there’s the walking juke-box himself, Ron Hashim from Adelaide and many marvellous acts coming from the Blanchtown music festival, such as Heartland, Sugar & Spice and the Limestone Balladeers. Only a few artists have been mentioned here, but all of them have donated their time for this cause.
The stage consists of two truck trailers and tarpaulins, which have been donated by Lobethal Freight Liners. These will be placed in the centre of the Oakbank race track for the artists to perform upon, from 11am until midnight. Many generous donations from local businesses and the community have gone into this venture. You might be asking yourself, “What can I do to support the Flying Doctor?” That’s easy; go along to the first Oakbank Music Fest on Saturday 21st of November. Tickets are available at the gate and there will be food, drinks, art and craft stalls throughout the day, along with free camping if you want to stay overnight. Bring a rug to sit on, so you can relax and listen to quality Australian artists, all the while feeling good about raising money for the Royal Flying Doctors.
The RFDS provides a lifeline from every remote corner of the country and help to make travel and living in the outback, a safer option for everyone. Please visit the website www.flyingdoctors.net for more information or to pledge a donation. For enquiries and bookings about the Oakbank Music Festival, please phone Bob & June on 8389 4484.
*source www.flyingdoctor.net and RFDS Central Operations Incorporated, Mile End, 5031.
The Royal Flying Doctor Service is the largest and most comprehensive aero-medical organisation in the world and has been voted as Australia’s most trusted charity.