Ex-Dairy Farmers put their spare hands to good use

21 September 2011

SDC10524Alstonville grandparents Gwen and Ron Hellyar travelled more than 1500km to help out a family in Outback Queensland.

They travelled to a sheep and cattle station, northwest of Longreach, to provide an extra set of hands for a remote family. It was their second experience as Outback Links volunteers.

“We look on it as going on an adventure rather than going to do work,” Mrs Hellyar said. “You give a helping hand when they need it and it enables us to see other parts of Australia.”

The Hellyars, who are ex-dairy SDC10504farmers, spent three weeks on the property, 110km from the nearest town, Winton, half of that distance on a dirt and gravel road.

Mr Hellyar said he was struck by the enormity of the properties he visited, some as big as 30,000 acres.

“It is a totally different experience. You’ve got community all around you here, but they’re miles away from anybody,” he said.

The couple offered assistance wherever they could as the family were in the process of moving to a new station while still running the business and caring for their two boys aged five and seven.

Mrs Hellyar helped at home with cooking, cleaning and childminding. Mr Hellyar did odd maintenance jobs around the house and also gave a hand with work on the station.

“There is certainly a vast gap between city and country in relation to how things are managed,” he said. “It was a really interesting experience to see how people live. You’re there helping people but you get something out of it yourself.”

Mrs Hellyar said it opened her eyes to the pressures on women in remote Australia.

“The young mum we assisted is their mother, she is their teacher, they run a big property and she does all the books, plus running a home. It’s really emotionally draining.”

“It’s the little things, like when they go shopping they buy 12 loaves of bread at a time. They don’t run into town to buy milk.”

When it came time to leave, the family were teary-eyed as they said good-bye.

“It was very heart warming to know we might have had an impact. They were extremely appreciative of the help we gave,” Mrs Hellyar said. “Everyone needs a shoulder to lean on some time, and we’ve all got a shoulder we can lend.”