Grandparents’ generosity extends outback

17 January 2012

P1030597There is no doubt about the generosity – or the adventurous spirit - of the grandparents living in West Gippsland.

Drouin couple Jean and Graeme Thorpe spent 10 days helping out on a remote 68,000 acre property in Queensland late last year as volunteers with the Frontier Services program Outback Links.

The program provides volunteer support to families living in isolated parts of Australia who need a helping hand for a short time.

It was the Thorpes’ second volunteer stint with the family living near Mitchell in south west Queensland.

IMG 0076Amazingly, only the week before they left, they came across another Drouin couple, Lea and Anne Caldwell, also grandparents, who were volunteers with Outback Links on the exact same property.

The four were able to share a coffee and trade stories about their travels and adventures.

Only a few months before, grandparents Denis and June Bright, from Warragul, also completed an Outback Links placement. They provided a helping hand for a family on a cattle station west of Townsville.

Mrs Thorpe said being an Outback Links volunteer gave them the opportunity to experience a completely different way of life and at the same time provide some much needed help for families who live in very remote areas.

On their most recent trip they were able to look after the property, including 15 calves and eight dogs, while the mother and father travelled to Geelong and Brisbane to see two of their daughters graduate from tertiary studies.

“We had a few adventures while we were there,” said Mrs Thorpe.

With some heavy flooding in the region, at one point the two access points to the property were completely flooded in.

“We had a ute on one side of the creek and the dinghy set up on the other side and that was how we managed to get across.”

They fed the calves twice a day, four calves at time, and also helped out in the garden.

Grandparents of six, Mr and Mrs Thorpe, aged 75 and 76, have been volunteers with Outback Links for five years.

“We love the outback (and) the people are lovely. The enriching part is getting to know people and becoming a part of their life. We go and do whatever needs to be done.”

Outback Links has more than 1000 volunteers from all over Australia. The program provided assistance for almost 500 families last year.

Find out more about Outback Links.