Not just a one-way street

17 May 2013


Graeme feeding LambsSuper Grandads. Makeover masters. Bush Angels. There are probably many titles you could give to these two volunteers but they usually go by just one name.

This week, Grahame Rumballe and Graeme Kenwrick, two retirees from Brisbane, returned home from another volunteer placement with Outback Links.

In the past five years, they have volunteered 14 times across the outback, mostly in Queensland, supporting families who need a helping hand for a short time.

“We tell everyone you only have to remember one name and if you yell it out, you will get one of us to come and help,” said Grahame.

With Grahame coming from a mechanical background and Graeme having electrical skills, together they make a pretty handy team, particularly for families living on large remote properties where it is almost impossible to get tradespeople to fix things around the home.

The duo have given much needed assistance to people in all kinds of situations, from helping out after flooding to installing 20 kilometres of fencing at a time.

They share the driving, alternatively taking one of their utes for the trip, helping out for two weeks or so at a time.

Last week, they supported a couple on a sheep and cattle station in central Queensland. They spent a large part of their time making repairs in the historic, but worn-down, homestead, to make it more comfortable for the family to live in.

Amazingly in two weeks they managed to take down all the doors, trim them to the right size and reinstall them with locks, fix holes in the floor, fit new taps in the bathroom, replace the timber and gauze screens on the veranda windows and install new guttering.

They also fixed motorbikes that were not working, repaired a water pump from the dam and bottle-fed nine lambs.

“At our age we have a lot of experience to offer - we know a little bit about everything. The families out there are so focused on what’s happening on the property. It’s the little every day jobs that get put off to a rainy day and the rainy day never comes,” said Graeme.

Although they do not like to admit how much fun they have on their outback volunteer trips in case their wives find out, the two friends say there are plenty of rewards.

“We love it. It is not only a one way street. The families are not the only recipient, we are too. We learn a lot from them. When they know you are interested, they tell you and show you a whole lot more. Everybody is a winner,” said Graeme.

The pair see it as a way they can give direct, hands on help.

“It’s a help out, rather than a hand out,” said Grahame. “Really, it is a drop in the ocean to us, a couple of weeks out of 50 weeks, but it certainly makes a difference to them.”

This week Frontier Services has been celebrating the contribution made by all our volunteers as part of National Volunteer Week.