Ian and Judy Tregenza, from Penola in South Australia, travelled to an outback cattle station in Queensland earlier this year to lend a hand to a family they had never met.
The retirees, who have 14 grandchildren, are volunteers with the Frontier Services program Outback Links which provides support to people living in remote Australia.
“There is so much need out there, especially after the flooding,” said Mr Tregenza.
Outback Links volunteers assist remote families with added pressures such as a sickness in the family, drought, flooding, financial strain or simply getting through the busy season with no or limited access to any other support.
Seasoned travellers, Mr and Mrs Tregenza, aged 72 and 71, travelled to the cattle station in Central Queensland, riding in their four-wheel-drive with a tray-top camper attached. The nearest town to the station, Collinsville, was more than an hour’s drive from the property.
The Tregenzas were there to provide extra hands for the young family on the station during the busy mustering season.
The station had 6000 cattle on 85,000 acres, so a large part of the mustering was done by helicopter.
With lots of work to be done on the station, Mrs Tregenza was able to assist the family by minding the two small children, aged three and 14 months. Having her there meant both parents could be out working on the property.
“They were beautiful children. Typical country kids,” said Mrs Tregenza. “They have to fit in with what’s going on around the property so (when needed) they could entertain themselves.”
She also helped with ironing, washing, cleaning the pantry and fridge and doing all the jobs that get pushed to the side when it is mustering time.
Meanwhile, Mr Tregenza, a former bricklayer, helped out on the property.
He mowed the lawn around the homestead twice, a job that had to be done regularly because of snakes. He also “discovered the orchard”, which had grown over and needed some significant pruning. They both weeded the garden.
To Mr Treganza’s delight, he was also able to assist in the cattle yards.
“It was really great to be in there with the action,” Mr Tregenza said. “It was just full on all the time.”
The two families got on extremely well and the Tregenzas said their efforts were much appreciated.
“We could not have been made to feel more welcome,” said Mrs Tregenza. “We thought we’d go for a week but we ended up staying for 12 days; we were so busy.”
They said the experience had given them an even greater appreciation for the lifestyle and also the hardships in remote areas, such as accessing medical help and dealing with loneliness and isolation.
They recommended others to consider becoming volunteers with Outback Links as a completely different way to experience the bush, although Mrs Treganza gentlywarned; “It is no good for a girl who wants to go shopping.”
Go to the Outback Links website for more information or phone 1300 731 349.