Tina and Max Zalakos can tell you first hand that living in the outback can be tough. Not because they experience it every day, but because for two months they were the helping hand for a family living in the Gascoyne region of Western Australia, providing the extra support they needed while recovering from a devastating flood on their outback property.
The Zalakos’ volunteered with the Frontier Services Outback Links program after hearing about it through their church community. Outback Links aims to reduce isolation and disadvantage in rural and remote parts of Australia by linking appropriately skilled and gifted volunteers with outback people, who could use a helping hand.
The Zalakos’ were ‘linked’ with the Burt family, initially for a fortnight last September. The connection was such a good one, they extended their placement, staying for two months and making lifelong friends.
The Burt’s half a million acre property was flood-ravaged. Hundreds of miles of precious fencing was damaged, stock was scattered and the emotional aftermath and reality of the cost of the floods had begun to take their toll.
The recovery was made more difficult as, being so remote, there were only a few mobile fencing units which could erect the fences.
During the two month placement, the Zalakos’ slept in their caravan and came into the family home in the morning. They helped out by cooking breakfast, washing dishes, looking after the kids and just generally lending a hand to make life on a remote property that little bit easier.
“I think it’s a great organisation. There are a lot of people hurting out there with drought and floods and fires. The placement gave us an understanding of how terribly difficult it is to stay in the country sometimes,” said Tina Zalakos.
The Burts had nothing but praise for the Zalakos’.
“We couldn’t have asked for a better couple to come and help us out. They have raised their own family and just knew what to do,” they said.
“Their help in the wake of the flood meant so much to us. They were steady and reliable and able to work beside us with no fuss.
“Max and Tina are fantastic people and will be very much missed here. It is a shame they live so far away and can’t just pop in for a cuppa and a chat. They are so welcomed back.”
The two couples have remained close friends and continue to keep in touch with one another and phone every few weeks.