Veterans getaway opened
THE start of a renewed support program for returned veterans and first responders will start at Alaric Outback Retreat in Adavale as soon as the Coronavirus pandemic restrictions are lifted.
Providing a place for like-experienced men and women from all generations to meet in a supported environment, much in the same way as they would meet in a drop-in centre, can make the world of difference to serving defence force personnel, veterans and first responders suffering from PTSD.
"You can go out there where you aren't in the same place looking at the same things," said Alaric president Ted Robinson, 71, who aged 17 served in the Army's 102 and 105 Batteries during the Vietnam War from 1968 and 1969.
"It's very quiet. Calming. Other people are there who understand and know what you are going through.
"We don't offer counselling; it's done by somebody there who knows what you are going through." It's often that shoulder to shoulder conversation between generations that makes all the difference.
Ted said during the last year while welcoming visitors to the old site, he had about seven men and women talk to him about their problems.
"It can be quite confronting what they are dealing with," he said. "They find when they go out there it gives them a break from what's in their mind."
Ted remembers from the early days a bloke dropping into the veterans centre at Maroochydore. He didn't remember the fellow, but he did remember the message the veteran had for Ted - "I have just come back from Alaric; it saved my life. Thanks".
The original Alaric Outback Retreat was located nearby but after 14 years access to that property has ceased forcing the charitable group to find a new location.
Drive due west of the Sunshine Coast for about 12 hours across the flat open outback along the Warrego Highway to the little town of Adavale which, on a good day, has a population of maybe 20 people. It's about 100kms to the next town.
Luckily about 20 years ago Ted stopped there for a cool ale. Not long after that Ted and some mates bought two town blocks. On it was a 1920s hut with what Ted describes as about two inches of horse manure in it that needing cleaning out.
"We bought it for $200 off the Council as they had reclaimed it because of rates," Ted said. "We are going to transfer everything over there and turn that into the retreat."
Ted said the quaint hut will stay and be the relaxed meeting place for visiting veterans and responders who can set up camp nearby or stay in a provided donga.
Nearby is the town pub which serves meals.
"Adavale sits on about 3000 acres. People can do what they like on the Common. There are great fishing holes nearby. They can ride motorbikes over the Common. There is also an active sport and recreation club that has tennis courts and does socials every week or two.
"It will still be a retreat, going out to the outback and leaving all your problems behind, but we won't be providing that level of accommodation that we did at Alaric."
A nominal fee to stay at Adavale will charged for the veterans, first responders and their family members.
As Ted loads up the work truck to head back out west to continue preparing for the start of a new era for Alaric Outback Retreat, the big-hearted man admits helping his fellow man is in his DNA.
"(Alaric) has saved so many people's lives and it's well-known around Australia; we can't let it die," he added.
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