AN OUTBACK rally got off to a flying start from Tamworth with more than 120 crews looking to fill the coffers for a life-saving service.
The annual outback trek which raises millions of dollars for the Royal Flying Doctor Service chose Tamworth as the starting-line for its 2018 rally.
While the trek, in its 28th year, has been a lucrative loot-raiser for the service, organiser Bill Patrick suggested the first pit-stop had been profitable for Tamworth too.
“It’s a town that everyone wants to come to, an awful lot of people have been through, but not spent the night,” Mr Patrick said.
“What I noticed this year, a lot of people got here on Wednesday and Thursday, rather than Saturday afternoon.”
Crews from around the country band together for the trek, and while the party-line is centred on “doing it for the doctors” there was an air of unabashed revelry among the 128 crews which departed from Wests on Sunday.
There was no denying everyone was there to have fun and party, Mr Patrick said, but he emphasised it was about more than raising cash and having a ball.
“The absolute first pillar is you got to have fun, secondly, we take people to places they’d never go to, we’re off the beaten track,” he said.
“The third is to make sure we leave a very positive social impact on the town’s we visit.
“It’s all underpinned by a very strong ‘no dickheads’ policy.
“Everyone’s having fun, everyone’s here to party within the rules and just don’t be an idiot.”
A doctor and nurse from the service also hit the road as part of trek and joining the rally has revealed the wider level of support for their aerial assistance in Australia.
“It’s clear everyone has a sort of connection to the flying doctor, in the short time I’ve worked for the service, you come across people here, there and everywhere whose lives have been touched,” Dr Andy Caldin said.
“It gives you a real idea of how important the flying doctor is for people who live with their families and little children hundreds of kilometres from any kind of medical help.”
The trek travelled to Inverell on Sunday and will cross the Queensland border on Monday before stopping at Meandarra.
The drive will meander more than 3500km through Queensland before heading towards its finish line at Airlie Beach on Saturday.
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