Outback Car Trek

From Bondi to the bush: 31st Outback Car Trek supports RFDS to bring health equality to regional Aus

Date published

11 Mar 2020

If you happen to get sick living in Bondi, help is at your fingertips with more than 37 GPs available to you within a 3km radius. Many GPs would be able to fit you in on the same day and you would be on the mend in no time - and if not, a major hospital is a 15-minute drive away. 

Meanwhile, for those living in Cobar NSW, there only three GPs available in an area of 45,609 square kilometres, and the nearest hospital is a three-hour drive away.

The help you may need in a time of sickness or injury can be very difficult to access.

The Royal Flying Doctor Service (RFDS) is dedicated to improving health outcomes for people living in rural and remote Australia. The charity is best known for outback emergency retrievals, but importantly delivers vital healthcare such as GP clinics, mental and dental health, breast care, women and children’s health, drug/alcohol counselling and chronic disease screening, among other services.

This life-saving work is made possible by generous supporters. The Outback Car Trek has been holding a spotlight to these issues every year since 1990, raising over $30 million for the Royal Flying Doctor Service in the process.

On the 11th of March 2020 the 31st Outback Car Trek will be launched with a display of trek cars at the Bondi Pavilion.

Trekkers and RFDS staff will come together to raise awareness of the disadvantages that people living in rural and remote Australia face when trying to access simple medical treatment, and to celebrate what the RFDS is doing to bridge the gap.

‘The RFDS is always there for regional and remote communities in their time of need, and it’s important that people in metro areas support that work,’ said organiser Bill Patrick. ‘We are committed to raising money for our friends in the bush, that’s why we are down at Bondi today, sharing the message and giving the public a chance to have a look at some of our unique 2WD cars and chat to some of the trekkers.’

The 2020 Outback Car Trek will travel through Cobar and other points in remote NSW and QLD.

‘It’s also a great opportunity to sign up for this year’s trek, with only 80 days until we get underway,’ said Mr Patrick.

Mike Wheatley has been supporting the Flying Doctor on every single trek for the last 30 years. ‘I wouldn’t miss it for the world,’ he said.

‘People living in the outback just don’t have the same opportunities and access to healthcare as we do here in the city. The RFDS is working to bring equality to the bush. It’s important we support them as best we can.’

Apart from their contribution to the RFDS, the 100+ car convoy will also provide a welcome financial boost for the many small towns they will pass through.

According to Bill Patrick, hundreds of hungry and thirsty trekkers spend some $575,000 each year in regional towns – and that’s not counting the many thousands of dollar trekkers tip into the bucket when they hear of a good local cause that needs support.


Access to quality healthcare for Australians living in rural and remote locations, such as Cobar, is significantly lower than metropolitan areas due to distance, costs, and transport availability. As a result, the life expectancy for residents in regional towns is two years lower than those in the city. Too often minor and easily treatable health concerns can become chronic issues because of the lack of access to early detection and treatment.

In the bush, hospital admission rates due to diabetes are four times the urban admission rate and rural Australians have death rates that are double the urban rate due to injury, triple due to road accidents and double due to falls in the aged. They also have a lower chance of surviving cancer and are more likely to die by suicide.

• The Sydney suburbs of Bondi and Bondi Beach are a lot smaller than you’d think with a footprint of just over 2km2 combined.
• Cobar Shire covers a vast 45,609 km2 (an area which is approximately two thirds the size of Tasmania).


The Outback Car Trek is an annual event that donates the funds it raises each year to The Royal Flying Doctor Service. The Trek is an event for older 2WD cars, and all of the cars are specially prepared to cope with the fun of outback and remote dirt road driving.

Just about anybody can enter the Outback Car Trek so please, don't be shy, for more information contact Bill Patrick on 0418 626 799 or billp@outbackcartrek.com.au


The not-for-profit Royal Flying Doctor Service has been taking the finest care to the furthest corners of Australia since 1928. The service provides 24-hour emergency cover to 90% of the Australian continent, via a modern fleet of specially equipped aircraft.

For more information or photographs, contact:
Lily Cardis, Communications Coordinator, RFDS (South Eastern Section) on 0436 622 802 or lily.cardis@rfdsse.org.au

Photographs and a VNR will be available from the launch on 11th of March upon request.