Graphic: AOOB for RFDS
"An asset, a plus and a must" is how Carnarvon resident John Wheelock describes the RFDS' 'mantle of safety'. The feeling is mutual for the RFDS towards one of our longest and highly valued supporters - the Australasian Order of Old Bastards in Carnarvon.
Graphic: Carnarvon AOOB
John is the president of the Australasian Order of Old Bastards in Carnarvon - a legendary group of 20 working volunteers who tirelessly activate their community to recycle and fundraise for WA charities, including the RFDS, through the Containers for Change initiative.
Committed and passionate supporters of the WA Flying Doctor, the Old Bastards in Carnarvon have raised over $500,000 since 1995 and have played a pivotal role in helping the RFDS grow over time.
John said the Old Bastards primarily raised money by collecting and sorting cans and plastic water bottles, preparing numerous wool bale bags full of aluminium for collection and transportation to Perth.
A proud recipient of the Containers for Change 2021 Change Maker Awards, more than 23 tonnes of recyclable waste has been kept out of Carnarvon's landfill, thanks to the efforts of the Old Bastards.
Graphic: rubbish collection AOOB
A large part of the Old Bastards' success, which has been going strong in Carnarvon since 1982, can be attributed to its strong and fun connection with the local community.
"There are a lot of people who have never heard of the Australasian Order of Old Bastards, and then they come to Carnarvon and talk to various people and find out a few are members," John said.
"A few people want to become members because of the name, but also mainly because they like what we're doing, how we do it and why we do it - and they want to be a part of that.
"People in this town do their own recycling but a lot are good enough to donate their recyclables to us.
"We proudly represent the town of Carnarvon and we've got a strong rapport with the community."
Graphic: Carnarvon RFDS landing
John said the Old Bastards recognise the importance of the RFDS' mantle of safety for all who live, work and holiday in their community, which is about 900km north of Perth.
Carnarvon attracts thousands of tourists each year, with the popular Shark Bay World Heritage Area lying south of the town and Ningaloo Reef and Exmouth to the north.
"In Carnarvon, if you get badly hurt of have medical problems, you have to head south to Perth, and for that you need the RFDS," he said.
"The RFDS do a fantastic job - we need the RFDS.
"A lot of little towns rely on it because it's an asset, a plus and a must."
Photo: RFDS PC-12 at Carnarvon Airport undertaking a patient retrieval to Perth