Charleville wrap-up


It’s just over 24 hours since Dale and I along with four others from our church arrived back in Brisbane on the Westlander.


On the journey back – uneventful in the bigger scheme of things – we spent some time reflecting on how well our week in and beyond Charleville had achieved its objectives.

IMG_3988There was consensus that apart from the hope of engaging in some children’s ministry there, it was a green tick the rest of the way.

There’s no doubt that everyone in our group will now have a heightened awareness of and appreciation for the work of Frontier Services, of the challenges of those on the land, of a different way of ‘being church’ out there.  We were able to share musical and other gifts in a variety of contexts.  It seemed our encounters were times of blessing and encouragement to those we met.  More than this, though, we came away knowing we were perhaps blessed ourselves moreso … such was the hospitality and friendship received. The leadership, friendship and assistance shown by patrol padre John Case in arranging so many of our encounters was tremendous. Thanks John!!!

Buckey panorama

What was the springboard for all of this?

Perhaps two-fold:

  1. doing something more tangible as a local suburban church to connect with Frontier Services’ work – one catalyst being 2012’s 100th anniversary celebrations of the founding of the A.I.M. under Rev John Flynn’s leadership and vision. I wrote (see next post) the song ‘Cross this land tonight in recognition of this.
  2. 40 years ago, our minister at Indooroopilly Presbyterian Church, Doug Brandon took a bus load of young adults out one December to his old Burke & Wills patrol stomping ground. Yes, the same territory we in a small way interfaced.  This experience has never left me, all these years on.  I wanted Oxley folk to catch a glimpse of this too.

I believe they did.

20131003-071942.jpgThe last two days saw us:

  • presenting a concert of song and story at the Waroona Nursing Home in Charleville.  A moving experience as we shared some oldtime and Aussie folk songs



  • spending time at the Bilby CentreIMG_3992
  • farewelling our road-travellers
  • consuming tasty food at the RSL and Mars-Bar cheesecake at Bartlett’s bakery
  • presenting an impromptu singalong across the road from the Bailey Bar Caravan Park.

One of our lighthearted slogans through the week was “What happens in Charleville stays in Charleville!”.

Not sure if that’s going to stay true for me.  Perhaps others.

It’s left its mark … the people we met have left their mark. Praise be to God.

Now … I’m onto the second half of long service leave. Some time at home, time at the beach and then a rendezvous with Dale’s folks and a six-berth motorhome at Alice Springs.  We worshipped in the city this morning, took in GOMA (first time for me) … and then there’s the little matter of a footy Grand Final this evening.



P.S. I’ve submitted this piece for possible publication by our Uniting Church Qld magazine: Journey. Kind of sums up the week.


Oxley-Darra Uniting Church has enjoyed a long association with the work of Frontier Services. Last year’s 100th anniversary of the founding of the Australian Inland Mission by Rev John Flynn was the springboard for the congregation going one step further.

What would it be like if a mixed age group from the congregation took a week of the September-October school holidays to connect with the work of Frontier Services in and beyond Charleville?

After much planning, particularly with Burke & Wills Patrol padre Rev John Case, several families did exactly that. The aim: through conversation, music and practical assistance, to offer encouragement to a cross-section of folk living and working in inland Queensland, and to gain fresh insights along the way.

With the BaileyBar caravan park as base camp, a week was spent travelling to Glenbrook and Buckey’s Creek stations; enjoying song, kangaroos and hospitality with Dr Chester Wilson and wife Loie; entertaining caravan park patrons at its communal Camp Oven Dinner; being inspired by the work of Frontier Services’ Outback Links, in home care and Remote Area Family services (RAFS) programs. It was staggering trying to comprehend the immense southwestern Queensland area in which these services are offered.

A visit to the Royal Flying Doctor Base offered reminders of the founding, pioneering work of Reverends John Flynn and Fred McKay; not to mention the many pilots, doctors and nurses who have served and continue to serve outback Australia.

Particularly moving for many was a visit to Waroona Nursing Home. The musical program offered struck a chord with many, with one senior resident moved to the point of getting up to dance to “How Great Thou Art”. 

The group made sure it supported the local economy by stargazing at the Cosmos Centre,delighting in the company of bilbies and supporting their conservation as well as indulging in the renowned mars-bar cheesecake at Russell’s bakery’ – not to forget a mean steak at the RSL or the tastiest of burgers at Fat Freddy’s.

During debriefing, as families prepared to travel home eastwards through red-soil plans, many voiced thankfulness to God not only for opportunities provided for encouragement, but just as much the blessings and sense of inspiration experienced through a week of special encounters with the wider body of Christ. Rev Case, journeying with us throughout the week shared his appreciation.

 As we pulled up tent-pegs, hitched up caravans and headed home, those heading back on the Westlander began enthusiastic talk on what the next chapter of this special interface with Frontier Services might look like.

David MacGregor (Rev)
Oxley-Darra Uniting Charleville Team

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