Tech on a trek
In August, my team manager rang to ask me to see if I was willing to represent Telstra on the Royal Flying Doctor Service trek. The trek has been supported by Telstra since its inception 23 years ago and my manager felt I would be a prime candidate to offer tech support due to my remote area skills and familiarity with Telstra’s Next G® wireless broadband products.
I accepted the challenge and started to get my head around what was involved, as I only had five days to prepare and get myself to the start line, 2000km from where I lived.
The trek this year started in Yarrawonga, on the NSW/Vic border.
My role, as an official on the trek, was to help out with the checkpoints and provide communications support. Telstra supplied portable satellite telephones to the officials as well as several Next G® Wifi Hotspots, which I set up on my vehicle of a night.
Over the next five days the trek passed through outback NSW and into Queensland via the border town of Hungerford. The town has one pub and one local Police Officer who thought it was Xmas. He was able to perform a year’s worth of breath tests in one day. I am happy to say that no-one failed the breath test.
The weather was not kind to us. The first couple of days were wet and cold. The dirt roads were pretty slippery and required some skilful driving at times to stay out of the table drain. We also had to change our route several times due to road closures. My local knowledge of the outback Queensland roads assisted the organisers in finding suitable detours.
I met some interesting people along on the trek while huddling around the campfire to stay warm. It was interesting to hear them talk with excitement about what the next day would bring. I guess I have been driving around out here so long and had forgotten how lucky I was to see some of the country and sights that people have never seen before.
The five days passed quite quickly as we drove towards Townsville. The ironic thing about this trek is that of the 3500kms we travelled, 2000 of them were on the roads that I travel regularly for work. I was reminded of Telstra’s commitment to the bush by some of the trekkers who could not believe that there was Next G® coverage in some of the places we went.
We had one trekker who lost coverage just after he left Sydney due to the network he was on. I was able to lend him a Next G® phone and he was so happy about it that he said he was going to change to Telstra on his return to Sydney. Another trekker had issues with his Next G® broadband, I tracked down the issue to a faulty antenna and was able to loan him a replacement so that he could continue to use it.
I also worked to ensure that the Telstra Satellite phones, provided to the Officials and Medics, were always able to communicate with the outside world.
Telstra’s remote area crews do a great job to keep our customers connected out here and I was constantly reminded of this by comments from the trekkers.
The Royal Flying Doctor Service do an amazing Job also, and it is good to know that the money raised from this trek goes straight to the Royal Flying Doctor Service, so they can continue to provide much needed medical services to the outback.
I know that if I ever need medical help while I am working in remote areas that the Royal Flying Doctor Service will always be there.
What an experience it has been and I would like to thank my team manager Mitch Hynes and Regional Service Director Suzanne Gomes for supporting me to support the Royal Flying Doctor Service.
A not for profit organisation, the Royal Flying Doctor Service is an emergency service that relies on the generosity of the Australian public to keep the Flying Doctor flying.