Happy to lend a hand

The ‘Tas­ma­nian biker with the dog on the back’

Central and North Burnett Times - - LOCAL NEWS - ❏ Sue Har­ris

PETER Maddox’s life has been any­thing but mun­dane.

A boil­er­maker and dairy farmer who’s trav­elled through 53 coun­tries on a mo­tor­bike, voy­aged to Antarc­tica on a re­search ves­sel, vol­un­teered with South Pas­sage, as a DJ on com­mu­nity ra­dio and for the past three months with Blaze Aid in Mun­dub­bera.

Not only has he be­come a fa­mil­iar face on the flood dev­as­tated farms where’s he been fenc­ing, he’s also spo­ken about his ad­ven­tures to mem­bers of Mun­dub­bera’s Lions and Ro­tary clubs.

Lo­cals re­fer to him as the “Tas­ma­nian biker with the dog on the back” and ap­pre­ci­ate all he’s con­trib­uted since his ar­rival in Fe­bru­ary, but he’s just happy to be able to help.

“What’s 12 weeks out of 61 years?” he said.

“To see a fence up and a smile on a farmer’s face is all I need – it’s been a good ex­pe­ri­ence and I haven’t fin­ished yet.

“Mun­dub­bera’s a fas­ci­nat­ing lit­tle town – peo­ple make a town and Mun­dub­bera has a good bunch of re­silient, kind peo­ple who make you feel wel­come.

“Good food, good mem­o­ries, hot show­ers – it’s like Christ­mas.”

Fol­low­ing the loss of his dairy farm in Tas­ma­nia dur­ing the time of crip­pling 23% in­ter­est rates in the late 1980s, Mr Mad- dox bought a mo­tor­bike and trav­elled for four years through South Amer­ica and Africa.

Car­ry­ing a small tent and bed­ding, he camped wher­ever he felt safe, and he saw a great deal of poverty.

“I had some ex­pe­ri­ences of peo­ple with knives and mug­gings but I have a good nat­u­ral instinct when it comes to peo­ple and that was a great ben­e­fit to me dur­ing my solo trav­els. I don’t stop if I don’t like a place.”

Mr Maddox’s vol­un­tary work has made a dif­fer­ence in many lives. He has vol­un­teered many times on South Pas­sage – a 30.5m gaff rigged schooner pur­pose built in 1993 to give young peo­ple aged 14–17 a unique ex­pe­ri­ence at sea.

Since its maiden voy­age more than 40,000 stu­dents have sailed on South Pas­sage and Mr Maddox has seen many young lives turn around fol­low­ing the ex­pe­ri­ence de­signed to al­low teenagers to take con­trol, build con­fi­dence and achieve to­gether.

“Be­ing at sea changes peo­ple; I re­mem­ber one lad who, as soon as we’d docked, went straight to a phone box and called his dad to apol­o­gize for the 14 years of grief he’d given him.”

Mr Maddox hasn’t yet made plans for af­ter the Mun­dub­bera Blaze Aid camp closes but is con­fi­dent he’ll know when the time comes.

No doubt he’ll go on to make a pos­i­tive dif­fer­ence in­many more lives.

Photo: Sue Har­ris

FINDINGFENCES: PeterMad­dox with Bilby strain­ing a fence at Tookawhyle af­ter re­cov­er­ing the barb wire fro­munder a moun­tain of de­bris.

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