Help­ing hand for ad­ven­tures

A 13-year dream con­cludes

Central and North Burnett Times - - NEWS - Tobi Lof­tus Tobi.Lof­tus@cnbtimes.com.au

RAELEEN Dar­ling­ton and Veron­ica Grif­fin’s 13-year mis­sion to travel to ev­ery Aus­tralian cap­i­tal city has come to an end with a trip to Can­berra.

Since 2003, 67-year-old Veron­ica has taken 44-year-old Raeleen, who has a phys­i­cal dis­abil­ity af­fect­ing her speech, to a dif­fer­ent Aus­tralian city for two weeks ev­ery year.

“This year we went to Can­berra in Oc­to­ber and went to Flo­ri­ade,” Veron­ica said.

“We went to lots of din­ners, movies and walked around a lot.

“We had a nice hol­i­day and it was re­lax­ing.”

While both were orig­i­nally from the North Bur­nett, Veron­ica now lives in Mount Isa and Raeleen is in Bund­aberg.

“What hap­pened was I was ad­min­is­tra­tor of the Bur­nett In­ter­ac­tive, which was run by the Mundubbera Com­mu­nity De­vel­op­ment As­so­ci­a­tion, and there was a big train­ing room with a dozen com­put­ers in it,” Veron­ica said.

“Raeleen rocked up to be taught how to use a com­puter one day.

“The dis­abil­ity ref­er­ence group, who op­er­ated in the cen­tre too, came up to Raeleen and said they couldn’t find a carer to go with her on hol­i­day.

“I said how ridicu­lous, they said ‘well would you go with her?’ and I said ‘yes I would’.”

In the three years fol­low­ing, the duo trav­elled to Sydney, Melbourne and Cairns.

“Af­ter Cairns I said it would be good if we could do all the cap­i­tal cities,” Veron­ica said.

“Raeleen was so ex­cited, in­di­cat­ing she would love to do that.

“When I moved to Mount Isa we were three parts of the way through and I kept go­ing back and tak­ing her on the two-week hol­i­days.

“Now we’ve done it.”

Not only did the duo travel to ev­ery Aus­tralian cap­i­tal city, and some re­gional cities such as the Gold Coast, they also trav­elled to Auck­land and Christchurch in New Zealand.

“When I asked her what her favourite thing we did was, she thought for a minute and then nod­ded her head,” Veron­ica said.

“Last year we went to Ho­bart and I thought I was book­ing a cruise, but it turns out I was book­ing an ad­ven­ture cruise.

“We ended up on a lit­tle fast boat, went right into south­ern ocean and fur seals, dol­phins and al­ba­tross.

“That was the best thing we ever did.”

Veron­ica said it felt re­ally good to fin­ish the mis­sion they set out on 13 years ago.

“I think we will end up do­ing something else in the fu­ture,” Veron­ica said.

“Maybe next year we might spend some time in Bris­bane as there is so much go­ing on there right now, if Raeleen wants to.

“We’ll see.”

I said how ridicu­lous, they said ‘well would you go with her?’ and I said ‘yes I would’. — Veron­ica Grif­fin

PHOTO: CON­TRIB­UTED

COM­PLET­ING DREAMS: Raeleen Dar­ling­ton and her carer Veron­ica Grif­fin ready to board The Ghan for in 2012.

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