Helping hand for adventures
A 13-year dream concludes
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.
I said how ridiculous, they said ‘well would you go with her?’ and I said ‘yes I would’. — Veronica Griffin
COMPLETING DREAMS: Raeleen Darlington and her carer Veronica Griffin ready to board The Ghan for in 2012.