Rainbow follows storm
❝I really do love Cobram now. When I go to Melbourne, the city doesn’t do much for me like it used to.❞
It was the type of comical mishap that would leave most observers belly-laughing on the ground in a state of hysteria.
But for Rolf Bischoff, it was anything but funny. The unfortunate incident left him with a broken neck and back and nearly ruined his life.
The former German native was walking his two dogs when disaster struck and nearly left him a quadriplegic.
The two dog leads somehow managed to wrap around Mr Bischoff’s legs, prompting him to fall backwards and hit the pavement with enough force that broke bones in places you least want broken.
It took him a full year to recover and he had to learn to walk again, spending months on end doing rehabilitation in the Epworth Hospital in Melbourne.
Not long after his accident, Mr Bischoff’s wife Patricia nearly ripped her leg off when it got caught in a ladder.
Thankfully since that tumultuous time almost eight years ago, things are looking rosier for Mr Bischoff.
He has recently been appointed president of the CobramBarooga Probus Club.
It is an exciting period for both Mr Bischoff and the club, which is due to celebrate its 30th anniversary at the Barooga Sporties on Monday, October 15.
The Probus club holds monthly meetings for retired and semi-retired men and women who appreciate and value opportunities to meet others in similar circumstances and enjoy fellowship.
Members also get the chance to listen to engaging guest speakers and visit not-for-profit clubs as well as fundraising bodies.
When it began in November 1998, under the sponsorship of the Rotary Club of Cobram, Probus was a men-only club.
But in 2012, it combined with the Ladies’ Probus Club, making it the combined Probus Club of Cobram-Barooga Inc. to boost dwindling numbers and keep up with the times.
It has certainly been an interesting ride for Mr Bischoff, who has served as treasurer for the past four years.
He initially developed feelings of resentment towards Cobram after his accident, but after meeting Alan Tyson while doing physiotherapy in the town, he was encouraged to join Probus. That moment was a turning point for him.
‘‘I’ve met some wonderful people here through Probus,’’ he said.
‘‘I really do love Cobram now. When I go to Melbourne, the city doesn’t do much for me like it used to.
‘‘I enjoy the quietness of this place and sense of community spirit you find in a group such as Probus.’’
Born in Hamburg, Germany, Mr Bischoff first arrived in Australia in 1959.
‘‘My father was in the merchant navy in Germany. After I finished school I decided I was going to join the German army, but my father threatened to rip the papers up because he hated the war so much,’’ Mr Bischoff said.
‘‘He always used to say how much he loved Australia and had visited here before, so he instructed me to come here, so I did.
‘‘The ship’s first port was in Fremantle, Western Australia, and all I could see was rusted roof tops and I remember when we got off the ship nothing was open. I wondered what I had got myself into.’’
He then established himself in Melbourne, where he later obtained a certificate in engineering at RMIT University.
His profession landed him ‘‘the best job he ever had’’ working at BP. At the peak of the oil boom, BP paid 18 per cent to his super fund.
Mr Bischoff’s story is just one of many interesting tales within Cobram-Barooga Probus Club. If you are interested in joining the club or finding out what it has to offer, head along to a meeting at the Senior Citizens Hall.
Meetings are held on the first Monday of each month at 10 am.
New leader: Rolf Bischoff is now president of Cobram-Barooga Probus Club.