A small group of 'golden oldies' has just returned from a most memorable trip to Stawell and surrounds.
Funded through the federal government's Commonwealth Home Support Program and Home and Community Care Programs and organised by Mecwacare, a Victorian-based aged and disability services organisation, every participant had a ball.
It was fun and games from the start as Warragul Lines coach driver Mark paired up with tour local Joanne to entertain us over three days as we travelled to Ballarat via Lake Wendouree; then Ararat, which included an educational experience at the Chinese Heritage Centre before settling down for the night at the Comfort Inn Goldfields motel in historic Stawell.
At a guess, the ages of the lively participants ranged from 70 to 90. The three carers most capably assisted the frailer members so there was no need for any concern about getting on or off the coach. There were so many highlights on this trip that space in this article limits their inclusion, but the trip to Hall's Gap followed by ice cream must be included.
New friendships were made and old acquaintances were rekindled on the coach during the excursions but mainly at meal times when the chatter and banter had to be heard to be believed.
One highlight of the trip was the tour through Best's Winery in Great Western and another, the visit to the Hall of Fame museum, home of the Stawell Gift, the foot race that started in 1878.
Wendy our guide was so enthusiastic and able to answer questions such as:
What is the distance of the Stawell Gift? 120 metres.
Are women eligible to run in the Gift? Yes, since about 1980.
Why is it a handicap race? All professional foot running is handicapped.
What is a 'handicap race' and what is the meaning of 'running from scratch'? Running from scratch means the runner runs the full distance of 120 metres.
The handicap runners run 120 metres less the distance set by the Victorian Athletic League.
Who was the youngest winner? Jarrem Pearce aged 16 who won in 2000.
Returning to Melbourne after our short but eventful three days away, we all agreed how blessed we were to be included in this outing.
For those of us seniors who are often lonely and sometimes housebound, these short trips add a new dimension to our otherwise monotonous lives.
We are therefore so grateful to the federal government for funding this program and to Mecwacare for facilitating it. Not to mention Joanne and Mark who made it such a hoot! So thank you, one and all.