Cool adventurers lift Wheatbelt spirits

30 Mar, 2013 01:00 AM

THE Wheatbelt was ignited with hopefulness and positivity last week when renowned adventurers James 'Cas' Castrisson and Justin 'Jonesy' Jones were keynote speakers for the Hyden Hoggets community organisation in Karlgarin.

Hosted by the Fotheringhame family on their Karlgarin property, the event saw 200 attendees from across the Wheatbelt come together in the family's machinery shed to listen to the uplifting presentation.

The free event, sponsored by the One Life Suicide Prevention Strategy and CBH Group saw standing room only with 200 attendees filling available seating to capacity.

Participants heard contributions from Hyden Hoggets president Tim Whitwell, who outlined the role of the Hyden Hoggets and discussed the implications recent tough times had had on the local community.

He said the group aimed to provide farmers with an outlet besides sport and the local pub.

Prior to the presentation by Cas and Jonesy, the audience was treated to a presentation by Amy Coombe who discussed her battle with mental health in her teenage years, where she discussed the importance of never giving up and getting help when required.

The keynote speakers Cas and Jonesy were the first people to successfully ski unassisted from the edge of the Antarctic to the South Pole and back again over 89 days and had also completed an expedition where they paddled 3318 kilometres across the Tasman Sea.

The presentation was based on the pair's expeditions and placed emphasis on dreaming, planning, teamwork, the importance of trial/testing and execution.

Attendees gained intimate insight into the personal battles and mental difficulty experienced when undertaking such adventures.

The men shared their personal experiences and emphasised the importance of strength in adversity, an idea that seemed to resonate with embattled eastern Wheatbelt farmers and their families who were experiencing difficult times in the wake of successive poor seasons.

Following the presentation, the pair fielded questions from the audience regarding everything from frostbite to the recovery process after their adventures.

Participants had the opportunity to chat with the adventurers at the conclusion of the speech, with a number of children seeking autographs and asking numerous questions about their experiences.

The presentation received positive reviews with a distinct hum of positivity after it.

One Life Suicide Prevention Strategy assistant network co-ordinator Jane Mouritz said holding the event as a Wheatbelt education, training and resilience building event was initially a risk.

"I heard Todd talk about the idea and the speakers, about having it in a shed at a feedlot and I thought 'oh my goodness is this a normal way of doing mental health awareness'," Ms Mouritz said.

"Actually it is the way to do mental health awareness, it has brought in a cross section of the community, even watching the children sitting there rapt listening was inspiring for me.

"It brought in a lot of people of all ages and stages and different towns from Busselton to Pingrup and through to Hyden and the eastern Wheatbelt so that was a good achievement, we got the numbers here."

Ms Mouritz said the event showed community caring and said when times were tough it was important for rural communities to support each other.

"Communities like ours already have that but you do need to be reminded of it from time to time," she said.

"I could see people watching out for each other in the room and a goal of the presentation was to build trust around community.

"This event reminded us of how precious each and every life is and that we do need to focus on enjoying and looking forward even when things are extremely difficult as they have been in the community in the last eight to 10 years."

Attendees enjoyed beers and burgers put on by the Karlgarin Progress Association, with some much needed laughter and positive conversation after the speech.



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