Far from the Madding Crowd

Alaric Outback Retreat Inc is a homestead in far Western Queensland that is available to all serving and ex-serving personnel living with a mental illness such as post-traumatic stress disorder.

9 July 2020

Night time (Photo: Nic Falconer).

This includes former and current members of the Australian and Allied defence forces, State and Federal Police, Fire Brigade, Ambulance, State Emergency services and their respective families.

The retreat is a beautiful five-plus bed-roomed Queenslander home, just an hour north of Quilpie, complete with wide verandas, fire pits and barbecues and is registered with the Australian Charities and Not-for-profit Commission (ACNC).

The home was originally built in the 1920s by Corporal JC (Chum) Tully after he received the land from the Soldier Settlement Scheme. Chum, who was wounded on two different occasions during the First World War, would only employ returned service men.

Fast forward almost 100 years and the Scott family gave management of Alaric to a group of Vietnam veterans, and teams of veterans arrived to help repair and refurbish the property.

After 14 successful years the property has seen thousands of visitors and hundreds of veterans come and enjoy the outback solitude at Alaric.

There are no formalities so veterans can choose to do as much or as little as they like. Some will create vegetable gardens or fix some faulty plumbing, others will read books from the soon to be up-graded reading room, go fishing at local holes or throw in a yabby pot — you can also hit golf balls!

The property has an opal mine. A nearby ridge is home to endangered rock wallabies that feed along the crevices and that most people visit early morning or late afternoon for the stunning sunrises and sunsets.

Bird lovers can see more than 187 species in the area including brolgas, pelicans, egrets, spoonbills, wrens, parrots, budgies and kingfishers, as well as the odd emu.

Guests are able to camp in their vehicle on-site or pay a token fee for a room and meals.

Most visitors stay a few days to have a look around the area but it is the night-time that steals the show with the Milky Way and an array of other stars that pop out in the evening as everyone congregates around the large fire-pit.

Retreat co-founder Ted Robinson, a Vietnam veteran, says the program will resume at Alaric once COVID-19 restrictions are eased. (Photo: Night time by Nic Falconer).

Visit the Alaric Outback Retreat website.

Ted Robinson (Photo: Nic Falconer)