Aussie drovers drive home health message

Drovers on horseback riding across Bondi Beach in Sydney yesterday. They travelled thousands of kilometres with 40 cows from the Australian outback to illustrate the struggle people living in rural and remote areas have in accessing health services.
Drovers on horseback riding across Bondi Beach in Sydney yesterday. They travelled thousands of kilometres with 40 cows from the Australian outback to illustrate the struggle people living in rural and remote areas have in accessing health services.PHOTO: AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE

SYDNEY • Moos sounded across Sydney's Bondi Beach yesterday as drovers on horseback mustered dozens of cows across its famous soft sands to raise awareness about rural health needs.

The unusual sight of 40 heifers - which travelled thousands of kilometres from Australia's remote outback - and six stockmen and women at one of the world's most iconic beaches attracted hundreds of excited onlookers.

The "Herd of Hope" cattle drive was the brainchild of double transplant recipient Megan McLoughlin, 36, who wanted to raise awareness about organ donation and the need for more support for health services in rural areas.

"I received a double transplant seven years ago and I realised that there's little-to-no services in regional and rural areas for all those affected by organ and tissue donation," Ms McLoughlin, who is also legally blind, said.

The mother of two has spoken about how the procedures gave her a second chance at life.

The journey the cattle took illustrates the size of the vast island continent and why people who live in rural and remote areas can struggle to access health services.

The Australian Medical Association, the peak body representing doctors, has said that timely access to medical professionals was a "key problem" for rural residents, with a shortage of doctors in more remote areas. About one-third of Australia's 24 million people live outside the country's major cities, according to the nation's statistics bureau.

AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Sunday Times on March 18, 2018, with the headline 'Aussie drovers drive home health message'. Print Edition | Subscribe