Fellowship of Flying Rotarians tours the Hill

Broken Hill Aero Club welcomed 55 International Fellowship of Flying Rotarians (IFFR) from around the world with a light lunch after visiting the Royal Flying Doctor Service Museum on Monday.

Rotary International (RI) began its annual convention with five days of activities in Melbourne from May 27 to May 31 for over 18,000 attendees.

The IFFR branch of RI continued with the Tango Round the Outback post-convention, which included a two-day stopover in the Silver City (Monday June 6 and Tuesday June 7) to get a taste of ‘the bush’ before heading to Echuca and back to Melbourne.

Rain didn’t dampen the spirits of these seasoned highflyers as they took a coach tour of the Silver City, starting with a drive-by of the Line of Lode, dropping in to see The Big Picture at the Silver City Mint and Art Centre, and visiting several historic hotels before heading out to the Living Desert and Sculptures for champagne and nibblies intended to accompany a typically spectacular desert sunset – but sadly due to the rain there was no setting sun to be seen on Monday.

On Tuesday the Flying Rotarians visited the Pro Hart Art Gallery before taking a trip to Silverton for lunch, with a few members keen for a camel ride while others ventured to the John Dynon Art Gallery and Mad Max 2 Museum.

A visit to the Geo Centre and the Palace Hotel completed their afternoon, with a night under the stars at Outback Astronomy winding up their Broken Hill adventure.

Local event organiser, Bruce Church, invited the Barrier Truth to meet with IFFR’s World President, George Ritchie, for a chat about the organisation and this event.

Mr Ritchie explained Rotary International is a service organisation for men and women who want to make a difference all around the world, whether it be water, sanitation, health, peace, education, and so on – any area where people feel they can make a difference.

“Rotary has about 1.25 million members in 124 countries worldwide, and its own private charity, known as the Rotary Foundation, which handles fundraising objectives,” Mr Ritchie explained.

“I live just north of London, and I’m a member of the Rotary Club of Westminster [United Kingdom] and I’ve never been to Australia before,” Mr Ritchie said.

“Rotary Fellowships are the best kept secret of Rotary. There are fellowships for everything – golf, tennis, gin, wine, marathon running, whatever you like – and for us, it’s flying.

“In this group, there are people from Denmark, the Netherlands, Germany, UK, Australia, New Zealand, and America, and we do this all around the world. So, we have great fellowship, and we have great new aviation experiences,” he said.

Al and Beth Clayton from Anchorage, Alaska in the US honeymooned in Australia 38 years ago and are thrilled to be seeing “the real outback” during this trip with the IFFR.

Three IFFR members had visited Broken Hill after the 1993 RI convention 30 years ago. George Chaffey, Sam Bishop, and Alan Grady laughed about how the May weather wasn’t welcoming then either, “but at least we’re not breathing flies,” said another member.

If you’d like to learn more about the IFFR, visit

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