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Vietnam Vet’s Outback tour rekindles lifelong ambition

Gary Lourigan, on right with Bourke’s Victor Bartley and wife Leanne. Photo TWH

The beauty of Outback NSW is unquestionable and is an irresistible lure for many travellers.

Traversing the wide-open spaces and riverbanks on horseback is an even better way to experience the vastness of the bush, and for Vietnam veteran and confirmed adventurer, Gary Lourigan, it is the only way to travel.

Gary has been a regular visitor to Bourke and has formed a close bond with another veteran, Bourke’s RSL President Victor Bartley. He has participated in Anzac ceremonies and shared the experiences of those years in battle with other veterans who once called Bourke home.

Gary served in Vietnam in one of the most dangerous roles in the Australian Defence Force as a ‘tunnel rat’ – an engineer tasked with detecting enemy fighters and unexploded bombs, often hidden down tunnels.

He survived his deployment to Vietnam and is now a proud veteran who does much for the veteran community in his hometown of Goulburn.

Gary was in Bourke in the lead up to Anzac day earlier this year to meet up with Victor Bartley and contribute some of his memorabilia to the Anzac display at the Bourke Bowling Club.

Gary’s visits to Bourke, often accompanied by his wife Leanne, re-ignited an ambition that was at the top of his bucket list - to ride his horse along the banks of the Darling River, camping under the stars at night, boiling a billy and enjoying the solitude.

Last week, he wrapped up his horseback adventure, which took him from Bourke to Louth, and he has become something of an unofficial ambassador for the region.

“This is my fourth visit to Bourke but this time I decided it was time saddle up and ride the banks of the Darling River, something I’ve wanted to do since I was a young fella,” Gary said.

“I learnt about the mighty Darling River when I was a youngster living in Queensland and this trip was an unforgettable experience.

“It gave me an insight into how the pioneers did it in the past, when they would go droving and it was an incredible experience - and quite challenging too,” he said.

“The main thing was the steepness of the banks and trying to get to the water.

“Some river banks were like cliff faces and I had to find wash outs to get entry, but luckily the weather was good and we managed.

“Something that really struck me was the vastness once I left the river, the nothingness and how small you can feel.

Read more in the printed edition of The Western Herald.

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