A survivor of Cyclone Tracy, Pat was evacuated from Darwin in 1974, moving first to Cairns and, later, to Mapleton in 1989.
As a long-time Mapleton resident, Pat is a fund of information about the history of our local gym.
“The idea for a community gym was floated when Lou Rommel and Mike Considine offered to donate some equipment,” Pat recalls*.
“We just had to find somewhere to put it!”
“There was nothing underneath the Bowls Club then. They agreed to let us rent the lower level, but it needed lots of work!”
“We obtained a grant to buy carpet and paint,” she says, “but the labor was all voluntary.”
“At first, attendance was disappointing. We were only getting 6-8 people per session,” says Pat.
But the ever-reliable Mapleton bush-telegraph leapt into gear and membership soon boomed.
Pat laughs at the memory of gym instructor, Paul, proudly wearing a t-shirt boasting, “I signed up our 100th member!”
In those early days, Pat’s motivation for joining the gym was to get fit enough to walk the Inca Trail to Machu Picchu.
“I was in my 60s, then,” she says. “I knew if I was going to do it, I had to get in shape.”
Pat prepared by walking on the treadmill wearing a backpack loaded with 5-10kg of books!
“I must have looked a sight!” she laughs.
In the end, Pat didn’t walk the Inca Trail, but she did make it to Machu Picchu.
“There was still a lot of walking and climbing stairs,” she says. “I was glad I’d spent all that time at the gym!”
Having achieved her first big travel goal, Pat’s wanderlust became unstoppable.
Being fit gave Pat the confidence to become a traveller – not just a tourist.
She walked the Great Ocean Road and the 45km 6 Foot Walking Track from Katoomba to the Jenolan Caves. Later, Pat walked part of the Great Wall of China and visited Mt Everest base camp – all in her 60s!
“Going to the gym and having a reasonable level of fitness for my age encouraged me to do things I simply wouldn’t have considered before,” she says.
Pat has been an active member of the gym for 13 years, although she confides that ill-health necessitated a 12 month hiatus.
It’s not uncommon for a family crisis, illness or increasing work demands to interrupt people’s fitness routines. Many find it difficult to return. Yet, Pat did return and now works out regularly again.
“It took a while to get back into the routine,” she admits, “but I still had things I wanted to do!”
In September 2014, Pat set off on a tour of South Africa.
“I came back 8kg heavier!” she groans. “The wine in South Africa is beautiful, and only about $5 a bottle!”
So, after the trip, it was back to the gym!
“The weight’s all gone now!” says the very trim and youthful septuagenarian.
And you can’t help but wonder what her next big adventure will be.
*Local doctor, Danny Cocks, was also closely involved in the establishment of the Range Community Gym