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"Black Knight" helps drought-affected farmers with osteopathy outreach

10 October 2016

A Brisbane osteopath with an affinity for the bush embarked on an outreach mission to provide drought-affected farmers free osteopathic treatment in July.  The mobile clinic travelled through rural Queensland in the ‘Black Knight’, a V8 Toyota LandCruiser; the fastest single-turbo VDJ76 in Australia.

Anthony Collins was joined by fellow osteopaths Ty Taylor, Shannon Connor and Noah Malka; equipped with massage tables, foam rollers and hundreds of metres of kinesiology therapeutic tape.

In May, Agriculture Minister Leanne Donaldson confirmed to the Queensland Parliament that 83.9 per cent of the state was currently in drought and Collins believed his osteopathic outreach program would help ease the burden of such hard times.

“I travel west of the divide frequently and locals always tell me, ‘We could do with one of you blokes out this way. Nearly everyone out here has a sore back’. I wanted to give something back to these farmers,” said Collins.

“Reducing someone’s physical pain will not only improve their quality of life but it can help a great deal psychologically as well. If our treatment can give them one less problem to deal with, then I’d consider the trip a success”.

“We don’t just want to treat people, we’ll educate farmers how to treat each other's pain using safe, hands-on techniques.”

With help from Osteopathy Australia and other corporate sponsors, the program also donated simple-to-use rehabilitation tools so treated farmers can continue to care for their pains after the Black Knight departed.

The first mobile clinic was setup at the Kahmoo property near Cunnamulla and then headed west to open a second clinic at the Eulo Queen Hotel.

Below is Anthony's account of the incredible experience.


By Anthony Collins

Innaminka Station is a huge cattle station of around 13,500 sq km's or about the size of the country, Montenegro. Located in S.A. it was about as far a westerly point we were able to reach in our Outback Osteo Outreach Program.

We were suggested to call into this epic station by Whip and Jackie of Nappa Merrie Station, which we'd previously called in to, as they'd heard that Nathan Keogh, Innamincka's General Manager and Head Stockman had recently strained his back and would be an excellent candidate for osteopathic help.

Black Knight Osteopathy outreach

After a quick re-fuel in the Innamincka township, we made our way to the Station of the same name and were met by Jodie, Nathan's wife, who was sorry to inform us that he was out of reach for at least 3 more days as he was mustering 1000 head of cattle some 30km's away.

As it turned out it wasn't 30km down a nicely paved road but rather via a dirt track currently flooded in numerous areas and really not suitable for venturing to unless the vehicle was a very well equipped 4WD. Lucky for us, we had what was required and after reassuring Jodie that we were willing and able to make the effort required to reach Nathan, she excitedly led the way.

The next 90 minutes of driving to reach Nathan was a real off-road driving thrill as we were finally using full capacity of the Black Knight's off-road abilities which made all the hard work preparing her for this very moment, well worth it.

I'm sure it's no surprise to know that Jodie couldn't just call Nathan on the phone and let him know we were en route. There's definitely zero mobile coverage out that way and he had no idea of our imminent arrival and our approach to the area he was allegedly in was punctuated with more frequent calls over the UHF radio for "Nathan; do you copy?".

After a few more blind bends and negotiated floodways we crested a hill to see a platoon of stockmen moulding and steering 1000 head of cattle into a highly malleable mob. After one of the stockmen saw our small convoy arrive he ventured over to us and assumed he was about to meet some avid off-road tourists who'd gone completely of the beaten track and gotten lost.

Some minutes later another vehicle arrived and out stepped the literal definition of the outback Australian stockman. Dressed from head to toe in the compulsory uniform of the region, that is, anything made by R.M.Williams and wearing a hat that I could only assume is worn with the same respect and dedication as that given to the 'baggy green cap' of the Australian Cricket Team; Nathan Keogh, Innamincka Station's head honcho, had arrived.

Under the curious eyes of his dedicated subordinates and hundreds of inquisitive beasts, Nathan shyly ventured over to us.

His antalgic gait was enough to indicate that here was a man dealing with some form of acute low back pain. After brief introductions it was clear that there was no better place to conduct this random consultation than right here and now, and the unbreakable Athlegen Massage Tables were deployed in the middle of nowhere, Innamincka Station.

After a brief history and examination it was determined that Nathan was suffering symptoms of Sacro-iliac joint dysfunction; luckily for him, an osteopath's specialty. As treatment got underway it slowly dawned on all present that we were currently engaging in one of the most unique osteopathic treatment experiences that could have ever been. With the Australian bush as our treatment room and 1000 head of cattle as our interested observers it really was the quintessential surreal experience.


After dispensing of the voodoo that we do so well, Nathan tentatively started to move his back in all directions. Mutterings of disbelief came over the hardened countryman. He was astounded that his pain felt cured and his resultant smile was both contagious and immovable, a clear response to how delighted he was with the results.

In such a one-off unique encounter like this, post treatment advice was obviously very important so we decided that in order for Nathan to maintain the ameliorative longevity of his treatment results we strapped him with the brilliant Rocktape Australia product, additionally cutting a dozen strips extra to keep him going for a few weeks more. We also had a chat about some strengthening rehabilitation activities using TheraBands from Exercise Shop.

All in all that was certainly a highlight of our Outback Osteopathic Outreach Program and  although it took us half a day to treat only one man, we all felt it was well worth the effort. These hardened outback bushmen choose not to see treatment options for themselves because there are none. You just suck it up and move on to the next job in a very long list of things to do.

As such, I can only imagine how equally surreal it must have felt for Nathan to be enduring the pain he was and in the most unlikely of circumstances, where I'm most certain he would have thought that he was in the last place on earth a highly trained group of professionals specialising in the treatment of back pain may literally materialise out of thin air and take his pain away. Truly unbelievable.

Life really can be a beautiful thing and we all felt great that we were on the giving side of that beauty, not only on this occasion, but right throughout this trip. 

Black Knight Osteopathy outreach

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