After enjoying more than 60 holidays by bus over the years, WA’s most committed coach traveller, 83-year-old Barry Hardes, wasn’t going to let dementia or lung cancer stop him from celebrating his favourite bus company’s golden jubilee.
Proving it’s never too late for high flying travel experiences, the former Masters Dairy production manager who is a resident at Baptistcare Kalkarni Residential Care in Brookton travelled in style to the Fremantle party by helicopter.
From 2005 to 2020, Barry notched up almost 500 days touring the country by bus with family-owned business Casey Tours, covering hundreds of thousands of kilometres.
Together, they crossed the Nullarbor Plain into South Australia, drove Victoria’s Great Ocean Road, celebrated all things floral at Floriade in Canberra, tackled Darwin in the wet, enjoyed Norfolk Island in the South Pacific and explored every corner of Western Australia from Kunnunurra in its far north to Esperance in its most southern tip.
“Most of our regular travellers would have done four or five tours in about 10 years, but Barry has done just about every tour we’ve had over 16 years and some of them he’s done multiple times,” said Tim Casey, General Manager and Director of Casey Tours.
“Our tours are a bonding experience. We’ve travelled with Barry all over the country and he’s very much part of our family.”
As well as 61 extended tours, many lasting several weeks, the great-granddad also accompanied Casey Tours on multiple day trips over the years.
It was only natural the company added their friend and most faithful passenger to the guest list for their 50th anniversary lunch at Swan Yacht Club.
Barry’s son, Greg Hardes, organised the helicopter ride so his dad could make the trip from Brookton to Fremantle in style and comfort – and in much less time than the two and half hours it would have taken by car.
Baptistcare Care Partner Rinzin Rinzin joined Barry on his ride-of-a-lifetime so he could enjoy the experience to the fullest, despite his ill health. He was diagnosed with terminal lung cancer in 2020.
“It was wonderful to be able to make Dad’s day celebrating with Casey Tours that little bit extra special,” said Greg.
“Dad has always loved travelling by bus and plane but he has only ever been in a chopper once before when he took a joy flight over the Bungle Bungles.”
Kalkarni’s Residential Care Manager, June Harwood, said the Baptistcare team was delighted to be able to contribute to making Barry’s dream flight a reality.
“Experiences such as this are incredibly important for residents like Barry who are facing significant health challenges, so if it meant providing our care and support in the air, we were determined to make it happen,” she said.
“To know that it has also created a beautiful moment in time for his son Greg made it all the more rewarding.”
Click here to find out more about residential aged care in Brookton.