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Young pilot shares mental health message in Karratha

Alicia PereraPilbara News
Young pilot Bob Bramley with members and leaders of the Karratha Scout Group at Karratha Airport.
Camera IconYoung pilot Bob Bramley with members and leaders of the Karratha Scout Group at Karratha Airport. Credit: Pilbara News, Alicia Perera

He may be too young to drive a car alone, but that hasn’t stopped 16-year-old pilot Bob Bramley from flying around the country solo on a trip that included a stop in Karratha at the weekend.

The Tasmanian high school student was aiming to break a world record and become the youngest person to circumnavigate Australia unassisted before recently learning he would miss the title because of a change in record requirements, but has decided to continue his flight regardless.

His 15,000km journey also aims to spark greater national awareness of youth suicide through a partnership with Beyond Blue.

Bob stopped in Karratha on Sunday afternoon to speak to the local Scouts group and tour Dampier before continuing his trip the next day. He said he had embarked on the trip, labelled Surviving Turbulence, to raise awareness of youth suicide after two friends had come close to taking their own lives in 2017.

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“Particularly in rural communities, the youth suicide rate and suicide rate in general is a lot higher,” he said.

“Devonport on the North West coast of Tassie, where I’m from, does have a particularly high level of suicide — it’s the leading cause of death between 15 and 24-year-olds in the Devonport region.”

“By speaking with the media and promoting conversations and breaking that stigma surrounding it, even if it only saves one person’s life, in the end that would mean it’s been completely worth it.”

Speaking several days after learning he would no longer break the world record, Bob said while the news was disappointing, he would be continuing the trip and was glad he would now have more time to spread the suicide prevention message.

Karratha Scout Group leader Dani Hage said meeting Bob was an exciting opportunity for local scouts.

“It gives them inspiration to see that nothing is out of their reach, because to see a 16-year-old fly around Australia by himself in a plane, drop into airports he’s never been to, meet people that he’s never met before, and just do it all on his whim is just amazing,” she said.

“I think it will show the kids that the world’s their oyster, because they can see that things like this are not unachievable.”

Bob’s circumnavigation flight began in Devonport on April 15 and is expected to take 3 1/2 weeks.

He also stopped at Kununurra, Broome and Port Hedland over the weekend.

Following the Guinness World Records rule change, the standing record for the youngest person to circumnavigate Australia alone belongs to Liam Morey of the Sunshine Coast, who completed his trip in September 2018.

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