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Family’s air mission will mean trading village life for remote Aboriginal Australia

MEMBERS of this Army family will soon be getting used to soaring temperatures and crocodiles when they swap a quiet Hampshire village for the harsh Aboriginal Homelands of remote Northern Australia.

Former Army pilot Ben Brown has given up a decorated military career to live with the Aboriginal people of Arnhem Land.

He will be joined by his wife Esther – a wildlife artist – and their two children, three-year-old Barnabas and Reuben, aged one.

The family has accepted an assignment with Mission Aviation Fellowship (MAF), the world’s largest humanitarian air service, which operates a fleet of eight Cessna aircraft in Australia’s Northern Territories to bring medical, relief and development services to isolated communities of native Yolngu people. 

MAF is the only humanitarian air-operator to serve a population of roughly 16,000 Aboriginal people spread across 97,000 square km – half the size of England.

They will be relocating in early 2023 from Middle Wallop.

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Ben, 36, who was promoted to rank of Major in 2017, told the Daily Echo: “I have no doubt that adjusting to living in Arnhem Land will have its challenges. The remoteness, humidity and distance from family will be hard, but we have a strong faith, and an amazing MAF team to support – and we look forward to getting to know them all better.

“MAF pilots fly in some of the most hostile and challenging scenarios in the world, but they are serving people who, without an air service, wouldn’t receive the care and facilities they need. It’s an organisation that operates aircraft on the edge of an envelope, but in a very safe way. I find that inspiring.”

The remoteness and humidity of Australia’s Northern Territories will be a stark contrast to the mild English countryside, which the family have become accustomed to since living in the UK.

As a mother of two young boys, Esther admits feeling apprehensive about the dangerous creatures they may encounter including the notorious saltwater crocodiles, poisonous snakes, spiders and jellyfish.

She said: “I’ve already started telling the boys that although the water is beautiful in Arnhem Land, you can’t swim in it! It will be hot, humid, and remote, but I’ve wanted to serve abroad with MAF for a long time. We are excited for this opportunity.”

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Read More:Family’s air mission will mean trading village life for remote Aboriginal Australia