Having a disability is not dissuading Eleanor Beidatsch, 22, from pursuing her dream of being involved in a palaeontology dig in Lightning Ridge, New South Wales.
The Mount Barker woman has spinal muscular atrophy Type 1 – a genetic condition that affects nerves controlling muscle movement but has no impact on mental function.
Eleanor and Kirsten Beidatsch will travel together across the Nullarbor for their first palaeontology dig in New South Wales.
She is currently a first year, part-time student at the University of Western Australia, completing her Bachelor of Science with a double major in marine science and conservation biology. Her goal is to become a conservation consultant for the Great Southern region’s waterways.
In the meantime, her sister Kirsten, 25, mother Karen and long-time carer Jamie Hunt are finalising their plans to travel with Eleanor to Lightning Ridge in August.
“We will use an old, decommissioned school bus we bought three years ago and my mum will drive across the Nullarbor while Jamie and I look after Eleanor,” Kirsten said.
The Beidatschs subscribe to Australian Geographic where they learnt about the annual Lightning Ridge palaeontology dig.
Their Local Area Coordinator Donna Blyth suggested they apply to the Albany Rotary Club for help and also set up a crowdfunding site to raise money for the 8,200km round trip.
“Donna has been really amazing – she helped us establish goals, supported us in sourcing funds and organised for us to apply for assistance through the Rotary club so we could put down a deposit,” Kirsten said.
“She suggested crowdfunding and we’ve so far raised about $3,000 since December,” she said.
Eleanor said this would be a rare opportunity to trawl through an actual palaeontology site and she planned to make the most of it.
“It’s going to be an amazing experience and I’m looking forward to participating in field work with experts,” Eleanor said.