Caravan cancer fighter

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Berwick’s Clive Blackford has set off on a 38,000 kilometre caravan trip around Australia with his five-month-old puppy Baxter to raise $100,000 for charity Very Special Kids.

It will be Baxter’s first adventure and Clive’s last.

The 67-year-old, who owned North Melbourne’s Castle Hotel for almost a decade, was diagnosed with prostate cancer about 12 months ago.

After discovering it to be terminal, Clive has found new purpose in bringing hope to children with a life-threatening condition.

Clive and his Maltese Shih Tzu pup Baxter will document their travels on a Facebook page called Baxter’s Adventure, capturing photos of the puppy with people from across the country.

“I’d like to think it’s a good story,” Clive said.

“I have the opportunity to do things that I’ve always put off. Life’s very precious. It makes you look at life a little bit differently – we’re all running out of time, not money.

“It makes more sense, supporting the children, I have had two types of cancer now, but I’ve also had a great chance at life, these kids haven’t and they deserve to be happy.

“So I’ve brought Baxter up to see the children at Very Special Kids and I’ll be telling our story through his eyes because kids will be able to relate more to a cute dog.

“I want to bring a smile to their faces.”

The pair will drive along the east coast, up to Cairns and then back down through the tablelands to Townsville, Mt Isa and Darwin.

From Darwin, Clive and Baxter will drive through the centre of the Northern Territory and South Australia to Adelaide, and return to Melbourne with many stops along the way.
He estimates that the trip will take up to two years.

“Baxter’s a fun and very well-mannered dog. I don’t know how he’s gonna drive the car yet … but anyway, we’ll work on that,“ Clive joked.

“I’m most looking forward to seeing the Great Barrier Reef, Tennant Creek, and a few of the small country towns where I’m sure we’ll find some real Australian characters.

“It will be nice to see the sunsets in the Northern Territory and to just enjoy the simple things in life.”

He said Very Special Kids helps more than 900 families across Victoria and provides free accommodation and ongoing support from diagnosis all the way through to recovery or bereavement.

“I have family in the UK. I spent three months over there and I’ve said my goodbyes,“ Clive said.

“I’m not going to sit at home and wait for the illness to progress.

“I’m very optimistic and you never know, I might be doing another trip in a few years.

“We’re only here for a certain amount of time – but I’ve been lucky enough to get 67 years.

Kids are so much braver. They have a right to life. Mine and Baxter’s adventure is for the kids that need help the most.”

To donate towards Clive’s cause, visit

For more information, search “Baxter’s Adventure“ on Facebook or visit

Clive is welcoming sponsors to add to the side of his caravan and is contactable on 0405 162 644 or at

Originally published at Pakenham Gazette.


About Alana Mitchelson

Alana Mitchelson is a journalist based in Melbourne, Australia. Follow her on Twitter at @AlanaMitchelson.

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