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Rural Recharge: Take a smoko break for mental health.

Rural Recharge: Take a smoko break for mental health.

Robbie Shefford, or Gooserooter, as he is more commonly known, is on a mission for mental health.

In his modified 1952 Fordson tractor with a caravan in tow, sporting exaggerated mutton chops and dressed very deliberately in pink cover-alls, Robbie does not look like your typical mental health advocate.

Which is precisely the point.

Shefford, formerly a truck driver and mechanic, has become an unexpected influencer of sorts sharing everything from truck repairs to his stories from his road trips around the country or anecdotes from his own life’s journey.

What has struck a chord with his ever-growing social media following, though, are his conversations around mental health and well-being told by anecdotal experience.

With an eye to the rural and trucking sector, where mental health issues remain a growing problem, Robbie promotes diverse conversations and shares his own insights and struggles.

“Two people can watch my videos and think completely different things,” Shefford says.

“Everyone takes things in different bits at different speeds.

“That’s why I talk about analogies in life because it makes a lot of sense when you can simplify it and make it relatable.

“The punchline might be the same.

“It’s just the process of telling the story to get to the punchline that might be different, and different people will resonate with different stories.”

For Shefford, the message is clear and simple. It’s O.K. to not be O.K.

“There’s light at the end of the tunnel, and it’s just working with your inner resilience to find that strength to move forward,” Shefford said.

“I think a lot of people forget to look out the window and look at what is in front of them instead of down at their phones.”

Shefford travels the length of the country, attending events as a commentator, getting involved in tractor pulls, or simply parking his distinctive tractor and caravan up for people to stop and connect and chat.

Shefford has just launched a book, “Robbies' Mind Matrix”, to help fund a bigger caravan where he can go on longer treks, stopping at places that often get left out of the mix.

Shefford says the book and the merchandise are unlikely to make him a millionaire; but he will be happy if an event brings in enough to fill his fuel tank and get him to his next destination.

“Everything I do is self-funded, so the book, as well as the coffee cups and hats, help get me from event to event.

“Once I can get a bigger caravan, I can go on a bit of a tiki tour and visit all the towns that get forgotten about.

“Instead of going straight up State Highway One, I want to stop at places like Geraldine, Methven, Mt Somers and Mayfield and do some talks there.”

Keep an eye out for the distinctive Fordson tractor and Shefford “Gooserooter’ himself, no doubt coming to a town near you.

by Claire Inkson