Getting away with the guys is priceless for Daniel and Mark

Most dads enjoy a little time out with their mates, but for busy carers, Daniel Hamlyn and Mark O’Neil, getting away from it all can often be out of reach.

That’s what makes Carer Support’s annual male carer retreat special. It’s an affordable long weekend providing a unique, and rare, escape from the hectic routine of everyday life.

Daniel HamlynDaniel, 43 is a loving father to three sons aged 14, 12 and 10. The two youngest both have high functioning autism, which means they need more physical and emotional support than other kids their age.

He’s upbeat but does admit that it can feel like other families have it easier at times.

“Family life is mostly normal, but a little bit quirkier,” he says. “The retreat is not only a great escape, but it’s also very affordable. It’s a chance to talk to others and relax – you come out of it seeing the wood for the trees.”

When Daniel settled in Australia seven years ago, with his wife and sons, it meant leaving behind the support network of their extended family. Additionally, the demands of caring for his sons means it’s not always possible for Daniel to work full-time, which places a financial strain on his family and makes it difficult to budget for holidays and time away.

That’s why he was so grateful to go on this year’s retreat at Chiton Rocks, a quiet spot located on the coast between Victor Harbor and Port Elliot.

“It was absolutely amazing,” says Daniel. “Our dorm was a stone’s throw from the beach, and you could see the waves crashing from where we were staying. It was a million-dollar view!”

Male carers on retreat at Chiton Rocks

The annual retreat is designed to give male carers a valuable break from their caring roles. While it included plenty of great activities, like the fishing charter and a bus tour, it was the opportunity to connect with other dads that made a difference to 31-year old Mark.

Mark O'NeilHis two young daughters have conditions that require constant monitoring and medical appointments. For him, it’s priceless to have the chance to get away with the guys.

“When everyone settled down on Saturday night, we just sat around the table and bonded,” Mark says. “It’s good to be around other guys who are in the same situation and just be able to chat.”

Carer Support runs a range of events and get-togethers for male carers throughout the year. You can read more about mixing with other male carers here.