Day 6. Blue & White Buses - Brisbane

As we finished our service project in Mungundi, we packed up our bags and jumped in Bazza’s coach and headed to Brisbane! Once we arrived in Brisbane we headed to the apartments which would be our home for the next 2 nights. We only had minutes to make ourselves comfortable in our new accommodations and quickly head down to level 5 for dinner. The White and Blue bus reunited and it was another chance for us to put our differences aside and just enjoy the fact that we’ve finished all our service projects and we can relax with the best people there is. We had pizza for dinner and golly, there was so much and so many varieties of pizza! Once we finished we went back to our rooms and had the long awaited showers that we dreamt of. Once we got refreshed, we went out to explore the wonders of Brisbane. Some of us went sight-seeing, wandering down different streets and checking out what the Story Bridge looked like at night.

The next day, we all got dressed in our finest TBL 2012 T-shirts and headed to QUT for the conference for social change. We had guests speakers like Dawn O’Neil where she talked about suicide prevention, Yaara Bau Melham who won Young Australian Television Journalist of the Year in 2009, and Chris Raine the founder and CEO of Hello Sunday Morning. It was then our turn to shine under the spotlight and illustrate how the Big Lift is rethinking social change. Crew members Will and Phoebe used a nifty PowerPoint presentation that clearly demonstrates what TBL is all about. After the presentations, we broke into groups where each group had a different subject and worked together to relate it back to social change. We also had a chance to come up with ideas on how to solve current issues like cutting costs on the foreign aid budget. We then had a Brazilian lunch that was filled with delightful and exotic flavours. After the conference, we practised our flash mob to none other than the glorious Carly Rae Jepsen choreographed by Pip, Sophie, and Eva which they created the night before! Once we finished we headed back to the apartments to get ready for our next activity, Random Acts of Kindness.

Each group was given twenty dollars each to help create our Random Acts of Kindness. Some people bought tea bags, lottery tickets, umbrellas, even a shower curtain to shield friendly locals from the terrible rain that blanketed the city. My team consisting of Tuan, Chloe, Sophia, Fiona, Ravneel, and Jason bought some permanent markers and colourful posters and gave out free hi-5’s to locals. It felt amazing and rewarding to see the smiles on their faces when we gave them hi-5!

At 6pm sharp we waited at Queen Street mall to hear the sweet serenade of Carly Rae’s voice. Unfortunately, the speakers failed us due to the rainy weather but that did not stop us or our voices, so we sang our hearts out to “Call Me Maybe” and rocked the flash mob! We all got wet, it was cold, but it was such a great experience and the crowd seemed to enjoy it as well!

While we thought that the flash mob was the last activity for the day, the crew surprised us with a race around Brisbane called THE BIGMAZING RACE! Many of us got pretty competitive, not mentioning any names (Jeremy) literally ran all around the city, bringing his team into 1st place. Some of us took our time and got side-tracked and went site-seeing, some of the clues were totally cryptic for some groups but the game gave us the opportunity to see what Brisbane is made of. The clues took us to places like Central Station, Queen Karaoke, St Stephen’s Cathedral, the Riverside Centre, ANZAC Square, and finally South Bank where we had to take a photo of one of us leaning on the Ferris wheel, and a photo of all of us in front of an exquisite temple mimicking the statues in front of it. The final pit stop was South Bank beach where some of the crew members waited patiently for all the groups to pass the finish line. Some groups unfortunately didn’t decipher all the clues and instead of being marked as a “Did Not Finish”, had the opportunity to jump into the freezing cold water to make up for it! Our team managed to complete the whole race and came in at 6th, it didn’t matter who won or lost because in the end we are all winners for surviving the cold.

As we headed back to the hotel drenched and shivering, some turned in early, some stayed in and played games that really brought us even closer together as a family, and some went out to the Vic and partied all night. Carley Rae was blasting away from the speakers and another flash mob came to life. Overall, the last night in Brisbane is truly one of the highlights of the trip and I would never trade it for anything... well except for it to never end!

The next morning, we sluggishly packed our bags and met everyone down at the lobby at 8:30 sharp to leave Brisbane and head to Valla Beach. I will truly miss Brisbane. The memories and friends I’ve made and shared and the crazy activities we completed, it is something I will carry next to my heart for life! I love you TBL!!

By Tara Nguyen