We woke up to a new week absolutely freezing. We were in a showgrounds pavilion on the outskirts of Walgett in the middle of nowhere. However, most of us seemed to sleep pretty well and we ventured outside to a beautiful sunrise bringing forth a glorious day. A barbequed breakfast followed and we all got changed into our old clothes for painting. Most of the group painted the bulls’ gates at the racecourse blue, white, red and green having a lot of fun in the process. Some of the team also gave the watchtower a makeover. We all started to get to know each other much better and began forming close friendships whilst painting. The dog of one of the hosts was a hit especially with the girls who gave it a treat by rubbing its tummy. We headed back to the showgrounds for another barbequed lunch which was very scrummy and then took some photos with the locals and handed out the TBL certificates and t-shirt. We said our farewells and boarded the bus content and satisfied at being well looked after. A big ‘YEAH BUDDY!’ to Tara for doing all the behind-the-scenes work for us at Walgett and in making sure we were kept comfortable.

After leaving the quiet and peaceful showgrounds of Walgett at midday on Monday, we made our way to Millmerran via Moree. The countryside was very pleasant with the sun shining brightly and the brilliant, blue sky stretching as far as the eye could see. We stopped off at the Moree Artesian Baths where we had a chance to bare our skin and relax for an hour or so. The water was really warm and the jets nice on your back, massaging away the previous night’s sleep on the hard, wooden floors. It was a good chance to reflect on the hectic but enjoyable trip to date. We recharged our batteries with hot chips, drinks and sweets before we were off again. The sun started sinking lower in the sky as we travelled onwards to Millmerran. The whole landscape was lit up with field after field stretching endlessly into the distance. It was easy to see yet hard to fathom how flat and vast Australia is. Darkness fell and we were all chatting away happily in our little groups or sleeping. We eventually arrived at Millmerran around 6:30pm where we stayed in a spacious yet chilly school hall and immediately started kicking a ball around in a circle much to the dislike of one of the older locals. For dinner we devoured another dose of the legendary barbequed sausage that our stomachs were screaming at us not to have.

That night we had a fun round of activities called TBL Olympics. We were split into our working ops groups and first of all had to come up with a team name, a drawing of it and a song to top it off. Some of the names such as the Annihilating Octopuses and the performances such as from Juicy were quality but the name often didn’t live up to the performance and vice versa. It was all about strategy and teamwork with the ball challenges where the first one required us to transfer the ball from between our legs to between the other member’s legs. This was hard and somewhat awkward but not as bad as trying to move a tennis ball from underneath our chin to underneath the other person’s chin which basically looked like making out gone wrong. A further challenge was to have two participants run with a snake lolly attached to toothpicks in each other’s mouths. This was fun but a little bit disturbing. In the final challenge we had to jump as a group huddle along the hall and stop in a hula hoop at the end of it which involved a lot of cheating and could have ended dangerously but did result in a winner. Happy Feet won the Olympics but everyone had a pretty swell time. The ensuing night in the hall proved to be a cold one, probably the coldest of the trip but everyone seemed to sleep fairly well judging by the snoring.

We woke up to the standard ‘G-O-O-D M-O-R-N-I-N-G Good Morning! Hey! Hey! Good Morning!’ And it was a good morning with the sunrise radiating through the windows of the hall. We had, you guessed it sausages again for breakfast but most opted for cereal. We split into different groups to go off to our separate service projects. These included landcare, helping out at the lovely Jeanette’s home, doing scaffolding and odd jobs at the historical museum and assisting at the retirement village. John’s team spent time weeding the garden out the back and around the side of the retirement village in the beating sun. A group also went inside and did some superb window cleaning. We stopped mid-morning for a delicious brunch of savouries and baked goodies. We got to know a couple of workers in the retirement village who were very friendly. On goodbye to the retirement village we got a photo with the workers in front of the sign and handed out the certificates and the TBL shirt. Lunch was a cracker barbeque feast with some more delicious home-baked sweets leaving us all feeling very content and in love with Millmerran. It was a beautiful morning doing a variety of service projects in a pretty town that was very hospitable. A special ‘YEH BUDDY!’ must go to Laura for organising the activities and ensuring everything went so smoothly at Millmerran. We took a big group photo with the hosts and gave out the certificates and the t-shirt which the local bloke actually put on. It was time to say goodbye to Millmerran but not for good as it was such a gorgeous town in its stereotypical country way that all of us would definitely like to return to one day.

By Rich Rich