Our Big Lift adventure has just got started, and we’ve already come so far!

After meeting at the tower building of UTS and playing a couple of games (which involved some surprisingly enthusiastic dancing considering the 7:30am designated meeting time), we packed our bags onto the white bus and set off. We hit the highway out of Sydney CBD with our theme song, ‘Happy’, at full blast.

Getting ready to hit the road with the usual TBL spirit!

Getting ready to hit the road with the usual TBL spirit!

We had a round of speed-friending to pass the time and get to know the people with whom we’d spend the next week. And of course, we asked each other only the most important of questions; would you rather true love, or five million dollars? What one item would you take with you to a deserted island? Would you make a good stalker?

We pulled over in Lithgow for lunch, and split up to scour the town for somewhere warm. Some of us managed to find the most gloriously hot beef pies in all of Lithgow (I imagine) and spent the best part of about 2 seconds scoffing hot snacks. We then reconvened with the whole group in the town’s park for what would be the first of many games of Frisbee.

The second half our trip went as fast as the pies had done, and soon enough we were pulling into Wongarbon.  A group of kids playing on a basketball court watched us pull up and begin unloading the bus, and were super keen to be a part of the excitement. We threw our bags into a two-room building, complete with kitchenette, where we would be spending the night, and almost immediately began a high-paced scavenger hunt around the town. With the local kids’ help, we managed to find the post office, pub, climb trees, make a human pyramid, get a photo of team members jumping next to a Toyota, re-enact the Saddle Club opening theme using the town’s horse statue, and complete many other challenges.

We were exhausted by the time we arrived back at our basketball court-adjacent holiday house, and whipped up a sausage sizzle (provided by the town!) on the public barbeques. We finished the day with some team-building games, thanks to which I finally managed to memorise the names of everybody in the group, as well as learn a few quirky facts about everyone. It was a while before we all were calm and had stopped giggling enough to fall asleep in the big room, our sleeping mats and bags arranged over every inch of floorspace available.

We were woken up at about 6:30am the next day by a huge chorus of G-O-O-D M-O-R-N-I-N-G! After a breakfast of cereal and toast, we packed up and got ready for our day of service work. We were allocated three jobs to complete before lunch- spreading an enormous mound of mulch over the local playground, re-painting the park’s picnic tables, and clearing the dirt bike path of weeds. We set about it enthusiastically, and despite the cold of morning, after the first half hour we had really worked up a sweat. Each group leant to work together as a team, and in the mulch-distributing team we developed highly-specialised groups of wheelbarrow movers, mulch-shovelers, and mulch-rakers. The painters went about their task so enthusiastically that they themselves were splashed and smeared with paint and by lunchtime closely resembled the tables they had worked on.

It was so satisfying to watch that seemingly insurmountable task transform from a mountain, to a mound, to a small pile, until finally we were scraping the last bits of mulch into the playground. By the time we were finished, the park had been transformed by the new groundcover, picnic tables which now looked brand-new, and a weed-free bike path. The local kids from the day before set about immediately climbing the monkey bars and running through the mulched park, and joined us for a well-earned sausage sizzle lunch with bacon and eggs.

Thank you Wongarbon!

Thank you Wongarbon!

We are now on the bus to our next destination following a heartfelt exchanging of thanks with our Wongarbon friends who had provided us with meals, accommodation, and directed us in our tasks. It has been a really exciting day, and although my arms are aching from pushing wheelbarrows of mulch, it was so great to see our hard work immediately being appreciated by the local kids who will benefit from the improved playground. I’m looking forward to finding out what awaits us at the next step of our journey!

By Nefarious Nell