The Big Lift 2014
Where we went
In 2014, we sent 72 students on two buses traveling up through rural NSW and QLD, stopping off at 4 towns each along the way. The Blue Bus visited Geurie, Wee Waa, Mungindi and Texas, while the White Bus traveled to Wongarbon, Walgett, Millmerran and Miles. Both buses began their journey in Sydney and reunited at the Emu Logic Farm, Moree Baths, and finally in the Gold Coast before they continued home via Valla Beach together.
What we did...
In Wongarbon, we were given the opportunity to help spruce up the local tennis club, with our team tackling three different service projects - giving the outdoor benches a splash of colour, mulching the new playground, and clearing weeds from the old bike track and making it usable again. We were helped along by enthusiastic local kids, who were extremely excited about their new playground!
It was a gloriously sunny day in Walgett with not a cloud in the sky to be seen. Buoyed by the fantastic weather, the White Bus attacked the service project with fervour, painting the showground sheds and show yards (and sometimes each other!) a bright TBL blue.
The White Bus returned to Millmerran where we were once again showered with generosity and hospitality by the locals. To make the most of our time there, we split up into several groups to tackle landcare at the local park, maintenance at the Historical Society, and helping out at the Retirement Village before we were treated to an absolutely delicious home-cooked spread for lunch!
We knew that Miles was going to be a stop to remember when we were treated upon arrival to a steaming vat of delicious pumpkin soup! Eager to repay this kindness, the White Bus worked hard on a variety of jobs around the Miles Historical Village, leaving it much cleaner, fresher and brighter than when we'd found it!
The Blue Bus was truly welcomed into this town with a hearty full lamb spit roast which kick-started our energy and led to us painting at the local memorial club, washing their windows, doing some general gardening and planting and even pulling down an old toilet block building!
The infamous Wee Waa cold didn't stop us from working extra hard to muck out every single horse stall at the showgrounds as well as going around the area picking up rubbish and emptying the bins. In fact, it may have helped us work harder to help stay warm!
We split into several smaller teams to help out all over including gardening and tidying up a local retirement village, cleaning the walls and windows at the technology centre, doing some general admin work, contacting books for the primary school and giving the sports hall a huge tidy up including washing windows.
Last but not least, the Blue Bus was put hard to work on their final destination to give the Men's Shed a brand new look by painting it top to bottom both inside and out!
White and Blue Buses
After a week's worth of hard work, we were rewarded upon arrival into the Gold Coast with hot showers, warm beds and a tasty pizza dinner. It also provided an opportunity for participants on both buses to catch up with each other and swap stories of the exciting week they had just had. The following day, participants were sent racing across Surfers Paradise as they took part in the annual BigMazing Race photo scavenger hunt. In total, a whopping 400+ photo submissions were uploaded to Instagram that morning, with the Woo Girls ultimately taking out the title. We then hit the streets of Cavill Mall to perform Random Acts of Kindness, before culminating in a massive dance flashmob to Pharrell Williams' inescapable hit, Happy! High on life and love, we all settled down to a family dinner at Chaopraya Thai and celebrated the amazing experiences we had just shared together.
It was with heavy hearts that we packed our bags and departed the Gold Coast. On the way to Valla Beach, we stopped off at Byron Bay for lunch, which provided an opportunity for a spontaneous encore of our flashmob on the beach. When we finally rolled into Valla Beach, we cooked ourselves a hearty BBQ dinner before showcasing the talents of our Lifters at the annual Bus Idol Final! We then had an opportunity to reflect upon the experiences we had shared, the lessons learnt, and the new friendships made during The Big Lift. Participants who stayed up all night were rewarded with an incredible sunrise over the beach - the perfect way to cap off the perfect week.
To read more about our day-to-day activities and the impact of the trip, check out our blog!