The Big Lift 2015
WHERE WE WENT..
For #TBL2015, we sent two busloads of students through rural NSW and QLD, stopping off at 4 towns each along the way of which we all admittedly had difficulty pronouncing correctly. The Blue Bus visited Canowindra, Trangie, Glen Innes and Cooyar, while the White Bus traveled to Gooloogong, Gulgong, Thallon and Pittsworth. Both buses began their journey in Sydney before being reunited at the Emu Logic Farm, Moree Baths, and finally in the Gold Coast before they continued home via Valla Beach together. And for the first time EVER in #TBL history, we ran our first joint town at Narrabri, whereby both buses reunited and worked on multiple service projects together!
What we did...
Upon arrival in the town of Canowindra (aka the town which caused considerable pronunciation confusion amongst lifters), blue blus lifters were treated to a scrumdiddlymptious meal provided by the welcoming and humble ladies of the local pub a short walk away from Canowindra Public School. The morning sun quickly arose the following morning and before we knew it, it was time to put in the hard yards to repay the hearty welcome we had been graced with. Our team tackled three different service projects; gardening and landscaping the community garden, clearing out and freeing the shed from stranglehold weeds, and repainting sections of the public school. To make matters all the more merrier, we were even assisted by local enthusiastic community members as well as resident school children, who were delighted to see us giving their beloved school a splash of colour!
After bidding farewell to the lovely town of Canowindra, Blue Bus found themselves rolling into what was hands-down their chilliest town of the trip- Trangie. Thankfully the residents of Trangie surprised us with a heartily warm dinner with a plethora of options. From pumpkin soup to quinoa salad to vegetarian lasagne and pizza, the Trangie residents had everything you could possibly imagine covered. Eager to repay the kindness we were showered with, Blue Bus awoke with a spring in their step the following day and worked on a variety of different service projects, ranging from gardening, raking up autumn leaves that littered the streets, sprucing up old storerooms, and dusting and cleaning windows.
Physically exhausted from late night activities the night before yet thrilled to see what awaited us in our next town, Blue bus arrived in Glen Innes- the coldest town in rural NSW! Thankfully the Glen Innes Showground society listened to our hopeful whispers for warm accommodation and accommodated us directly adjacent to the showground with a room containing heaters that, unsurprisingly, worked a full 8 hour shift! Appreciative for the assortment of dinner options courteously supplied by the locals, including the finger-licking delicious chocolate fudge served with ice-cream that we couldn't stop rhapsodising about into the wee-early hours of the morning, we attacked our one major service project- moving large chunks of wood from location to another- the following morning with unprecedented fervour.
If there was one town we remember more vividly than others it would 99.99% be Cooyar, or COO-YAR as we all quickly began to chorus once we realised it had a funky ring to it. With a town population of approximately 250 people, Cooyar was certainly one of the most underpopulated towns we had visited, yet hands-down one of our most emotional, memorable and downright favourite towns of #TBL2015. After devouring the delicious handmade soups generously cooked by the townsfolk, we found ourselves buzzing with energy and ready for our final day of service projects which included clearing up the community garden, cleaning and dusting windows at the local hall, and repainting the wooden picks that surrounded the local cemetery. And we were SO stoked to have community local Les lending a helping hand to paint the Cooyar cemetery alongside us! #YEAHBUDDY
Departing Sydney on an early Saturday morning, White Bus found themselves heading for their first town, Gooloogong. Home to some 295 people, white bus participants worked on five major service projects; washing/cleaning fire engines, mulching a school yard, clearing and organising the local school hall, assisting with forest regeneration and general maintenance of the nearby horse racing course. With pumpkin soup in our bellies generously provided by the locals after having completed all our service projects, we were ready to tackle their next town which sounded strangely similar to good ol' Gooloogong!
With a frosty night in Gooloogong behind them and participants thundering through all the service projects, White bus were ready for just about anything- including a town name easier to enunciate and warmth. Luckily White bus's prayers were heard as they were greeted with the unexpected surprise of sleeping in on-site sleeping dorms that had hot showers! We were divided into four small groups to help out all over including planting new trees, freeing pathways and buildings from decade-old weeds, mulching, and giving old buildings a splash of colour. With plenty of hands on deck, we completed the service projects in no time!
White Bus was truly welcomed into Thallon with open arms and all-embracing smiles with the local pub providing them dinner and even a #TBLarge bonfire to keep extra special warm! Awoken by the pleasant aroma of bacon and eggs (#wakeywakeyeggsandbakey) and other breakfast goodies circulating in the air, we quickly ate breakfast and dived straight into our service projects for the day to repay the favour. Here we infused new colour into old handball courts, reorganised the local storeroom, raked up scattered mulch, and cleaned up rubbish all over the town.
Despite a tiring 4 days of laborious work from previous towns, White Bus spirits were higher than ever. And if one town knew how to raise those spirits even higher than what they already were, it was Pittsworth. Upon arrival we were treated to a classic burger and chips dinner at the local take-away store in town just a short bus trip away from our accommodation for the night. After being awoken by chilling temperatures and thick fog, we quickly guzzled down our breakfast and attacked our two service projects; planting trees and edible crops and removing a gajillion weeds from the nearby environmental park. Last but not least, the locals rewarded our hard-working efforts with a scrumptious platter of sandwiches and fruits- quite possibly the most refreshing way to top off our final town!
Blue and White Bus
Thrilled to mingle and meet up and exchange stories about all the amazing experiences we had had over the first two days, it was then time for both buses to unite in the town of Narrabri- our FIRST EVER joint town in #TBLhistory. Immensely moved by our uniquely fulfilling Pay It Forward vision, the town of Narrabri- home to 5,800 community locals- welcomed us with their rural hearts with open arms. After working together to cook dinner for ourselves, it was then time for our annual #TBLympics competition, in which both buses competed against each other in a string of activities. Totally exhausted from a night of activities, late night giggles, and enthusiastically recounting our memorable experiences, we then all awoke the following morning with springs in our step for another fun-filled, action-packed day. Narrabri had courteously organised multiple different service projects around town and so we were divided into several smaller groups to tackle all the service projects that had been arranged; some groups shovelled manure to and fro', others gave old, derelict buildings a new splash of colour (as well as ourselves!), some assisted with general rubbish clean-up over town, and others pruned and weeded gardens.
Sweaty, sleep deprived and bemused by the sight of urbanisation and cars left, right and centre after a week of barely any commotion, we were rewarded upon our arrival in the Gold Coast with hot showers, cosy and comfortable beds and a traditional TBL pizza dinner. With both buses reunited again, this gave participants the opportunity to share their experiences with other bus members and exchange stories from the exhilarating week they just had. The following day we held our annual #BigMazing Race photo hunt which saw a sea of blue and white racing across Surfer's Paradise and the mischievous crew dupe several teams into performing extra challenges valued at no extra points. Substantially revitalised after a delicious lunch meal we then took to the streets of Cavill Mall to perform random acts of kindness before congregating together shortly after to give lucky, unsuspecting members of the public a taste of our flashmob dance to our bus anthem 'Shut Up And Dance' that we had been practising throughout the week. Incredibly proud with our flashmob performance, we then took off our dancing shoes, donned ourselves into our nicest outfits and headed down for a family dinner at Chaopraya Thai where we all got to share and reflect upon our incredible efforts and experiences over the past week.
It was with heavy footsteps and glum hearts that we packed our bags and departed the Gold Coast. On our way to Valla Beach, we pit stopped at Byron Bay for lunch where some of us decided to have a quick gander at some of the stores, and some of us were quite content with absorbing the wonderful scenery. After rolling into Valla Beach at night and cooking ourselves a traditional TBL BBQ, it was then time for talent to shine in the Bus Idol Final. The competition was fierce as both buses vied against each other to take home the title of Bus Idol Winner. Following a nail-bitingly narrow contest between Blue bus babes and White Bus felines that left the judges torn, White Bus were crowned winners of Bus Idol for #TBL2015. We then had an opportunity to reflect upon our experiences, the lessons we learnt, our new perspectives, and the friendships we developed during the course of the trip. Participants who remained awake throughout the whole entire night were then rewarded with a stunning sunrise over the beach- the icing on the cake after a perfect week.
To read more about our day-to-day activities and the impact of the trip, check out our blog!