For the first time in our seven years of running, we decided to travel through regional NSW and VIC, all the way to Melbourne which was our celebration city. The summer trip, which took place earlier in the year, was a catalyst for continuing our journey in this direction. This year we took 80 students on two busloads across the country over nine days - the Blue bus travelled to the towns of Woodstock, Gundaroo, Bombala, Orbost, and Stratford, while the White bus travelled to the towns of Wyangala, Captains Flat, Dalgety, Orbost, and Rosedale. Orbost was our joint town. What we learnt through this very successful and rewarding trip was that there is plenty of help that can be appreciated across Australia no matter where you go - there were many jobs that the townspeople wanted to get done but didn't have the resources to do so, or the case was that our helping hand allowed them to focus their resources on other things. What we also learnt was that the fear of trying something different, or even the concern of really cold weather, should not deter your adventures - a passion for a cause, and thorough preparation and planning can mitigate all these concerns. What met us on this trip were some of the most warm and generous people you'll ever meet, towns rich with history and charming in their own right, and the discovery of Australia's incredibly breathtaking and beautiful landscapes all the way from Sydney to Melbourne and back.

We are all very excited by the opportunity for students to continue the relations they started with the townspeople, and even to see the relations between the townspeople strengthened as a result of our visit - whether it be for a homestay, a reminiscent road trip or a visit to the town for their annual festival, this is only the beginning. Where will The Big Lift travel next? 

We'd love to give a special shout out to our sponsors: Activate UTS, UTS Student Services, Pegasus Coaches, Faculty of Health, Faculty of Arts and Social Sciences, UTS International (BUiLD and Community Connections), ING Direct and ResMed for all their support. And to all the townspeople and patrons we encountered along the way who made this trip extra special, with all our might we shout #yeahbuddy!





We helped pull down a fence behind the CWA rooms, did some painting in the CWA room, painted the bowling club, spruced up some trees at the show ground and dug holes in preparation for planting trees. 

Read more about the Woodstock Memorial Show here.


In Gundaroo we did various jobs at the public school including: gardening and weeding, clearing the chicken coop, tree planting and clearing the school hall. We also dug trenches at the Memorial Hall for garden beds, removed debris and moved two organs to be refurbished from the Anglican Church, did some plant restoration and weeding at the oval, completed weeding tasks at the Common, and removed fences at the Catholic Church.



In Bombala we worked closely with Neil for a timber service project where we carried, unloaded and took the donated timber to the Men's Shed to be chopped and sanded. These timber blocks were to be used for making more seats at the show ground. Students also worked with Graham at the Exhibition Centre to take out staples from the walls. We also worked on taking down fences at the show ground and making holes for new posts on the field.



While in Stratford, we spray painted some murial art for the upcoming Shakespeare Festival, sanded and put together some tables for the Segue Community Hub and also completed an artwork on one, chopped up some fire wood, did some tree planting and landscaping at the football and cricket ovals, completed various planting, mowing and sprucing jobs at the Men's Shed, and renovated the seats at the bowling club.

Read more about the town of Stratford here.


White BUS


The projects in Wyangala revolved around helping Wyangala Dam Public School with gardening, planting, moving and spreading mulch and shifting debris.

Captains Flat

In Captains Flat the students moved a massive pile of mulch into garden beds at Captains Flat Public School, as well as painted pots and poles around the school grounds. 


While in Dalgety the students assisted by mulching the playground at Dalgety Public School, doing maintenance work at two houses owned by senior citizens, helped mulch trees and painted the wool shed for the Dalgety Show Society.


In Rosedale we worked with the Lions Club to do some general cleaning of the club's cafe in preparation for the racing season, painting and gardening at the Neighbourhood House, window cleaning at the Women's Auxiliary, painting at the Men's Shed, general cleaning at the historical society building, and cleaning for the mechanical hall committee. 


BLUE and white BUS


Orbost was our joint town where both buses came together to complete projects around the community. Projects around the town included:

Neighbourhood House

- gardening, weeding, general sprucing up of the big front garden and rear vegetable garden 

- moving woodfire logs

- restoring dated historical photos that had been scanned

- clay modelling of maize fields for an art gallery in Bairnsdale

- engineering student helped mock up a drawing for their garden shed repair

Sensory Gardens

- gardening, weeding, trimming and general gardening

- the students were offered a tour of the town as they finished early

RSL Club

- painting

 St James Hall

- cleaning windows, gardens and the hall

- morning tea preparation

- performances from our talent quest were shared during a morning tea open to all the townspeople


While in Melbourne we got up to some fun things! We participated in some random acts of kindness (Watch here) and did a flash mob at Federation Square (Watch here)!



We're just going to leave this here...

The Big Lift Media Internship Media 

The Big Lift lifts NSW and VIC by Cameron McCormack


The Big Lift: Connecting Lives by Harry Roth

An Open Letter To My Future Self by Angela Zhao

The Big Lift (TBL) is a student-run volunteering organisation which works with regional Australian communities. It functions on the belief of “paying it forward” and the idea that many hands can work together to make work small. There is a general consensus that The Big Lift is just a nine day volunteering road trip like a school camp like many of my peers, I joined The Big Lift to give back to community, make a difference and expecting to make a friend or two by the end. This happened and more. Instead I was pleasantly surprised by the presence of comradery between participants through the countless shared experiences and memories throughout this trip.

To the future TBL 2016 group,

The Big Lift 2016 has passed quickly and already we have to separate. This week has been full of many great emotions, stories and moments we’ll never forget. From braving the cold, to early mornings and seeing each other’s sleepy faces we really have gotten to understand each other during our highest and our lowest.

Nothing beats the feeling of knowing that we had helped a town work on projects that they never had the opportunity to do before, bought joy to their day and bonded their community closer together.  The possibility of knowing that our actions will leave an impact in years to come may inspire us to visit again; to see the new completed look of Woodstock’s Lawn Bowling Hall, the veggie patch at Gundaroo Public School, test the benches we helped make at Bombala, catch up for a chat with locals at Orbost or how check how tall the trees we planted at Stratford have grown. Maybe some of us will chose to continue The Big Lift’s motto of “paying it forward” and get involved with other causes.

Can you believe we hardly knew each other before the trip? Starting off “well-rested” at 7:30am on Saturday morning at university, not knowing anyone apart from some people you had briefly met before on pre-departure night. Whose names you had either forgotten or your un-caffeinated brain could not recall. But see how far you’ve come going from strangers to being even able to call them your family. Working together as a team you pulled staples out of walls, cleaned and painted halls, transported timber at the Men’s Shed and of course mulching- so much mulching.  And not to forget sleeping together in halls, churches and even a football club!

And how about towns we visited? Woodstock, though not as lively as its older sister who shares the same name, has a killer of a country fair. Gundaroo with their heritage-listed monuments.  Bombala with their strong ties to the timber industry and popular Men’s Shed. Bohemian Stratford, famous for their Shakespeare on the River Festival, strong support for the arts and AFL. Not to forget the wide range of people we met possible award nominations for the best beard, the future Masterchefs and even a past UTS Alumni. Many residents had originally lived in large cities like Sydney and moved for a tree change. This opportunity to volunteer at these town enabled us to discover the background city and country folk of Australia are not opposites. However the difference lies in our sense of community, possibly due to the rush and crowdedness of the city life we don’t interact with each other as much. Many of us wouldn’t have such a strong relationship with everyone who lived on our street let alone the town as these locals can.

What we did do was we formed our own sense of community. We felt supported as the Lifters always there to help a member in need whether it’ll be food, toiletries, money or just someone to talk to. Bromances and bus crushes were present some bravely going the extra mile writing love notes and showcasing their love at our talent quest.  Heartstrings were pulled- thanks to alpacas and a lamb-, ships set sail and some relationships possibly kindled.

Do you still check out our photos and recall those moments in your spare time? Find the countless selfies from Woodstock to Melbourne and anywhere in between tucked away on your Instagram. Come across the videos of your team mates posing with statues, twerking in 7/11 or performing various other silly tasks. Break out into dance to “Can’t Stop this feeling” or look forward to the ‘good morning’ song at 6:30am.

Will we be glad we went on this trip? Reflecting back on the trip many would be more than happy to relive the same trip with same people, over and over again. A couple of us will be thanking our friends for the recommendation and getting others to sign up. The skills we have learnt from foundations in tree-planting, mulching and lawn bowls will be useful tools in developing our personal and professional identities or possible conversation starters as we depart university. But more than that the people we have met and formed friendships with have helped us see the positive change TBL has bought with it. It sews a hope that we harness a power to influence the world we live in however it is whether we take action upon it or not that makes the difference.

See you soon,

Your current selves