The 2019 CHAC Outback Tour aimed to develop a sense of community and expose our students to the outback communities that are the primary producers here in Queensland. The students needed to be prepared to make a positive contribution and demonstrated their commitment by running a series of fundraising events in the lead up to the tour. Staff worked extremely hard in the background to arrange these community-building activities for the tour and our desire was for the tour to be filled with students who would like to ‘give something back’ to others, particularly as one of CHAC’s strategic focus areas is building a sense of gratitude. It can be safely said that by tour’s end it has exceeded all expectations of those involved.
The trip commenced with a farm stay experience at Bonus Downs outside of Mitchell, where the hosts, Madonna and Lyle Connolly, led activities including whip-cracking and a tour of the historic homestead, while staff led a photography and sketching activity that aimed to capture the diverse features of the outback. Madonna and Lyle, as farm-stay hosts, also took the students on a tour of their property that included a visit to the Ooline trees on their property and a local indigenous resident who lead a soap-making activity that relied on the use of the native plants in the area.
From Mitchell, the group travelled to Charleville where they set up our own tent city and set about hosting members of the local community for dinner at the campsite. Special guests included a local Anglicare volunteer and a Lions Club member, who each spoke about their roles in the local community. While in Charleville, the students visited the Royal Flying Doctors Service, where, after hearing a talk from one of the nurses, inspecting the plane and meeting a pilot, they donated $7000 from their fundraising efforts throughout the year. The students also completed a day of community-building activities while in Charleville, including small groups attending the Waroona Aged Care facility, visiting the local police and fire stations, and working in the gardens at the local Anglican Church. A highlight of the time in Charleville was the night time visit to the Cosmos Centre to observe aspects of the Milky Way up close.
From Charleville, the group travelled back to Roma to attend the cattle sales and visited the Roma hospital, where two nurses spoke to the students about the benefits of living and working in a small town. The trip concluded with a long bus trip back to Brisbane, which gave students and staff plenty of time to reflect upon our experiences. While everyone had an excellent time, the tour also provided students with a greater understanding of how lucky they all are to have access to all the resources and luxuries, which can often be taken for granted here in the city.