Rainforest to Red Dirt – Outback Missions Trip
Date: May 17, 2016
Queensland farmers are proving to be true Aussie Battlers as they enter their fourth year of devastating drought. Many organisations are providing a helping hand out bush, one being Coast based Care Outreach, headed by dedicated couple Bill and Melissa Close. This year was the second year of Suncoast Christian College’s Outback link program which runs alongside Care Outreach. Seven boys and eight girls from Grades 11 and 12 raised their hands to live and work on South-West properties over the Easter holidays, eager to do whatever they could to give back to the community.
On Friday 18 March we set out on a bus packed with swags, food to last for two weeks and a team of 21 excited students and teachers. After driving for two days (with a few comfort stops along the way) we finally reached our first destination where we divided into four groups and were assigned to a station. Students jumped in to lend a helping hand with whatever needed doing. From cleaning cattle troughs, to using a dingo, painting sheds, to repairing fences. Suncoast teams gave it their all. These were predominantly cattle farms and some students had the privilege to work alongside the farmers, stepping forward to do tagging and branding.
Being isolated with no phone reception was a blessing in disguise as we got to sleep under the stars and cook over an open fire, all the while red dirt finding its way into our every pore. Not only did Suncoast students receive the unique experience of daily life outback, but they came back astounded by how tough and hardworking our farmers and their families are. How this drought affects our farmers is a topic we don’t often hear about in the media. Sending Suncoast students out there did so much more than just lend a hand to farmers; it completely opened our eyes to the real people putting the food on our table. I will definitely appreciate my steak a whole lot more now.
A personal highlight for me was spending unforgettable time with some of the children on the stations, whose education was through the School of the Air and very remote. I am returning to school this term with a newfound appreciation of my peers, teachers and of the opportunities provided to me. These children don’t get to go to netball on Saturday or do the school musical next May. Whilst their lifestyle is awesome in another way I am reminded not to take things for granted – especially the green grass!
Written by Lily Lancaster, Year 12 Student