July 14, 2017
A large group of university students put in a month’s work on Thursday morning to help five Blackbutt community groups give parts of the town a facelift.
The students – 40 from Sydney’s University of Technology and 7 from the Queensland University of Technology – are part of The Big Lift, a not-for-profit group that aims to support regional communities through meaningful volunteering.
The Sydney students were part of a two busload, 80-strong contingent that had spent the previous eight days of their winter vacation working at Canowindra, Peak Hill, Trangie, Walgett, Tingha, and Tenterfield.
From Tenterfield, one bus went to Clifton and the other to Blackbutt, with both groups planning to reunite at the Gold Coast on Friday.
The QUT students, on the other hand, had spent the previous week working at Dalby, Injune, Roma and Chinchilla.
Seven of them decided to drop into Blackbutt on the way back to Brisbane to meet their interstate counterparts and lend a hand, too.
The UTS students arrived at the Blackbutt Showgrounds on Wednesday night, where they were treated to a community dinner, given goodie bags that included the famous “Night Life In Blackbutt” T-shirt, and housed overnight.
On Thursday morning, the students were split into five work groups and then spent the next four hours carrying out their assignments.
Their projects included planting trees for the Friends Of The Earth And Trees; cleaning up a very large garden in the Scott Haven complex for the Blackbutt-Benarkin Aged Care Association; several painting and clean-up tasks in the Showgrounds for the Show Society and Blackbutt Avocado Festival; and carrying out maintenance on the wagon enclosure in Les Muller Park for the Blackbutt and District Tourism and Heritage Association.
Afterwards, they regrouped at the Showgrounds for lunch and thankyous from the Blackbutt groups they’d helped.
Blackbutt Avocado Festival chairman Jeff Connor said the amount of work the students had carried out during the morning was surprising.
“It would have taken the volunteer groups you’ve helped much longer to do all these things because of lack of manpower,” Jeff said.
“We really appreciate you coming to Blackbutt – please come again!”
Cr Spud Jones told the UTS students he felt sad they had come to Queensland just as the Blues were being thrashed at Suncorp Stadium, but was very appreciative of their efforts all the same.
“When community groups can’t do a job it usually falls on Council to do it,” Cr Jones said.
“We can only do so much, like everyone else, so your contribution has made a real difference.”
The Big Lift group plans to return to the South Burnett towards the end of the year, and will be visiting Cherbourg on their next trip.