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Outback dedication inspires epic journey

There have been various inspirational stories recently of how Outback players, kids and parents need to travel regularly to play games; but last week, the situation was reversed - and the games and opposition came to them!

The Under 13s from the Greenbank Raiders in Brisbane travelled more than 1000 kilometres to Barcaldine and Blackall during the recent school holidays to play two games of footy against the Central West locals.

The idea was formed by Greenbank Secretary and Under 13 Manager Mel O’Sullivan’s recent attendance at February’s statewide QRL Administration Conference.

After listening to Blackall’s Hector Heumiller and Phil “Flop” Rooney speak about the community spirit and how the locals all support each other in the small rural town, she introduced herself to the boys to get the ball rolling, thinking this could be a great learning experience for her club.

O’Sullivan then went back to Greenbank and explained her idea to the club who agreed to help out the team … then the real work started - organising the trip.

She explained that the trip was a pilot of what she would like to achieve for more teams within the club and that she thought it would help with team bonding, mateship, community spirit and bringing families together.

The team and parents left Greenbank at 6pm on Friday April 5 and arrived in Blackall at 5.30am the following Saturday. 

They had a couple of hours rest before heading to the Blackall Showgrounds and there they played a combined Central West team.

They also played in Barcaldine on Wednesday, April 10 prior to leaving at 8.30am the next morning, getting home around 12 hours later after a busy week away.

In between the games, they toured the Wool Scour Shed, went to the other side of the Black Stump, visited a slaughterhouse, made sausages at the local butchery and met several friendly locals who were only too willing to show real Blackall hospitality.

They organised tents and swags to camp at the Blackall Tennis complex, but in true outback style, discarded the tents after the first night to sleep under the stars.

Not only did they get plenty out of their trip, but they also contributed to the Blackall community by making a $500 donation to the local swimming club which has been struggling of late.

They also bought a jersey at the Magpies’ charity auction, where all proceeds went to the Cancer Foundation.

Mel and the Greenbank club are hoping to make this an annual event as they witnessed the benefit the players gained in the very short time they were together.

  • If any other club would like an experience like this, don’t hesitate to contact any of the teams in the outback or contact Outback operations manager Peter Rafter on 0430 303 643 or p.rafter@qrl.com.au and he will put you in touch with one of the many clubs.