A gift back to community

Santa delivering gifts to people on the bus.

Michael R Williams

To share out the Christmas spirit, Outback Aussie Tours hosted a Christmas Light Tour, allowing locals to ride in the new tour bus recently dubbed, “Nellie” around the streets of Longreach.

Locals who had their lights displays erect greeted the bus and waved as it drove by.

Participants were asked to donate a gold coin which went to the Longreach Police Food Drive.

Outback Aussie Tours Business Owner Alan Smith said the idea came from the company’s “amazing” team.

“It was enhanced a little bit this year by Rochelle Patten, she pulled in a few more punches in fitting the display, getting the emergency services on board, and cranking up the profile and experience for the kids,” he said.

“We incorporated a few new things this year, it was well supported by the ambulance, the firies, and the police – the decorations in and outside the bus was new, and our driver, Brett Hintz did an excellent job, not only decorating the bus, but he actually did some research.

“He also put together the left v right side competition, and all of a sudden it became about more than just the lights, but the experience onboard looking aside as well.”

During the lights tour, attendees were treated to a visit from Santa.

Mr Smith said Santa’s appearance meant a lot to the staff at Outback Aussie Tours.

“Santa actually turned up at one of the light displays and handed out chocolates to all the people on the bus,” he said.

“He even got back to the railway station in time to take some photos on the big red couch.

“Santa’s had a lot of great messages sent to him throughout the year, particularly our team [Outback Aussie] who love Christmas, and he’s got that Christmas vibe.

“He thought why not give back to the people of Longreach and hold an event at the Longreach Railway Station.”

Mr Smith said Santa was pleased to hear what all the local kids want to have for Christmas.

“Two kids wanted scooters, one with a bell and one without; and then one of them wanted just a bell,” he said.

“Santa was very engaged and jolly.

“Lots of ho ho hos.”

At the railway station, where the bus left off and arrived, there were other extra added activities, such as face painting, a sausage sizzle, a playpen, and music from Corrine Ballard.

The event raised $300 for the Police Food Drive

“There wouldn’t have been more than 100 people there so some people spent more than their gold coin donation,” he said.

“So that was really good.”

Mr Smith said next year the team would like to ramp things up.

“We’d like to make more money [for the charity] because this is our way of giving back to the community,” he said.

“What I love about the Food Drive is that people have donated down at the IGA, but they need cash.

“We’d like to work out ways to make that a bit higher [the company’s donation], so we can support those that not many people know about.

“At the end of the day, we need to look after those people because they are a dear part of our community.”