A Brisbane man who travelled to the Gympie Region to help with last fortnight’s flood clean-up is returning with a busload of people to provide assistance of a different kind.
- The country support tour was born at the start of the pandemic to support suffering businesses
- The tour will leave Brisbane on Saturday, February 5, and travel through small towns before arriving at Goomeri
- The tour will host a party to raise money for flood-affected residents
Instead of shovelling mud, David Rakowski will take a seat alongside dozens of other Brisbanites in pubs, bakeries and hotels across the region as part of the Country Support Tour to boost local economies.
Mr Rakowski said the tour was a solution for city people who “can’t fix fences” to help their country counterparts.
“I think it’s the follow-up that they need and I encourage more city people to do it,” he said.
“It might not be cleaning, it might not be painting or fixing fences, but it might just be having a meat pie at the bakery or doing a shop at the FoodWorks, filling up with fuel in the country.”
A 30-seater bus and a number of cars from the tour will stop off at pubs and shops at Woodford, Blackbutt, Wooroolin, Nanango and Kilkivan before staying the night at Goomeri on Saturday, February 5.
The next day, with the help of local businesses donating food, drink and their services, Mr Rakowski will feed the town of Tansey breakfast for free and provide locals with an opportunity to catch up four weeks after the town was hit by floods.
“Regional communities have been feeding us for centuries and are always first to put up their hand to help each other out, so this is a small step towards us showing our gratitude,” he said.
COVID crippling communities
Several small towns within the Gympie Region suffered extensive damage in the floods on January 7–8.
Goomeri hotel and pub owner Joe Prendergast said the initiative would give the town the boost it needed after flooding and the wrath of Queensland’s COVID-19 Omicron wave.
“It’s a great thing when people come and stay in a region — they spend money on breakfasts, they buy the paper, they buy local produce and that sort of thing,” he said.
Mr Prendergast said business at his hotel and bakery was the quietest it had ever been at this time of year.
“People possibly aren’t travelling out this way as much because they think there’s a huge amount of road damage and their cars won’t handle it and stuff like that,” he said.
“[Since] the borders reopened things have slowed up a little bit.
“We were very busy and … I think with COVID going a little bit crazy at the moment, people are sort of steering clear or staying home a bit more than they were.”
He hoped the tour would encourage people to return to the small towns of the Gympie region.
‘If it feels good, do it twice’
Since the start of the pandemic and after watching his wife almost lose her Brisbane restaurant to COVID-19 two years ago, Mr Rakowski has led 11 tours from Brisbane to country towns.
“We just decided to put a couple of mates in the car and go out and visit a few country pubs and just spend a bit of cash out there instead of $10 bloody beers in the city,” Mr Rakowski said.
“I always say if it feels good, do it twice.”
Mr Rakowski is urging people outside flood-affected areas to join the tour on Saturday or to buy breakfast at Tansey on Sunday, where all funds raised will go back to the community.
He said if people could not attend, they could transfer him money to “buy a bushie a beer”.
“Which simply means send to me whatever you paid for your last beer or your last drink and I will then cash that out and I’ll take that and buy the locals a beer with that money,” he said.
“So most of the trips I get between $500 and $1,000 donated and my bank balance is covered in $5, $7, and $8 [donations] — and it all adds up.”