By Steph McNicol
MITCHELL Shire-based nature-play program The Bush Bus has triumphed and is now expanding interstate.
The program, created by Georgina Dymock, founder of Kidding Around Australia, aims to engage children by allowing them to enjoy sensory imaginative play.
Activities include nature-inspired arts and crafts; water, mud and puddle play; and educational nature walks and talks to uncover Indigenous flora and fauna of their local area.
The Bush Bus, initially funded through the State Government’s Pick My Project initiative in 2019, has overcome hurdles along the way, incluing the COVID-19 pandemic and funding challenges.
The program originally started with a small group of children at locations throughout Mitchell Shire each week, but has now expanded to several school visits, and travels to Moama, New South Wales.
Ms Dymock said while COVID-19 impacted what the group was intended for, it was able to overcome the challenges and secure further funding.
“The COVID-19 restrictions impacted our program immensely as we were unable to run in-person sessions. In order to keep our little Bush Bus Buddies connected we ran Bush Bus Online sessions throughout 2020,” she said.
“In 2019, we welcomed over 6000 participants in Mitchell Shire. In 2020 and 2021 we obtained sponsorship from Frasers Property, which allowed us to expand to The Grove in Wyndham Shire and Life, Point Cook in Hobsons Bay Council as well as maintaining two days per week in Wallara Waters and the Broadford Common in Mitchell Shire Council.
“We were also successful in obtaining funding from the NSW government’s Stronger Country Communities Fund, round three, to run The Bush Bus in Murray River Council, and Mitchell Shire Council to run eight sessions at Tooborac Primary School in term two and term four, 2021.
“We will be in Moama two days per week on Tuesdays and Fridays and will be running two regional tours throughout Murray River Council twice per year.”
Ms Dymock said she was grateful for the funding support by the community.
“Our weekly Victorian sessions are supported until the end of May by businesses such as Frasers Property Australia, Quantam Comms, Wellington Square Shopping Centre, Kilmore and Seymour Toyota,” she said.
“We are so grateful for the support we have received and look forward to securing funding for spring and summer 2021 and for 2022 in the coming months.”
The Bush Bus will host special pop-up Easter session at Wallara Waters, Wallan from 10am to 12pm on March 27; and at Point Cook on March 28. It also visits Tooborac Primary School.
For more information or bookings, visit www.facebook.com/thebushbus.