Monday, the 9th of May. Evening. Cold as a penguin’s behind. With a tank full of petrol and bellies full of butterflies, myself (Editor in Chief Max Williams) and Chief Enabling Officer Chris Varney set off from Melbourne on a quest to the far off twin cities of Albury-Wodonga. Our mission; to talk to the city council about establishing a branch of I CAN Network there.
After four hours on the road, and several unnerving encounters with ginormous trucks doing about 120kph, (Ever see Duel, that early Spielberg movie about the killer truck?) we arrived in Albury, a beautiful town that seemed to be populated by a grand total of 7 people. Seriously, I have never seen streets so empty on a week night! By then it was pretty late, and I needed to crash, though Chris, being the workaholic we all know and love, was up to God knows when answering emails and phone calls.
The following morning, we resuscitated ourselves with coffee, and went to see the city council. They were very receptive to the ideas of starting a network in the area, except that the Wodonga people noted that it was a little unfair that Albury always got first billing when the two cities’ names were spliced together, so as a compromise, we suggested naming it after the local footy team that encompassed both towns. Thus was born “I CAN Ovens and Murray”. The groundwork was laid, and over the following year we’ll be working with members of both towns to develop this new branch.
Next we stopped by St Augustine’s, a Primary School in the area, where we talked to some of the kids about how to identify and prevent bullying. The school itself was a wonderful learning environment, where the kids were allowed to sit on the floor or move around while working instead of staying at their desks, (I wish this had been allowed when I was in Primary School!) though the building itself was like a labyrinth, and I was amazed that people could find their way around so easily. I was only there for an hour and I still managed to get lost once.
Finally, it was time to head home. This time, it was daylight for much of our trip, so we got to drink in the scenery, which around Albury-Wodonga is a lot like the land of Rohan from The Lord of the Rings. If an army of cavalry had appeared, it wouldn’t have looked out of place.
By the time we arrived back in Melbourne, we were exhausted, but very pleased by how well it had all gone. We feel we planted the seeds of something very special, and we look forward to seeing where things go from here.