What would you do if you won a bus?
What do you mean, you own a bus?
When I received the phone call from Young’s Bus Service in Rockhampton that I had won the bus in their community bus recycle program, my life certainly changed forever.
In 2003, whilst in a business planning course, we were asked to sketch a vision for our business.
Back then, I drew a 4WD trailer, kitted out with a satellite, a few computers, and a guy sporting a backpack with a video camera, laptop and sleeping bag (spoiler alert: it was me).
2003 me envisioned a mobile set up that could travel around regional, rural and remote Australia, bringing technology to these communities who didn’t have access to it, and empowering them with digital skills to increase their confidence in a world that was quickly becoming more digital every day.
I couldn’t believe that the vision I had drawn all those years ago was becoming a reality, but on a MUCH larger scale… They say to dream bigger, and if that dream doesn’t scare you, it isn’t big enough.
I remember the day I picked up the bus like it was yesterday. I took my dad with me, as I didn’t have my license to drive it yet and I’d also never driven a bus before. I was overcome with a mixture of fear and excitement… this was really happening!
Over the following 6 weeks, I rounded up an amazing group of volunteers, family, friends and businesses, who took this 14m passenger coach and transformed it into a high-tech classroom on wheels.
We removed most of the seats, levelled the floor, installed desks that could be folded up or down depending on the classroom set up. We wired up power points inside the space, installed a satellite on the roof, and added a bedroom at the back.
Before I knew it, we were ready to hit the road.
We launched Rocky at Broadband for the Bush on the 9th of June, 2016, decked out with computers, internet access, and a coffee machine.
At the start of this journey, I pursued my passion for teaching by running group workshops, DIY labs, and virtual and augmented reality experiences. A session on board the Think Digital Coach held between 12 and 20 people, and lasted between 1 and 3 hours.
Over the years, Rocky has evolved into a travelling virtual and augmented reality experience, teaching kids where their food comes from, taking them behind the scenes to farms across Australia. We also run introduction to VR and AR workshops for students, and teacher professional development sessions on immersive technologies.
We set off on 2 x 3 month tours across Australia where Rocky was transformed into the Paddock to Plate coach. We brought over 100,000 people on board and immersed them into the paddock to plate journeys of Australian beef and lamb. I’ll never forget the excitement on the faces of kids in rural towns seeing the bus arrive at their school, and comments such as “we saw you last night at the caravan park!”.
Since then, we’ve been blessed with support from Woolworths, who have continued to work with us over the last 3 years and all throughout COVID, creating a showcase 360° video every year and sending us off to agricultural shows around the country.