Denise Bunnett: my year of volunteering in Bermagui

My Triangle 2018.05

First things first: How did you end up in Bermagui?

Rob and I came from Wollongong to Bermagui. We’d been in Wollongong where we had family including Rob’s elderly mum and our two adult children who’d settled there. After Rob’s mum passed away, we started to think about finding a place to retire to ourselves. Wollongong had started to become a little like a suburb of Sydney so we were after someplace a little less built up. We set off in our van with Toohey our cattle dog for a good look at the coast, with a view to finding someplace nice to live. We had been up and down the coast road many times before between Sydney and Melbourne, but this time, with Toohey in tow, we were on the lookout for caravan parks that took dogs. So we took the turnoff for Bermagui, as we had booked a site in Bermagui that took dogs as well as people. We just felt this was the place for us. We ended up moving here pretty fast after we bought here and have been here now full time for two years.

Why did you decide to volunteer?

I’d settled in and decided that I had some time up my sleeve and I also like to talk to people. I figured volunteering would be rewarding for me as well as the people I assisted. I thought it would be a great way to find out more about Bermagui too.

Where did you volunteer?

The first place I started looking was at the Information Centre. They keep a list of places looking for volunteers. I also started to do some shifts at the Information Centre. I volunteered at the Library and did some work with the Home Library program which involves taking books out to people in the community who aren’t mobile. These were both quite regular, scheduled volunteer times. Then I had a family member needing some help and I had to go away for longer than expected. When I returned home to Bermagui, the Sculpture Bermagui and the Four Winds Festival were coming up so I volunteered for those two events.

What did you do as a volunteer?

There was such a variety of things I could do. Once I got going with the various groups I was happy to take on anything really. I did car park attendant, ticketing, ferrying artists about town and to and from the venues as well as liaising with the people booking onto the free buses on offer between Bermagui and the Four Winds venue. I’ve hung up lights for the night sessions and I got to listen to some great music and meet really interesting people I wouldn’t have met otherwise.

Any advice to anyone thinking about volunteering?

Absolutely have a go and you will find it a very worthwhile as well as a fun thing to do in your community. I plan on volunteering again. Next year I hope to do the Cobargo Folk Festival. I’ve heard it’s great fun too.

Ann Maree Menager