HOLIDAY HELPERS: Marilyn Smallwood with Neil and Terry Walker reach 10 years of volunteering.
HOLIDAY HELPERS: Marilyn Smallwood with Neil and Terry Walker reach 10 years of volunteering. Meg Bolton

Trio loves to show region off

YOU don't experience Australia from the highway, according to Fernvale Information Centre volunteers Marilyn Smallwood, Terry and Neil Walker.

Every shift for the past decade they encouraged tourists to explore country roads around the Somerset.

"Nowadays our lives are so very busy, especially in the cities,” Miss Smallwood said.

"I think people need to slow down and one of the ways is to get out to the country areas where life is a little bit more relaxed.”

With more than a century of local knowledge between them, they've imparted advice about local parks, galleries and picnic spots to everyone who walks through the door.

"Get off the highways and onto little country roads, that's where you see Australia's country,” Miss Smallwood said.

Every shift was like a holiday for the three volunteers, who lived vicariously through the tourists they helped.

The trio said the day they started seemed like yesterday but they now proudly wore a 10 years of service pin.

"The best thing about volunteering is meeting people - you get to meet people from Brisbane, interstate and you also get international visitors,” Mr Walker said.

What started as a way to spend their time during retirement quickly became a staple in their life, connecting them with new friends and an increased knowledge of the area.

They constantly learned from peers, tourists and company operators who showcased their holiday locations in the region.

While they customised their advice for every tourist, Mrs Walker said she regularly suggested the Brisbane Valley Rail Trail and various picnic spots around Wivenhoe Dam.

"The various day spots around the dams are always popular but it depends on the person as to what they want,” Mrs Walker said.


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