SINCE 2011, volunteers have made sure locals and visitors enjoy the Portarlington Mussel Festival through a free bus service.
Portarlington Mussel Festival President Richard Underwood said buses picked up visitors and festival volunteers from Portarlington, Indented Head and the Portarlington Recreation Reserve and returned them back.
“Bus volunteers fill an essential role,” Mr Underwood said.
“They drive buses, help passengers, assist musicians, support elderly or people with a disability who are being dropped off at Parks Hall.”
Mr Underwood said there had never been any negative feedback about the free bus.
“Some visitors who use the free bus each festival remember their driver and say ‘G’day’ and ‘How’s your year been?’ when they are picked up from home,” he laughed.
Mr Underwood said saying thanks was important and recently acknowledged four free bus volunteers with a mug to use every day, so that they would be reminded that they were valued.
Volunteer Pam Scott has “wonky knees” and can’t walk around the festival.
Before volunteering in 2011, Pam could only listen to all the festival news when her family came home.
By driving, Pam could contribute her experiences to the dinner table family chat.
She has handed in her bus keys but still volunteers to take phone calls for bus pick-ups.
Volunteer David Bond is probably the only person in Portarlington who’s never been to the festival.
David started driving in 2011 and since 2013 has driven the Portarlington Golf Club bus for as many hours as the bus is needed.
David always has a cheery smile and a special thanks to the golf club for donating their bus and best driver.
Jacquie Wissenden has for years volunteered for the free bus and in many other festival roles. Jacquie is one of those wonderful volunteers who says “what do you want me to do and I’ll do it”.
Jacquie is often the first person a visitor meets\ when they arrive on a bus and is a happy and helpful face of the festival.
Liam Liddicoat is volunteering for the first time. Liam said he and his family recently moved in to their new home and met their neighbours who gave them fresh vegies from their garden.
After the welcome the first question was: do you drive a bus?
The Portarlington Mussel Festival will be held on January 12.
If you’re in Portarlington or Indented Head, phone 0400 963 566 for a bus to pick you up. Volunteers adhere to VicRoads rules and cannot transport children aged seven years or younger in the bus they use for home and caravan pick-ups.
For more information, head to portmusselfestival.com.