Last month a convoy of seven buses and three hundred and fifty city slickers departed the Gold Coast and Brisbane heading to the Southern Downs region with full wallets ready for a good time and some Christmas Shopping.
The first inaugural Merry Muster takes city folk and their dollars that would otherwise be spent in the ‘big smoke’ and supporting smaller, regional ‘bush businesses’ doing it tough.
Merry Muster founder Kristin Bonner said she was inspired to start the initiative to help those regional businesses affected by the recent disasters and the pandemic.
“Coming from the country, I so felt helpless at how cruel the drought especially has been and the toll it continues to take on regional communities,” she said.
“Simply crying at images on the TV was not going to help, so I came up with a simple idea…why don’t we take our Christmas shopping dollars and spend them out in an area that desperately needs some love, instead of here in the city. And so The Merry Muster was born.”
Guests spent their time spreading some festive cheer to the communities of Warwick and Stanthorpe who have been hit hard in recent times with drought, bushfires, border closures.
Organisers had also organised local markets in both towns to provide a platform for the community to sell their wares and other businesses in the main street.
Guests arrived with empty baskets, eskies and backpacks to load up on fresh produce, gifts, wine and even some prime meat and heading back to the city with baskets overflowing.
Spending a little over $114,000 to the local economy each guest on average spent $350 during their single day trip.
But the community support didn’t stop there with the group also distributing over 35 cubic square meters of donated goods and $7000 in cash to local charities.
Those who missed the bus but still want to show their support can do so by donating directly to the Granite Belt Water Relief Fund, Sharing the Dignity, or simply shopping in the area.