Rugby to the rescue in flood-hit Tumbulgum
With cars flipped upside down, household items piled in the streets and mud as far as the eye could see, it was a distressing sight that confronted the Bull Sharks rugby club at Tumbulgum.
The club had brought two busloads of players 40 minutes south to the small town on the banks of the Tweed River after devastating floods swept Queensland and NSW earlier this year.
“It was almost like a time warp coming out of the Gold Coast and driving into Tumbulgum,” says Bond University Director of Rugby Mr Luca Liussi.
“You go over a little bridge, turn right and straight away there is mud everywhere. Everyone’s belongings are piled on the street. Kids’ toys, furniture, books … it’s a big reality when you see five-year-old kids sweeping mud out of their homes. It was devastating.”
The Bull Sharks spent the day clearing furniture and belongings, salvaging as much as they could for the locals. There wasn’t a lot left. “People had so much to do. They were exhausted, they had been cleaning their homes for a week.
They were really grateful,” Mr Liussi says. “It wasn’t about us, it’s all about getting stuck in and helping. You are carrying heavy stuff out of people’s homes. There is so much mud you are sliding around, but everyone got in and helped each other. These communities are our neighbours, they are just over the border, and it’s the least we could do.”
Mr Liussi borrowed a mini loader from club sponsor Kennards Hire to help with the clean-up. “We started sending people into homes and there were elderly people who couldn’t do anything. But there was an amazing community feel.
So many people turned up to help. People were showing up with food, trays of water, people came with pizzas. Blokes turned up with a ute full of beers and were handing them out. Everybody was helping in different ways.”
Among the clean-up crew was Ms Zoe Hanna, the 2022 John Eales Rugby Scholarship student. “It was very confronting, my heart breaks for the families for what they are going through, it was ridiculous the amount of damage.
We were all covered in mud and tired, it didn’t matter. It was the least we could do to offer a bit of help. Bond University as a club is awesome at helping friends and family and community. I was proud of the rugby club and seeing how many people volunteered to help.”