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News > Past Student News > Bush Birds on Back Roads

Bush Birds on Back Roads

Meet Meg Grieve ('12) and Hilary Wood ('12), two St Margaret's Old Girls who decided to pack up their lives in Mount Isa and travel 35,000 km across Australia.
Bush Birds on Back Roads
Bush Birds on Back Roads

Meet Meg Grieve (‘12) and Hilary Wood (‘12), two St Margaret’s Old Girls who decided to pack up their lives in Mount Isa and travel 35,000 km across Australia. Meg, who prior to their travels worked in the emergency and coronary care departments in Mount Isa Hospital, and Hilary, a paramedic in Mount Isa, embarked on this incredible journey with a group of other medical professional friends, the “Bush Birds” as they are now termed, and spent the next seven months journeying across Australia. Documenting their travels on their Instagram account - @bushbirdsonbackroads – the two found themselves inspired to do something different with their lives and embrace the challenge of road tripping through almost all Australian states and territories.

Living out of the group’s two Hilux’s, Prado and swags, Meg and Hilary stepped back from their jobs in the health system to learn more about themselves and everything Australia has to offer, sleeping under the stars of some of the country’s most beautiful scenery. Completed with a custom-built kitchen, fridge, and Hilux canopy, their “holiday house on wheels” became their home for the next few months of their travels. Turning a dinner table conversation into action, and with their makeshift home organised, the Bush Birds’ travels commenced.

Beginning in Mount Isa, and with no strict map in place, Meg and Hilary headed South through Queensland, with visits to each other’s families first on their agenda, before heading into New South Wales, a brief trip through Victoria and the top of South Australia, into the Northern Territory, along the Western Australia coastline, back through Victoria and South Australia to home. The Northern Territory was a particular favourite among the group; touring through the Red Centre, West Macdonald Ranges and around Alice Springs were collectively some of their most memorable moments, alongside the diversity of Western Australia, from its untouched National Parks to red cliffs, then further down to their incredible coastline adorned with wildflowers and blue oceans.

Travelling through Australia in their Bush Bird group, Meg and Hilary learnt a multitude of life lessons as they experienced the vast extremes of Australia’s landscape – from the white sand of beaches of Western Australia to the red sand of outback Australia. Hilary notes the lessons of self-awareness and knowing when it is time to “do something for yourself” in life that her travels truly enhanced. For Meg, it was realising how truly little one needs in life to feel fulfilled, and how it is the simple things – the little canopy kitchen, camping chair and dining table surrounded by all their friends – that make her life meaningful. For both Old Girls, an appreciation for what Australia has to offer was borne from seeing its extreme beauty and landscape, alongside meeting new people and the lessons they learned from others.

Having been Boarder Captains in their final year of school, both girls found this experience of sleeping in swags with their friends and hiking their toiletry bags to shower cubicles very reminiscent of their boarding years. Meg found the routine calls of “good night” and “good morning” each day evoking memories of the boarding house dorms, and these memories remain strong within Meg and Hilary, even outside of their travel experiences. Their grade, the seniors of 2012, remain in close contact with each other, and Meg and Hilary find themselves amazed at how strong their connections with other Old Girls are, across all grades from their time at St Margaret’s. In Daly Waters Pub, Northern Territory, Meg and Hilary found themselves surprised to find another Maggies Old Girl a few grades younger than them, and again face to face with an old friend in Darwin one grade below them. For them, the bonds and relationships that they cultivated from their time at St Margaret’s remains an important part of their post-school journey, and as Meg says, they are constantly reminded that “all roads lead to St Margaret’s”.

Meg has now commenced a new role as an ICU nurse in Darwin, an exciting new change inspired by her newfound love of the Northern Territory. She remains passionate about working with Indigenous peoples and is excited to continue the work that she had already started in Mount Isa. Hilary remains in Mount Isa working as a paramedic, passionate about the work she does for the community she cares for. With their trip behind them, they are grateful for the experience they have had and excited to continue with the amazing work they do in their respective fields.

By Elizabeth Fowler (’19)

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