Northern Roads Activity Van celebrates 40 years of service to rural families

Kylie Hill, Hannah Wallis, Jodi Uebergang and Debbie Wilson are the faces behind Northern Roads Activity Van.
Kylie Hill, Hannah Wallis, Jodi Uebergang and Debbie Wilson are the faces behind Northern Roads Activity Van.

A vital service providing education and care to remote communities is preparing to celebrate its 40th birthday.

Northern Roads Activity Van (NRAV) will be holding a birthday fete on August 25 inviting past and present families to help celebrate.

The fun-filled day will be held at Victoria Park from 11am until 1pm with loads of activities, stalls, food and fundraising opportunities.

What started as a playgroup in August 1978 has since grown to become a mobile preschool servicing remote locations around Inverell and the north west.

NRAV’s Kylie Hill said the service started as a need for families to extend their playgroups to more of a preschool to promote social interaction and education before heading to big school.

“Tingha community members felt the need for a preschool but it was unavailable and too expensive to provide. This is where the idea for a mobile preschool was born,” she said.

Throughout the forty years the service has seen a lot of change, especially as remote areas began to grow or dwindle.

“It’s a dynamic service in the sense that its always changing based on the communities’ needs.

“Sometimes areas go through cycles where there are no children, or there are a lot so we have expanded to remote areas in need of the service,” she said.

Kylie and her fellow early childhood educator Debbie Wilson have been driving the NRAV together for around 20 years.

“Debbie and I have had entire families go through the service; four siblings, kids of kids we taught and even grandkids now.”

NRAV’s Jodi Uebergang, who has been with the service for three years, described the van as a celebrate of rural communities staying strong.

“Families could have given up on the service and taken them to larger preschools but they see a need for this,” she said.

Operating out of halls and schools in remote areas, the service has, at times, been the glue that connects the community together.

“When we were at Bukkulla, they started having social nights. Sometimes it revitalizes the area; we’ve secured grants for shading and other things over the years,” Kylie said.

Help celebrate the 40th birthday of this iconic regional service by heading down to Victoria Park on August 25.

For more information about NRAV or the fete call 6722 4038.