News / Education / 11th November 2021
Books bound for the outback
Luke Mitchell is changing people’s lives one book at a time.
Luke and his partner, Robyn Guihot, travel the dusty Australian outback handing out books to residents of remote areas who otherwise would find them difficult to access - and so Books for the Outback was born.
Luke said the idea hit him when he was visiting the Coonabarabran Waste Depot and he noticed someone throwing away a mass of books.
“Straight away I thought how much of a waste it was and a couple of weeks later I came up with the idea of Books for the Outback.”
The initiative is completely run and funded by Luke and Robyn.
They rely on book donations and pay their own costs for diesel.
Both are retirees and they said they take turns paying for each tank of fuel they use on their trips to the outback.
“And we go through quite a bit,” Robyn said.
“On our last trip alone we did 3000 kilometres in a week.
“All our money goes into the tank. When we’re travelling we camp on the side of the road instead of staying in motels to save money.
“We don’t rely on charity or sponsors or anything, it all comes out of our own pockets.”
Luke said the pair have been doing their book runs for about 12 months and they are both spurred on by the reaction of many of the people they come across.
“It’s just amazing how a gesture so small can have such a big impact on people,” he said.
“As well as books, we hand out teddies or dolls to the little kids. When they see our ute coming they run up to us and you should see the looks on their faces - and the mums and dads will sit there and watch with a tear in their eyes.”
The couple has also helped boost the content of the Tibooburra Library, having donated over 1000 books.
The couple will tow one of three different trailers, depending on the load size,with their ageing single cab Nissan Patrol.
They also travel with their security guards of four, well-trained dogs.
“We travel pretty simple,” Luke said.
“We’ll keep 40 litres of diesel with us, 80 litres of water, tools and, of course, the trailer,” he explained.
“The old ute’s almost had it though, it’s clocked up over a million kilometres.
“We wouldn’t go without our dogs, they help keep us safe and when we’re camping on the ground they help to keep snakes away.”
Anyone willing to donate books to the cause can do so by dropping them off at the United or Seventh Day Adventist churches in Coonabarabran.
“I’d like to thank all the people at those churches - we wouldn’t have been able to get this thing off the ground without their support,” Luke said.
It helps that the pair have a passion for travelling and Robyn said she loves seeing parts of the country she’d never seen before and meeting and talking to the many characters in the outback.
The pairs’ next run will be to collect more books before they venture to the outback again to put more smiles on people’s faces.