A GROUP of forty-two ladies, gents and friends from Probus Clubs in Stawell, boarded a bus for a mystery tour earlier this month.
Representing the Stawell Ladies Probus, Stawell Men's Probus, Stawell Gold Reef Ladies Probus and Ararat Ladies Probus Clubs, the group travelled to the Grampians Gate Caravan Park where they met up with Barry and his son Barry junior, who are travelling around Australia in their open topped Country Fire Authority utility.
The next stop was the Stawell Park Caravan Park and Residential Village next to the Grange Golf Course. The bus then took members along the back track past Stawell Gold Mines and up to the Big Hill monument. The group was surprised to see Santa standing in the monument, but pleased that he accepted an invitation to join the group on the bus. With his guitar, Santa sang a favourite Christmas song.
The bus made its way down Main Street, with Santa leading the group playing his guitar and singing Jingle Bells. This continued through the back streets towards the Trackside Bar and Bistro, which was decorated with Christmas lights and pom poms.
In what was a pleasant surprise for everyone, tour organiser Judy Belot handed all those in attendance an envelope containing $20. This had been previously planned, with participants paying $40 each for the tour. Organisers knew that if the charge was only $20, participants would think they were not travelling very far on the mystery tour.
Singing and guitar playing by Mason Chamberlin (Santa) was enjoyed by all in attendance before it was time to hand out gifts.
Stickers with the names of guests were placed under everyone's seat. Each member had to find the person matching the name on the sticker and present them with their gift.
The gifts brought much laughter, as they included books from the free box at the Bookworm Gallery, a penny, a half penny and much more.
Following lunch, 15 year old Will Phillips spoke about and showed a presentation on the dogs he draws as sheep dogs.
Will has written two books, the first when he was 13 about fishing and the second about training sheep dogs.
The afternoon concluded and it was back on the Sandlant's bus bound for the Albion Carpark to bring an end to an enjoyable outing for all involved.