GORVIC volunteer retires after a decade of welcoming visitors to Apollo Bay
August 18, 2015
It was a case of 'not goodbye but see you later' when Great Ocean Road Visitor Information Centre volunteer Ria Oude-Meilink retired after more than a decade of welcoming visitors to Apollo Bay.
Upon announcing her move to Melbourne to be closer to family, Ria made a commitment that she'd be available for shifts at GORVIC when she returned to Apollo Bay to visit friends.
GORVIC Coordinator Katy Biddle said Ria's willingness to volunteer on her holidays typified the energy and passion that she brought to her role as a welcomer.
"Ria had an incredibly active and busy life, volunteering at GORVIC as well as the Apollo Bay op shop, all while maintaining a large property on the Wild Dog Road and travelling to Melbourne once a week to give dancing lessons," Mrs Biddle said.
"We were very lucky that she gave her time to GORVIC. She has a genuine passion for Apollo Bay and the Otways as well as a strong knowledge of the local area."
Ria and her husband moved to Apollo Bay in the mid 1990s. While out on a walk in 1995 Ria saw a notice in a window calling for visitor information centre volunteers, and she started the following week. A year later, her husband Gerry also started volunteering as a welcomer.
Ria said that during her time as a volunteer she saw a rapid growth in tourism along the Great Ocean Road.
"I love volunteering at the information centre, it gives me so much pleasure to help people and I meet so many overseas people as well as Australians," she said.
"A few times a year, we head out on familiarisation tours which are always fun. I have done four different sections of the Great Ocean Walk.
"I'd love to continue but am moving to Melbourne to be closer to my family. I will really miss my volunteer work in Apollo Bay. "
Mrs Biddle said the GORVIC team would miss Ria, and thanked her for sharing her time, knowledge and enthusiasm with visitors to Apollo Bay. She said GORVIC was always looking for more volunteer welcomers.
"The role of our welcomers is to provide advice to visitors about where to go and what to see. You don't need to handle money or answer phones, it's just about helping the people who visit our centre looking for advice," she said.
"The best thing is, you can volunteer at any age."
People interested in becoming a volunteer can contact Mrs Biddle at GORVIC on (03) 5232 9503.