Local solutions

Barrelling towards a solid education

This photo captures Indigenous school students enjoying a fun ride to school at Punmu in the Pilbara in Western Australia. They are in 44 gallon drums being towed along a red dirt road.

Indigenous school students enjoy a fun ride to school at Punmu in the Pilbara in Western Australia.


The tiny community of Punmu in the Pilbara has come up with a unique way of getting kids to school and encouraging them to stay the whole day.

Punmu Corporation Coordinator, John Reudavey, came up with the idea while attending a fair in Perth.

“I saw a ride-on lawn mower towing a train of cut-down drums giving kids laps around the football oval. I thought the idea could work back at home to get the kids to school,” John says.

“I contacted a community friend, King Island-based Donald Graham, and told him about my idea. Donald said he could come up with a larger scale design that would work,” John says.

Donald, a retired cattle farmer, and his brother-in-law Peter Doery sourced the materials needed and drove more than 5,100 kilometres from Melbourne to Punmu to design, and with the help of community members, build the train.

The train is made up of 12 carriages towed by a tractor. The drums are Avgas and Jet A1 fuel drums that are doubled side by side to add stability.

“The kids in some cases weren’t arriving at school until lunchtime – if at all – and sometimes leaving before the end of the day,” John says.

 “We do a couple of runs each morning to ensure that we have the kids at school ready for breakfast, and then we do the return runs home at the end of the school day.”

The barrel train has boosted the enthusiasm of the students to arrive at school on time and stay the entire day.

“From the start we made it clear that the only way that they would be allowed to get a ride home on the barrel train was to stay at school for the entire day. The results have been extremely positive,” John says.

“I may have come up with the idea, but this is a project the whole community has supported and been involved with. It has been a case of the community working together to ensure that the kids receive the encouragement and support to gain a good education.

“We want the kids to have a brighter future.”

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