HOEDOWNS For Country Towns is the brainchild of line dancing friends Kate Strong and Claire Harris, who came up with the idea to bootscoot around Australia the very first time they met.
It was mid-2018 and Claire was attending one of her first-ever line dancing classes at the Aberfeldy Farm and Barn in Toowoomba, Qld.
"Kate had been attending on and off for about a year as her uni permitted, and I was a few months in when we both happened to be there on the same day," she said.
"We kind of gravitated towards each other, being younger females in the group, and on that day we said 'one day we are going to line dance around Australia'," she said.
But the idea was put on the backburner while Claire moved to Adelaide to work for Stock Journal and Kate finished studying before becoming an agricultural consultant.
"Recently it came up again, and we started thinking if we don't do it now in our mid-20s then we never will," Claire said.
"So we started turning that dream into a reality."
Their Hoedowns For Country Towns fundraiser will see the pair travel to every state in Australia, attending events, festivals, pubs and other iconic Australian destinations and teaching people how to line dance, while raising money for rural-related charities.
They expect the 20,000-kilometre trip to take 10 months, starting in Qld at their old stomping ground - the Aberfeldy Farm and Barn - for a launch party on March 5, which aims to raise money for the trip and Qld charity of choice Aussie Helpers.
A different charity will be supported in each state, including Sober in the Country, Cottages 4 Country Care, Variety, Blue Tree Project, Stephanie Alexander Kitchen Garden Foundation and Rural Alive and Well (RAW).
"They're all a little bit different, but all have a rural focus," Claire said.
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The girls finish up their Qld leg at the Birdsville Races on April 10-11, before dipping into SA briefly to attend the Yunta Easter Tennis Tournament and the Curdimurka Outback Ball at Clayton Station near Maree at the end of April.
They then head straight up the middle of Australia through the NT, before winding down and around WA, and making it back into SA for the month of September.
They also plan to tackle the eastern states and Tas before arriving home to Qld by Christmas.
Claire said while the pandemic has been of concern to their travel plans, they also saw it as the best time for such an undertaking.
"Now more than ever, society needs a reason to smile, and we hope teaching dancing to people can put smiles on the dials of many, right across the country," she said.
Kate said line dancing was so much fun, with no expectations.
"It's literally about getting in and having fun," she said.
"It really helps you to not take yourself so seriously, plus the community are so supportive."
Get ready to kick those heels up to boot-scoot the nights away.- CLAIRE HARRIS
Claire said that has been the most heartwarming aspect of organising such a mammoth task - the support and generosity they have received from people across the country.
"From people sharing our details, to places wanting to donate their accommodation - it has been amazing," she said.
"People have been reaching out from across Australia saying 'please come to our event or town' - it gives us the confidence that we are doing the right thing, something that communities want, so that's been encouraging and helps drive us.
"Hopefully people are just as generous when it comes to supporting our charities.
"We are excited to get on the road and get started."
With both their jobs having required frequent rural travel, and with country connections all across Australia, Kate said the pair were all too aware of the importance of bringing rural communities together through 'not to be missed' events.
"We want to spread the love of dancing, bring communities together, and of course raise money and support for charities that help keep those communities going," she said.
"It is both exciting and terrifying at the same time, so we encourage everyone to get along and help us support these worthy causes."
Claire, who finished up at Stock Journal in mid-February, said she hoped to see "lots of farmers on dance floors when we head back through SA later this year".
"I feel so privileged to have met so many fantastic people during the three years I was at Stock Journal - it's been a blast," she said.
"So get ready to kick those heels up to boot-scoot the nights away when we get back in September!
"It's relaxed and fun, so having two left feet is no excuse."
Follow the girls' travels on social media @hoedownscountrytowns
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