The Long Ride Home

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Day 120 of riding - Parramatta to Sydney

The finish on the 20th of November at the Sydney Opera House - 10,200 km and 120 Cycling Days after leaving the Australian Embassy on the 12th May.

The sun was out in full force as were passers by, tourists and locals strolling by or just out to enjoy the beauty of the opera house and the Sydney harbour bridge in the background.

A large crowd of friends, family, supporters, SAS Association members and media were there to cheers me on as I cycled onto the Northern side of the opera house. A live televised arrival by the Channel 9 Today show made sure that I had national coverage for the end of the very long ride.

What a finish!!!

A great ANZAC welcome organised by our New Zealand Warrior brothers.

A fantastic honour to be welcomed by a Powphrii (Warrior Welcome) and Haka organised by the New Zealand Consulate, Greg Mukutu and lead by a Maori elder (Kaumatua) Rawiri Iti.

I consider this last day a special and emotional occasion for me, one that I will never forget.

Many thanks to the Hon. Natsha McClaren Jones representative for the premier of NSW in attendance to give an amazing speech putting the icing on the cake for the final day of the long ride home.

My speech on the day:

To the Honorable Natasha Maclaren-Jones, Family, Friends, ladies and gentleman.

Firstly, I would like to thank the Hon. Natasha Maclaren-Jones, the long ride home team members, Friends & family that have taken the time and travelled long distances to be here today.

I would also like to thank our patron, Major General The Honourable Michael Jeffery AC who sadly could not be here today.

A special thanks to our friends from New Zealand for the Powhiri Welcome especially the new Zealand Consulate General, Miss Billie Moore, Greg Makutu from The Department of Internal Affairs NZ, Kaumatua (Elder) Rawiri Iti.

What a great honour to be welcomed here at the Sydney Opera house at the end of what I can describe as a very long and arduous bike ride - a bike ride that has not only taken me through 6 countries but has exposed me to many dangers and variable weather conditions that has tested my body and mind over 10,000 km.

But I have arrived!!!

Safe and sound after 120 days of cycling, with many flat tyres, a few falls off the bike, scrapes and bumps, food poisoning, and many close encounters with trucks, cars, motor bikes and front end loaders on the worst possible roads you could imagine.

I thank the primary sponsors and partners,

* Lockforce
* MG Media
* Visual Design Group
* King and Wood Mallesons
* Smooth Ass Silk
* Pure Sports Nutrition
* Crowe Financial Planning
* Warrior Racing
* Complete Business Travel, and
* Bigdog Software

There have been countless people in support of my ride through Asia and Australia that have been part of TLRH, some are here today. I thank you for your outstanding contribution.

I would particularly like to thank the Lockforce co riders who were able to motivate me through some of the most dangerous sections of the Asian leg.

WHY have I done this ride?
Three years ago I was seeing younger war veterans coming home from conflicts such as Iraq, Timor and Afghanistan, suffering from PTSD, as I did, 45 years ago from the Vietnam war.
Sadly, these veterans are not getting the recognition and early care that one would expect.

The high suicide rate amongst our Veterans is unacceptable.

As a sufferer of PTSD myself it wasn't a difficult decision to commence raising awareness therefore, I chose to start my ride from the Australian Embassy in Hanoi on the 12th of May.

Meeting my former enemy in Vietnam made the journey a healing process for me.

I am not suggesting that veterans return to places of conflict, but for me, it was important to face my demons head on in dialogue as part of my healing process.

I still have a long way to go.

As a very young man of 20 years, I experienced death and destruction that one cannot imagine, thus, leaving me with those scars of war for many decades.

I recently had the opportunity to talk to the Minister of Veteran Affairs the Honourable Dan Tehan MP on my arrival in Canberra and listened to him on live TV from Sydney soon after.

There are encouraging signs from the current government with regard to the treatment of our veterans.

I believe that not enough research has been done to conquer PTSD in its early stages, that is why I will continue on the long ride home raising awareness and raising funds for PTSD research.

I also believe, we as a community can be a world leader in PTSD research and we as a community must be part of this long ride home and have total victory over PTSD.

Finally, I would like to thank the many people who have donated and supported the long ride home.

Thank you for being here today and I do hope you continue with me on my trusty trek into the future.

In summary, I would like to thank all that have followed me on my journey and the support you have sincerely offered on the long ride home website. To all that have donated to the PTSD cause on behalf of the long ride home team we thank you for your outstanding donations. To those recent donors, thank you kindly:


* Kate Thorpe
* Danny Webb
* Peter Simpson
* Peter and Beryl Girven

Truck Sams - The Long Ride Home.

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Today Show

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10,000km

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Day 117, 118 and 119 Canberra to Parramatta via Goulburn, Bowral, Mittagong and Thirlmere

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After an eventful arrival and welcome in Canberra by the Minister for Veteran Affairs Dan Tehan, The Long Ride Home Patron Mike Jeffrey and members of the media, I managed to have a good friend Lt.Col Brett Challoner join me along the journey towards Goulburn. Brett was based in the USA in 2009 and assisted with many things during my induction into the United States Army Parachute Team (The Golden Knights) hall of fame. Great to catch up with you Brett and have a chat along the Hume Highway in between the rumble of the passing trucks.

Arrived in Goulburn to a very warm welcome by the Mayor of Goulburn Mulwaree Council on the steps of the Civic Centre for a civic reception, thank you all for attending and your kind support;

Bob Kirk - Goulburn Mulwaree Council - Mayor
Warwick Bennett - Goulburn Mulwaree Council – General Manager
Tash Woods - Goulburn Mulwaree Council – Executive Support Officer
Gordon Wade OAM - Goulburn RSL Sub-Branch President
Malcolm Richie - Goulburn RSL Sub-Branch Honorary Secretary
Angus Taylor - Federal Member for Hume
Alex Ridley - Goulburn Chamber – President
Peter Walker - Goulburn Mulwaree Council Councillor
Denzil Sturgiss - Goulburn Mulwaree Council Councillor
Judy & Philip Fowler - Goulburn Museum Volunteers and daughter.

A big thank you as well to the curators Philip and Judy Fowler of the Goulburn Rocky Hill museum for a grand tour of the museum pieces on display.

A bit of trivia - just below Rocky Hill, Mel Gibson, cast and film crew spent two weeks in a quarry to film Mel's latest epic war movie "Hacksaw Ridge", based on a true story worth seeing of front line soldiers faced with trauma on the battlefield, later seeing them with PTSD.

Onwards to Bowral (overnighting Mittagong) met by members of the Bowral RSL Sub Branch and Members of the Vietnam Veterans association. A fantastic meeting with them about issues of PTSD amongst our younger veterans before a wreath laying ceremony at the Vietnam Veterans memorial and then a stroll along the cherry tree walk dedicated to our fallen warriors of the Vietnam War.

A special mention to a special lady of Bowral - Effie Kerr, who had no connection to the Shire, the RSL or veterans who personally took it upon herself to push for the Vietnam Veteran memorial and the cherry tree memorial walk to be erected in the town's Central Park .

Well done Effie founder of the cherry tree memorial walk, for your vision and dedication to honour our fallen comrades.

Many thanks to Bowral for a great welcome on route towards the finish in Sydney:

Dave Babbage - Southern Highlands Vietnam Veterans Sub Branch
Gordon - Bowral RSL Sub Branch
Peter Girven - Bowral RSL Sub Branch Honorary Secretary
John Cummins - Bowral RSL Sub Branch President

A short hop to Mittagong to another welcome for the long ride home team - many thanks to:
Hon Sec RSL Peter Gervin
Viet Vets Assistant Phillip Moscat
Sec Mittagong Steven Spence
Junior Vice President / Welfare Officer Vietnam Veterans Association, Ray Kuschert.

Back through a few rolling hills towards Picton that let me know that the ride isn't quite over yet. A absolute fabulous welcome by the primary students of Thirlmere school on arrival with hundreds of primary school children chanting "Truck!! Truck!! Truck!!" almost had me in tears as I cycled into the RSL grounds adjacent the school. I managed to shake hands with all of the children who rushed to the fence. Thank you teachers and children of the Thirlmere primary school and those attending the welcoming ceremony/wreath laying at the RSL Thirlmere/Bargo;

Tim Bennett-Smith - Picton Thirlmere Bargo RSL Sub Branch President
Michael Banasic - Councillor Wollondilly Shire Council
Jenny Landsdowne - Thirlmere Public School
John Haines - NSW RSL State President

Arrived in Parramatta just short of the finish this Sunday at the Opera House. Today was a feeling that I was almost at the finish as I looked at Sydney off in the distance riding up to to the Parramatta mall for a civic reception / welcome in amongst the people of the city markets. I was very noticeable in my matching jerseys and shorts to the famous Parramatta Eels (Rugby Team) which drew a few eyes from passers by. Thank you to those who were all part of the welcome:

Amanda Chadwick - City of Parramatta Administrator
George Mannix - City of Parramatta (MC for the event)
Albert Gittany - City of Parramatta (on ground coordinator)
Doug Mackay - Parramatta RSL Sub Branch Vice President
Bryan West - Parramatta RSL Sub Branch Treasurer
John Haines - NSW RSL State President

It's been a long journey and now coming towards the finish of the Australian section - onwards to the Sydney Opera House this Sunday where I will hold my head high and salute all those who have supported PTSD awareness and donated to the long ride home cause.

Finally thank you to the latest donors:

Sheila Burnell
Mark Reed
Ian Appelby
Sally Phillips
Ricky Henry
Philip Fowler
Judy Fowler
Bowral RSL Sub Branch
Picton Thirlmere Bargo RSL Sub Branch & Thirlmere Public School

Warmest regards to you all.
Truck heading to the Sydney Opera House after 10,200 Kms and 120 cycling days.

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Trucking Home

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From the jungles of Vietnam
To the skies above our land
He excelled at all that he could do
A career par excellence
With a family that he adores
Still carrying the stress of war with many more
So to meet the enemies of past
Befriend embrace and have a laugh
Friendship to a world that can be sour
It began in sweet Hanoi
In humidity and well known soil
Synthetic leg and a bike to Singapore
To Perth to hit the road
Canberra Sydney the journey goes
Through sunshine, winds and rain he rides
With flag and trusty bike
And supporters and trekkers alike
Spurring him across our Nullarbor
Across our wide brown land
Through droughts and flooding rains
He's bringing the lands together a little more
So when the journey's done
Help for veterans and from friends
Truck will have travelled A Long Ride Home.

Author: Noel Rath
3rd October 2016

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Sydney Opera House

Hi everyone, please come and visit me at the Sydney Opera House at 8.45AM on Sunday 20th of November to see the finish of my 10,000km Long Ride Home.

(Due to unforeseen circumstances the Red Berets will not be appearing.)


Lunch at the Glenmore Hotel, at the Rocks from 12.00 noon.

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116 DAYS OF CYCLING

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Photos: Mark Graham

ON TARGET INTO CANBERRA FOR 11TH NOVEMBER 2016 REMEMBRANCE DAY CEREMONY AND WELCOME BY THE GOVERNOR-GENERAL OF THE COMMONWEALTH OF AUSTRALIA GENERAL THE HONOURABLE SIR PETER COSGROVE AK MC (RET’D) AND LADY COSGROVE.
 
Arrived in Canberra on the best weather day since the beginning of The Long Ride Home. Federal Police were on hand to escort me from Old Parliament House to New Parliament House to be met by Veterans Affairs Minister Dan Tehan, and our ride Patron, former Governor-General and CO of SASR Major General Mike Jeffrey AC, CVO, MC (Ret’d), and other interested dignitaries including ex-Defence Minister Kevin Andrews and MP Angus Campbell, a Rhodes Scholar and keen cyclist himself. Also to hand were camera crews and journalists from the Canberra Press Gallery seeking an update on the ride from kick-off at the Australian Embassy in Hanoi on 12th May through to this key stopover point before the run into Sydney.
 
Interview highlights included new government initiatives relating to war veterans and early prevention and care for PTSD sufferers from Minister Tehan and a very strong response by General Jeffery.
 
Day 2 in Canberra saw us at a very impressive Remembrance Day service at the Australian War Memorial, where former Victorian Premier and founding Beyondblue Chairman Jeffrey Kennett AC, a one-time Army officer himself, called for war on veteran suicide in a very strong Remembrance Day Address before the Governor-General Sir Peter Cosgrove AK MC (Ret’d), Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull and a large turnout of military and diplomatic representatives, school children and members of the general public. I urge you to ponder Mr Kennett’s message at www.awm.gov.au/talks-speeches/remembrance-day-address-2016
 
Rounding off a truly memorable day for me and my children in from New Zealand was a Remembrance Day afternoon tea put on especially for The Long Ride Home by the Governor-General at Government House, where a large group of team members, friends and senior VIPs including two former CDFs - Admiral Chris Barrie AC, FAICD, FAIM, FARPI, RAN (Ret’d) and Air Chief Marshal Sir Angus Houston AK, AFC (Ret'd) – turned out to hear entertaining and heartfelt speeches by Sir Peter and Mike Jeffery about the ride and our cause.
 
No one was left wondering about the deep concern these men have for the twin issues of veteran suicide and trauma-related mental injury and I was left in no doubt that the pain of cycling the 10,000km over the past six months was worth every stroke of the pedal. As I said at Government House, I will continue on until there is total victory over PTSD.
 
On behalf of our Long Ride Home Patron and The Long Ride Home team thank you to all concerned for the success of the ride’s visit to our National Capital.
 
Truck on the long ride home.
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Day 111 to 115 of riding - Wodonga to Canberra via Holbrook, Wagga Wagga, Gundagai and Yass

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The final run to Canberra.

Departing Albury/Wodonga across the border into New South Wales and highway running for most of the way here to Canberra.

The civic receptions, by Shire CEO, Mayors, councillors, RSL senior officials, RSL sub branches, RSL members, Veterans, current serving military members, Lions, rotary clubs and freemasons on-route have been absolutely fantastic. In all the towns, I can only say that the long ride home team have had nothing but the best in terms of outstanding welcomes in each town, fantastic support along with many donations from individuals and organizations on route across Australia from Perth.

Our thanks goes out to many people, in particular those since crossing the border:

Ex Navy members and curators of the HMAS Otway Submarine museum Holbrook - David Hocking and Roger Cooper for their grand tour of the museum. Extraordinary visuals whilst riding into the small town of Holbrook when seeing the enormous shell of the HMAS Otway resurrected and on display in the Holbrook Central Park. The submarine museum sits in one corner of the park for visitors to walk inside and actually enter into the original chamber control rooms of the submarine. One can almost get the real feeling of how a submariner lived in confined space onboard the Otway. A view through the periscope will give you a view of Holbrook in the distance rather than across the seas. Admiral Holbrook VC was one of the most famous submarine captains of the Otway and the curators of the museum have done their homework to make sure he features in the museum as one of Australia's most famous naval heroes.

After a nights rest in Holbrook, it was onwards meandering through sheep and cattle country to Wagga Wagga. On approaching Wagga Wagga township I felt like I was in familiar territory and had flashbacks of Recruit training here when I was a very young 17 year old army recruit a half century ago.

Many thoughts jumped into my mind as I cycled along - days of going through the green machine production line, days of marching on the parade ground, learning how to strip and assemble the self loading rifle (SLR 7.62 mm) long nights of spit and shining boots and shoes, cleaning ablutions and dish washing duties, hard core physical fitness regimes, the final long route marches to see if you had the guts and determination to be a soldier, and the final march out parade. Little did I know that one day I'd be pushing the trusty trek back through the same region 50 years on after already riding very close to 10,000 km from Vietnam where I would be put to the final test and fighting a war against a formidable foe.

We arrived in Wagga Wagga to be accommodated and looked after by the RSL at their motel premises which was organised by one our younger war veterans from Afghanistan - former 2 commando regiment soldier, Jason Frost (Frosty) who is actively involved in the local Wagga Wagga RSL Sub Branch.

I'm told Frosty is doing some marvellous mediation work with younger veterans suffering from PTSD and also assisting them to transition into civilian life. Great to see Frosty, well done!!!

Also a big thanks to Kevin Kerr (RSL Sub Branch President) and Ken May for their great work in the region and for facilitating care and support for the long ride home team during our time in Wagga Wagga. Joined by four cyclist RAAF Lieutenants - Jon Mason and Brendan Lickerman, and Army Trainees Tippers and Baumann, I was escorted through Wagga Wagga Main Street to the memorial park in town to be met by a welcoming group of veterans (and families) from conflicts - Vietnam, Timor and Afghanistan and local WIN TV and news. This was one of the highlights of the journey to date. Thank you all in Wagga Wagga for your outstanding support and warm friendship from the long ride home team.

It was back on the highway the next morning onwards and certainly upwards over lots of rolling hills towards Gundagai and Yass. A huge welcome and sausage sizzler in the memorial park of Gundagai to be officially greeted by the Shire Council representative Penny Nicholson and other Gundagai officials.

A big thank you for the kind donations by the shire council and the RSL ladies auxiliary, represented by Sheila Murray, who donated a very notable amount to the long ride home. The Gundagai RSL ladies auxiliary have in the past donated quite a substantial amount of funds to RSL Defence care, therefore, another large amount donated to the long ride home is worthy of a big mention.

Also a big thank you in order for your outstanding support and assistance towards the long ride home cause:

* Jim Sharman (Gundagai RSL Sun branch President)
* Keith Wood (Gundagai RSL Sub branch secretary)
* All the ladies from the RSL Ladies Auxiliary)
* The Lions club of Gundagai

I crossed paths in downtown Gundagai with a group of cyclist riding from Canberra to Melbourne raising funds for a similar cause as the long ride home - funds for the Chamberlain Foundation which supports first responders suffering from PTSD. Well done guys!!! Great to meet you on-route and many thanks for your cycling jersey gift. Safe travelling!!

Arrived in Yass to be met by a group of military enthusiasts, Max and John Hedges, Mark Ashby and Det. Voges who were out in full force ready for an escort into town with me riding behind some rather nice antique military vehicles. Thank you for the safe escort into the heart of Yass to be officially welcomed by Yass Valley Council officials:

* Rowena Abbey Mayor
* Kim Turner Deputy Mayor
* Councillors Allison Harker, Mark Reid, Geoff Frost
* Neil Turner Yass RSL Sub Branch President
* John Watt RSL Sub Branch Treasurer
* Richard Wilson
* Jan Wilson (Yass Community Radio)

A great opportunity to finally thank those individuals, groups and organizations who have kindly donated to the long ride home cause in recent days:

* Jan Wilson
* June Doyle
* Yass IT
* Andrea Arrogan 
* Steve Scarlett
* Gordon Elphick
* Jane Dean
* Gundagai Shire Council
* Gundagai RSL Ladies Auxiliary
* Cathy Southwell
* Bill Hindson
* Raymond James
* Jim Wallace
* Michael Fisher
* Carolyn Mallam

A well earned rest on arrival Canberra taking in the Remembrance Day service at the Australian War Memorial. A couple of days off in Canberra until the 14th November before moving onto Sydney. A special report next in my next blog update reporting on the welcome to Canberra.

Warmest regards to you all.
Truck Sams on the long ride home in the Australian Capital Territory (ACT)

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110 days of riding - Wangaratta to Wodonga/Albury

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Another sunny day for riding all the way to Wodonga and a police escort to get me safe into the city of Wodonga for a civic reception to be met by:

*CEO Patience Harrington,
*Kim Strang Team Leader,
*David Thurlay Councillor Arts & Craft,
*Murray Border Vietnam Veterans,
*Gary Treeve & Rob Patterson,
*Graham Docksey OAM President AY RSL Sub Branch
*WIN News

A bit of physio on my knee, the good leg, was needed whilst in Wodonga. Thank you to Rob Patterson who made sure that I would be in the hands of a good physiotherapist and later on for escorting me to the Seamen, Sailors & Airmen's Club (SS&A). Thank you to the committee and staff at the SS&A club facilities for a great welcome, luncheon and gift presentation;

*Col Darts Director,
*Michael Chapman VP,
*Murray Ashcroft Director, and
*Phillip Kelly General Manager

A special note that the long ride home has had great response from the media throughout the whole journey. Without the media coverage of awareness of PTSD to the wider community would lost. Bill Gray (TLRH media liaison officer) has been continuously on the job and in touch with media outlets here and abroad since I left Hanoi. Thank you Bill for your outstanding contribution towards the long ride home cause. Thank you to all media outlets for your coverage of the long ride home and it's awareness of PTSD amongst our young veterans and the wider community of this terrible disease that has struck so many in a very short time.

Finally a big thank you to Michelle for going out of her way and to present me with a gift of a nice bottle of King Valley Reisling and a cycling water bottle that promotes her latest campaign for road safe cycling. Thank you Michelle!!!

Albury–Wodonga is the broad settlement incorporating the twin Australian cities of Alburyand Wodonga, which are separated geographically by the Murray River and politically by a state border: Albury on the north of the river is part of New South Wales while Wodonga on the south bank is in Victoria.

Although in many senses the centre operates as one community, it has parallel municipal governments and state government services. However, the fact that Melbourne is significantly closer than Sydney and the fact that Victorian television broadcasts in the region, resulting (among other things) in the predominance of Australian rules football in the local media outlets, gives Albury close cultural and social links to Victoria, despite its location in southern New South Wales.

Truck Sams on the long ride home Victoria ( Safe Cycling )

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Thanks Deane

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