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:
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.