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,
* 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.