Pollie Pedal 2014 – Day 4, Gunnedah
As the Pollie Pedal peleton rolls across the undulating plains between Tamworth and Gunnedah, I am reminded of Dorothea McKeller’s famous lines:
I love a sunburnt country,
A land of sweeping plains,
Of ragged mountain ranges,
Of droughts and flooding rains.
It is an appropriate place to recall McKeller’s ode to the iconic Australian landscape which generations of school children have learnt to recite.
For it was here, in central New South Wales that the young Dorothea was born and raised on a farm near Gunnedah.
The famous lines were written while Dorothea was living in England, homesick for her far flung country.
Our route takes us past the area where Dorothea spent her childhood years.
It is notable that when the poem was written, the horse and buggy and the bicycle were the most popular forms of transport. The bicycle was the first opportunity for many people to travel long distances, often on rough tracks through Australia’s bush.
Our first stop for the day is at Werris Creek, a famous old railway town.
Seventy kilometres later, we roll into Gunnedah, where the major sponsor of this year’s ride, Australia Post are hosting an Aussie Rules skills session at a local park.
After the community welcome, Mitch Fifield, David Gillespie and I join Barnaby Joyce for a visit to the local aged care home.
I recall that I last visited the service when I was the Minister for Ageing in 2002.
It is an interesting hour or so, talking to staff and residents, and hearing about future plans from the CEO and board members. Visits like this help to inform us about the needs of local communities in developing appropriate responses for an ageing population.
Today’s ride was another great journey through the New South Wales countryside from Gunnedah to Coonabarabran, via Mullaley and Tambar Springs with plenty of opportunities to catch up with local residents.