Pollie Pedal 2014 – Day 5, Coonabarabran
Day four of Pollie Pedal is a 137 km ride from Gunnedah to Coonabaraban.
We roll out of the prosperous New England town at 8 am on a cold morning.
Forty kilometres down the road, the peloton stops at the small Mullaley Public School, where the pupils and teachers have excitedly assembled to greet us.
I learn that this is the home village of John Anderson, the former Deputy Prime Minister, whose farming property is nearby.
It reminds me that many of our national leaders over the years were born and raised in rural Australia.
Robert Menzies grew-up Jeparit, a small town in northern Victoria. Bob Hawke was raised in Bordertown. Ben Chifley lived in Bathurst.
The next leg of our journey is a tough slog into a headwind across the open Liverpool Plains. Our destination is Tambar Springs, area population 220.
Resting at the local park, I note that the local cenotaph was the first built in Australia in memory of the casualties of World War 1.
Reading the long list of names in the white marble, it is understandable why the locals decided to build the impressive monument in this small rural town. Amongst the dozens of names, there are many from the same family – probably brothers who sailed to Europe together, never to return.
As we approach the centenary of ANZAC, it is a stark reminder of the toll that the Great War took on our young nation.
There are cenotaphs like this in every town and city across Australia, each recording the names of those who gave their lives in service of their country.
Coonabarabran is a welcome sight after the final 60 kilometre leg for the day. A civic reception hosted by the mayor is followed by a visit to the local Men’s Shed with Mark Coulton and David Gillespie.
The town is a destination for many amateur astronomists each year who peer thorough telescopes in the Warrumbungle Ranges at the southern skies.
We have reached the half way point of Pollie Pedal, with four days and a little more than 500 kilometres behind us. Today’s ride has probably been the toughest so far.
Thursday is a 160 kilometre journey to Dubbo via Binnaway and Mendooran.