Pollie Pedal 2014 – Day 6, Dubbo

This is the longest leg of Pollie Pedal, a 160 kilometre stage from Coonabarabran to Dubbo.

Riding across expansive tracts of Australia is a reminder that there is a vast difference between the ways of life in rural and city regions. The workers on their agricultural machinery, the farmers herding cattle along the roadside in search of available grass is a world away from the pace of life and the interests of city-folk.

A journey like this reminds me of the differences. Having grown up in rural Victoria, I am aware of them, but this week confirms the reality.

At Binnaway, our first stop for the day, a local farmer, who rides with us from Coonabarabran, discusses the opportunities for country kids, and the need to maintain support for them.

There is frost on the ground in Coonabarabran as we depart our overnight accommodation for the town hall, where the Mayor bids us goodbye and safe riding. After a tough stage yesterday, and a long day ahead in the saddle, the peloton is keen to adopt a steadier pace.

The ride to Binnaway is relaxed and pleasant before we push on to Mendooran, where we stop at the local school.

It is possibly the best reception that the 50 Pollie Pedal cyclists have received, riding into a tunnel of cheering school children as we entered the grounds, high-fiving our way along the throng of welcoming faces.

Riding into Mendooran to a crowd of cheering students
Riding into Mendooran through a crowd of cheering students

Later, I talk to the pupils about carers and our appreciation for their work.

Then we set off for the 80 kilometre ride to Dubbo, arriving in the regional city about 3 pm for a civic reception with the Mayor in a local park. The local media are also there to greet us.

Afterwards, I join Mark Coulton to visit IPROWD, a wonderful program that provides an educational pathway for indigenous people into the police force. Listening to the moving stories of the participants in the 18 week program is a reminder of how the right opportunities can offer individuals a pathway to hope, esteem and self-sufficiency.

IPROWD is a wonderful programme that supports Indigenous Australians into the NSW police force
IPROWD is a wonderful programme that supports Indigenous Australians into the NSW police force

There are already 55 graduates of the program in the NSW police force, and more on the pathway.

Westhaven disability services is the next stop. The participants are involved in a variety of work, ranging from the shredding of confidential documents to a commercial Ugg Boot manufacturing business.

It has been another busy day, on and off the bike. The next stage is a 144 kilometre ride from Dubbo to Mudgee.