Pollie Pedal 2014 – Day 7, Mudgee

It is another long day in the saddle, with a series of community events at each end of the session.

My day commences with a radio interview at 6:30am in the studios of the local radio station, 2DU. Then is it off to the Delroy Campus of the Dubbo College to meet the participants in the newest Clontarf Training Academy.

Clontarf started in the year 2000 with just 25 participants. Today there are academies in 61 locations, catering for about 3,000 students.

The program uses sport to educate young indigenous boys, many of whom lack adequate role models and live in difficult family circumstances. Through the discipline of sport, they are educated in many of the ‘soft’ social and other skills that they may otherwise not learn.

The CEO of Clontarf, Gerard Neesham, is on hand to explain the program, together with school principals and local supporters.

It is a delight to meet many of the young participants. I also confirm that the Australian Government will provide an additional $13 million for the program, taking the total Commonwealth contribution to more than $17 million.

This will allow the program to expand to 6,000 participants, and is matched by State and private funding.

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With the participants of the Clontarf program after their brisk early morning training session

Another interview in the studios of ABC Western Plains follows, and then it is on the bike. Today’s leg is 144 kilometres to Mudgee.

The highlight is a stop at the Goolma school. There are just six pupils, but one is away today. Two of the young students provide us with a delightful singing and tap dancing performance of ‘So Long, Farewell’ from the Sound of Music.

One of the highlights of the trip so far - two (of the school's six) students performing a tap routine for the Pollie Pedal riders
One of the highlights of the trip so far – two of the six students at Goolma school performing a tap routine for the Pollie Pedal riders

After the break, it is onward to Henry Lawson country via the old gold mining town of Gulgong.

Lawson lived in Mudgee for 16 years, attending school there. We pause briefly at the roadside memorial to Lawson and his mother, Louisa, on the entry to the town.

After a welcome from the Mayor, I visit the Living Well Disability Services with Mark Coulton, to hear of their needs, and inspect a planned new premises.

Inspecting plans for a new Lifeskills development to support people with disability and their carers in Mudgee
Inspecting plans for a new Lifeskills development to support people with disability and their carers in Mudgee

The next leg to Lithgow is 150 kilometres, including a number of tough climbs. It will be another long day on the bike, but with more than 800 kilometres behind us, there is only 200 kilometres to go.