The sight of the communications tower on Black Mountain was a welcome relief for the peloton as we approached the national capital after a fast 120 kilometre cycle from Cooma. Along the way, we stopped to visit the Bredbo primary school and its nine pupils. Coming into Canberra, a group of us paused by the roadside where the endurance cyclist, Mike Hall, was killed a week ago.
After visiting the Royal Military College, Duntroon, we attended the Last Post Ceremony at the Australian War Memorial. The ceremony, modelled on a long standing event at Menin Gate, Ypres, is conducted each afternoon. It is a tribute to former Defence Minister, Brendan Nelson, now director of the War Memorial, who modelled the local ceremony on the Belgium commemoration. Each day, a different Australian casualty of war is honoured.
Yesterday it was Sapper Charles Finn, who joined the Cooee March from Gilgandra to Sydney to enlist for the Great War. He was killed in France in 1917 alongside another engineer when a German shell exploded close to them. They had been endeavouring to defuse a German mine at the time.
His great niece, Lisa Tibben, and a historian of the Cooee march, Margaret Piggott, laid wreaths. The veterans Minister, Dan Tehan, Tony Abbott, the founder of Soldier On, John Bale, and myself also laid a floral tribute during the service, as did children from schools visiting Canberra.
Later that evening, we heard from one of the historians of the Afghan conflict of their five year project to record the Australian involvement.
Another early start to day five of the ride involved the launch of Soldier On’s Sports Recovery Programme at their Canberra headquarters. This new project involves various elite sporting organisations partnering with Soldier On to provide opportunities for Veterans.
Soon we are underway for the 120 kilometre trek to Canberra via Bungendore and Tribago. Along the way, we visit to Biorecovery plant at Mainwaring, which processes about 40 % of Sydney’s domestic waste. It is a practical environmental project.
The Mayor of Goulburn, along with local residents, greeted us on our arrival in the historic New South Wales city. It was a chance to chat about sir local issues.
Tomorrow, we cycle to Mittagong.