On Thursday the 24th August, 31 men and women set out from Boonah, which is SW of Brisbane and headed off on an 18 day journey which would take them to and overnight in the following towns, Dalby, Roma, Charleville, Blackall, Longreach, Winton, Cloncurry, Richmond, Hughenden, Charters Towers to Townsville.
Most were ex-ADF personnel and they rode a mix of eight 110cc Honda and Suzuki scooters and one 160cc Kymco and although cruising between 80 and 90kph all the way, not one missed a beat, all performed perfectly, an amazing feat really when you think a lot of lawn mowers have a bigger engine.
This year follows on from the successful 2022 event when participants rode from Rosewood, west of Ipswich, to Townsville via a slightly different route though back then on 125cc Honda CB motor-bikes. Last year we raised $25,000 for our charity of choice – Legacy, this year we managed to raise $30,200. We’re already planning 2024 and intend to raise the bar once again.
It had been planned to leave from Ipswich but requirements dropped on our Association by Ipswich Council at the last minute, ie: provide a traffic management plan, a rubbish management plan, a sanitation management plan etc, left us stranded. We didn’t have the finances, the know how or even the time to comply so we had to look for a departure point elsewhere. We had a frantic look around and thankfully, Beth Hern from the Boonah Showground welcomed us with open arms.
Kedron Wavell RSL Sub-Branch loaned us their Toyota ute which we used to pick up the chips kindly donated by Smiths Confectionery. We have found Smiths to be a very generous company and their donations were going to brighten the day for a lot of kids.
SIXT had graciously granted us the use of a Toyota Coaster bus and a small truck and on the Monday morning it was back to my place to get the gear and truck it all out to Boonah.
So, on Monday the 21st August, a few of us arrived at the Boonah Showground’s dining hall, which had been allocated to us, armed with a ton of chips as well as a bunch of blow-up beds, sleeping bags, riding jackets, helmets etc, all of which had to be sorted and laid out ready for the arrival of the troops next day.
Our WOD, Ros Curran, took charge and after about an hour or so, barking orders left and right, she had the job done. She then declared an early stand-down, the workers selected their own bed spots, then it was time to cool off with a cold one or two at one of the local pubs.
Next day the little bus and the truck picked up the troops and their gear from the Kedron Wavell Services Club. Those riding were dropped off at Nibble Bike Hire in Newstead to pick up their little scooter – a piece of equipment they would get to know very well over the next few weeks, then it was full steam ahead out to Boonah.
We arrived at the Boonah Showground’s Dining Hall about 1.00pm, equipment was collected, friends got together, bed spots were selected, beds blown up, made, gear stowed away. Excitement started to rise, at last it was on.
And very soon
The interior of the Boonah Showground dining hall.
After the troops had set up, it wasn't long before John Broughton had his magic keyboard ready to go and started banging out a tune.
For most it was their first time at Boonah so they went exploring, the locale of shops, pubs and more importantly, the whereabouts of the shower and toilet block was found. That night via a unanimous decision, it was decided to dine at Simons’ Tavern in Boonah, though a few with withdrawal systems suggested a sausage sizzle would have been preferable.
The following day, Wednesday, we’d arranged for a get together at the showground, several organisations were invited and the RAAF had agreed to bring their hot-air balloon, to park it in the centre of the arena and depending on weather conditions, take the local kids for a short ride.
The whole town was invited – but unfortunately, not a lot turned up. This was disappointing as organisations such as 1 Combat Comms Sqn, ADF Recruiting, DVA etc made the effort to set up stalls to explain who they were, what they did and why they did it.
We thank them for their efforts.
The balloon was a hit though. At first the weather was against SqnLdr Sam Wright and his very capable team, the wind was blowing a bit too hard and they had to wait for some hours before they were able to “pump” it up.
They use a large fan to blow air into the envelope to inflate it then the big gas burner is attached and lit and hot air is pumped in, causing the whole thing to lift. Once it was up and running, the kids lined up for a ride and loved it.
The RAAF anchor the balloon by tying it to 3 vehicles arranged around it in a triangle, this is so it doesn’t head off for unknown parts with a bunch of kids on board. The triangle shape means it can only go straight up (and eventually come down again) and not wander off when/if acted upon by a puff of wind. Neil Snudden took some video of the balloon being prepared, it shows the 3 anchor vehicles – and you can see it HERE.
And while the kids were lined up, patiently waiting their turn in the balloon, a number of Scootavillens decided to take them for a lap or two of the arena on the back of a scooter.
Marie Henson doing laps
Peter Roberts with a happy passenger.
Boonah Lions had also set up a “stall” on the Wednesday and provided a sausage sizzle for those present and very kindly provided a very welcome breakfast for the Scootavillens on the Thursday morning.
A few days later, Tom O’Neil the President of Boonah Lions presented us with a cheque for $350 as a donation to Legacy. This was their takings from their sausage sizzle, very generous Boonah Lions, thank you.
John Volke, who lives out that way and who has a wonderfully
decorated Harley Davidson and sidecar, came, along with his faithful old dog
Angus, to say hello and introduce himself.
John does a lot of charity work, joining toy and other
fundraising bike runs whenever he can. His wife Sharon’s father was in the Army
and taught soldiers how to ride motor-cycles during the war
They have a mural of the Beersheba Charge (WW1) air brushed
on the bike and on the sidecar are the pictures of three soldiers, the first is
of a friend’s great uncle who served in World War One, the second is of his dad
who went over to New Guinea in the second world war and the third is a friend of
John’s who served in Vietnam.
John asked if he could ride with us for a while and offered
to take Cathy, our chef de la résistance in the sidecar as far as Amberley.
Thursday morning came and it was time to leave Boonah and
head for Dalby – our first overnighter. WGCDR David Torrington, the CO of 35Sqn
and Evan Cannard, the Sqn’s WOFF, were kind enough to make the journey out to
Boonah to see us off.
Evan is a keen bike rider himself, though he normally rides a
bike somewhat larger than our scooters – he had great delight in telling us the
starter motor on his bike is bigger than the engine on ours.
We thought we’d give him a thrill and let him ride one of
ours, which he reluctantly did but after doing a few laps we nearly had to fight
him to get him off it.
Evan had ridden his “proper” bike over to Boonah and joined
us all the way back to Amberley where we had to stop in front of the F111 for
the compulsory photo.
John Volke, who lives out that way and who has a wonderfully decorated Harley Davidson and sidecar, came, along with his faithful old dog Angus, to say hello and introduce himself.
John does a lot of charity work, joining toy and other fundraising bike runs whenever he can. His wife Sharon’s father was in the Army and taught soldiers how to ride motor-cycles during the war
They have a mural of the Beersheba Charge (WW1) air brushed on the bike and on the sidecar are the pictures of three soldiers, the first is of a friend’s great uncle who served in World War One, the second is of his dad who went over to New Guinea in the second world war and the third is a friend of John’s who served in Vietnam.
John asked if he could ride with us for a while and offered to take Cathy, our chef de la résistance in the sidecar as far as Amberley.
Thursday morning came and it was time to leave Boonah and head for Dalby – our first overnighter. WGCDR David Torrington, the CO of 35Sqn and Evan Cannard, the Sqn’s WOFF, were kind enough to make the journey out to Boonah to see us off.
Evan is a keen bike rider himself, though he normally rides a bike somewhat larger than our scooters – he had great delight in telling us the starter motor on his bike is bigger than the engine on ours.
We thought we’d give him a thrill and let him ride one of ours, which he reluctantly did but after doing a few laps we nearly had to fight him to get him off it.
Evan had ridden his “proper” bike over to Boonah and joined us all the way back to Amberley where we had to stop in front of the F111 for the compulsory photo.
From Amberley it was out past the Walloon pub, once the favourite haunt for a Wednesday afternoon “sporty” then onto the Warrego Hwy and onto Toowoomba where Gary Graham, the President of the Toowoomba Air Force Association, had arranged a wonderful lunch for us at the Milne Bay Army Barracks.
On the 20th January 1875 the 8th Company, Queensland Volunteer Rifle Brigade was formed in Toowoomba, Queensland, in order to meet the defence needs of the newly independent state of Queensland. This unit would later become part of the 4th Queensland (Darling Downs) Regiment, although when the colonial defence forces were amalgamated with the Commonwealth Military Forces following federation, the unit was disbanded in 1902.
In 1911, the Australian government instituted a compulsory military training scheme. As a result of this the 11th (Darling Downs) Australian Infantry Regiment was raised. With its headquarters in Toowoomba, it had a recruiting area stretching from Oxley in Brisbane to Roma and at its peak had an establishment of 1,450 men.
The buildings above were first constructed in 1917 as a recruiting depot for the 11th light horse. At the end of the war in 1918 it became the headquarters and training depot for the 26th Battalion and today it houses ADF recruiting for the Toowoomba area as well as being the HQ for the 13 Army Cadet unit.
Gary had liaised with the Toowoomba RSL Sub-Branch and in conjunction with Army, provided a wonderful and very welcome lunch for us all.
After lunching, having a quick look around the Barracks, seeing to nature’s requirements, it was time to jacket up, hop on the scooters and head for Dalby, a mere 85 km away.
As was to be the case all up the line, the Dalby Council had granted us the use of one of their pavilions at the showground in which to overnight.
Local Councils out west were very generous and we couldn’t have done what we did, couldn’t have raised the $30,200 for legacy, without their unwavering support. We offer them all a big thank you!
Knox Pavilion - Dalby Showgrounds.
On reaching Dalby and after refuelling our scooters, unloading the little truck, choosing a bed space, pumping up the bed, laying out the sleeping bag, a shower, it was time to crack open a Powers or three.
CUB had offered us a number of cartons of their reincarnated brew for us to quench a day’s-end raging thirst and we must say it proved very popular. While they lasted, Powers became the beer of choice for the team.
We must also thank the local RSL Sub-Branches for their amazing support, without which this event could not, or possibly would not, have happened. Dalby Sub-Branch was a classic example. That night they provided a fabulous evening meal for everyone, it was so good many in the team wanted to stay a bit longer.
Everyone was in such a good mood after that sumptuous meal that the WOD decided to give some dancing lessons. Here she’s showing Arthur Reeves how to master the Pride of Erin.
Ros and Dave Pedler then showed us how to bush the Nut.
Next morning things were bit slow, the previous night had taxed a few though not Kiwi. He was up early, loaded his ute then cracked the whip hurrying everyone along. Today we had a school to visit.
60km west of Dalby is the little town of Brigalow (Pop 170). Brigalow doesn’t have a lot, it has a grain silo, a public hall, a general store, a phone box and few km out of town a great little primary school.
Very generous firms such as Smiths Confectionery, IGA, Coca-Cola and the Air Force had given us a large number of items which we bundled up into bags supplied to us by Gladstone Council and handed them out to the delighted and so well-behaved kids.
We called into a number of schools this trip and met a heap of kids, all lovely, all well behaved, all eager to learn, excited, imaginations in full gear, it was great to see them and their teachers who although seemed terribly young when compared to us, (but who doesn't?) were caring, dedicated people, all respected by the kids. Australia’s future is in good hands.
We brought a few scooters in so the kids could hop on, start and rev the hell out of them, toot the horn, imagining themselves on the Isle of Man, though a lot probably had and rode bigger bikes at home.
We enjoyed it as much as the kids did.
Then with lunch time fast approaching and Jillian O’Toole dreaming of a pie and peas, it was time to say our good-byes and head further west once again. Next stop was Miles, only a 40 min ride from the school.
We had arranged a tour of the Miles Historic Village on the eastern outskirts of the town after which we were looking forward to lunch in the Red Rose Café.
Lunching at Miles – though no pies for Jillian.
If you’re in that area, make sure you’ve got a few hours to spare and have a look through the museum. It is very well done, interesting and the staff are super helpful.
With a bit over 140km to go until our next overnighter, Roma, we decided to make the compulsory stop at the pink pub in Dulacca – just 45km further west. Dulacca is a bit bigger than Brigalow with a population of 190. It has a memorial hall, a rest area, a coffee shop, a Puma service station – and a pink pub!
We had a brief stop, a cool drink, a trip to the boys/girls room, a rider change then it was back in the saddle and attack the next 100km to Roma.