2- MAMIL Champions Cycling for Change in the Pacific

Cycling for the Solomons and Power for Women of the Pacific


For the blog of the Canberra to Melbourne ride scroll down


Give her the power to lead
She is a girl in a poor Solomon Islands village. She is bright, but opportunities for her are not as bright as they could be.

You can help make her a leader so she can help lead her village and her nation to a brighter future. Your donation (tax deductible for Australian citizens) will support a civic education and leadership program for young women of Solomon Islands. In that country very few women have had the chance to develop their leadership skills. There is not one in the parliament. Women leaders in developing countries make a big difference to how well they are governed and especially how well girls are educated. And studies show that every educated girl brings about four others in her community out of poverty. Advancement of women is not only a women’s interest issue, but integral to a country’s development. This program is being developed by the not for profit overseas development organisation, the indigo foundation.

From the lake to the bay
On 7 May 2014 half a dozen MAMILs (middle aged men in lycra) are riding 1,000 kilometres from Canberra to Melbourne – from Lake Burley Griffin to Port Philip Bay. Click here for the route.

For each of those kilometres we are pedalling through the wind and rain (and maybe snow on the Monaro High Plain!) we’d like an incentive. We’ll do each kilometre for 2 or 5 or 10 of your cents, but if you can give a dollar per kilometre or 2 or 3 or 4 or more we are sure our legs won’t get so tired.

With the support of several donors (in connection with the BillBerry Ride and the Foundation for Effective Markets and Governance (FEMAG) and the Australian National University’s (ANU) Regulatory Institutions Network (RegNet), the funding is now about $50,000. The indigo foundation program team has just been to Solomon Islands (during the flood catastrophe) and a development memorandum of understanding proposed by the Australian team was enthusiastically endorsed by the local partner organization, the Solomon Islands Girl Guides Association. The plan is for the program to actually get under way by the end of the year.

The ultimate dream, after piloting the program in Solomon Islands, is see it spread to our other small Pacific neighbours as they learn of its success and seek similar support. To achieve all this we’ll need an annual income of at least $10,000 and therefore invested funds of at least $200,000.

Virginia Haussegger* has agreed to send off the riders on the morning of 7 May. A modest event is contemplated to which you would be invited though those outside Canberra would not be expected to make it!

How to Donate
Donations may be made by credit card at this website: https://forms.act.gov.au/smartform/public/FormServer?formId=1058
You will find a drop down menu under “to fund”. Select BillBerry Blue Stocking Fund (indigo foundation)

Alternatively bank transfers may be made to this account:
Account Name: Public Trustee Common Fund
BSB: 062-920 Acc No: 1003 6944
Reference: 141282

For a tax deductible receipt send an email to public.trustee@act.gov.au

Any contribution will help. Whether or not you are able to donate, and we especially appreciate that some of our younger friends won’t have much disposable income, we would be very, very grateful if you would encourage donations from anyone you think might be interested. We would really appreciate anything you can do to tell to everyone you know about this great opportunity to help make a brighter future for our poorest neighbours. We are sure people concerned about empowerment of women, and especially people who want to help the Girl Guide/Scout Movement to develop leaders, will want to contribute. There are millions of former Girl Guides and Scouts in Australia who, given the opportunity to support GG/Scout work in developing countries, would contribute, so we very much want to connect to as many of them as we can. If you know any please let them know.

You can find about

• the indigo foundation at www.indigofoundation.org
• FEMAG at http://www.femag.org.au

• RegNet at http://www.regnet.anu.edu.au

Don’t hesitate to ask for more details.

Founders of the BillBerry Fund
Robin Brown, Jill McSpedden, Anna Brown, Richard Arthur and Allan and Lois Asher.

And the riders
Robin, Rick, Allan, Lew, John and Philip
* Virginia is a journalist, ABC news presenter, author, member of the National Committee Board of UN Women and key supporter of indigo foundation.



MAMIL Champions Cycling for Change in the Pacific


imageDays One and Two

Canberra to Captains Flat – 73 kilometres, 811 metres climbed

Captains Flat to Cooma – 103 kilometres, 1603 metres climbed

Thank you so much to all those who turned out on a chilly Canberra morning to support our ride and our cause, to all who have sent good wishes and generous donations, to Virginia Haussegger who launched the ride and the cause with the clearest message about the need to empower women in the developing world, to all the Burgmann College people who helped and to the College for its generosity in hosting the event which meant extra dollars for the indigo foundation’s work.

The first two days are done and they were fabulous. The wind wasn’t at our back on the first day, from Canberra to Captains Flat (73 kms and 811 vertical metres), but it died away and on the second to Cooma (103 kms and 1603 metres vertical) was hardly evident. The sun shone on the beauty of the tablelands nearly all the time.

(Click on the photos to expand)


A testing climb past the mine tailing hill

A testing climb past the mine tailing hill











Day Three

Cooma to Delegate – 138 kilometres, 1503 metres climbed

It was minus 4 for our departure from Cooma with a quite thick freezing fog. We climbed up out of the fog at about 950 metres into a sunny day on the Monaro High Plain with a breeze of about 18 kms per hour behind us! At our highest point (1100 metres) we had a grand view of the Snowy Mountains complete with a good dusting of snow. We descended to about 800 metres for hot coffee and traditional pink iced fruit bun from Cooma provided by our wonderful sag wagon driver Lois.

After climbing to 1000 metres again we had a thrilling 250 metre descent to the valley of the McLaughlin River. It might well have been named such because the landscape does look a bit like parts of Scotland. In Bibbenluke Lois spoilt us with hot bowls of bean casserole. After a pretty quick coffee in Bombala, we raced against the failing light for the Delegate Pub with a magnificent sunset taking our attention away from the road. Very well fed we are all off early to bed to recuperate from 140 kms and 1583 metres climbed. Tomorrow will be another big day.


Day Four

Delegate to Orbost – 126 kilometres, 1245 metres climbed

imageNot quite such a cold start from Delegate today, but it was a few kilometres before our fingers thawed out. Once they had we were able to operate the binoculars to observe a flock of shelducks helping themselves to a crop of some sort. The morning sun shone on this beautiful rolling upland grazing country for half an hour before a greying sky threatened.

Immediately crossing the border to Victoria cleared fields gave way to magnificent mountain ash forest. Lyrebirds and black wallabies dashed across the road. The rain came and went and came again. Lois again did us proud with hot and spicy lentil soup for lunch which we enjoyed with the added benefit of watching a large machine demolishing a couple of trees killed in the bush fire that ravaged many square kilometres of these forests recently.

From 750 metres at Delegate we climbed (a total of 1129 metres) and descended about three or four or more times over 126 kilometres today to the Club Hotel ($30 each for the night) at Orbost at 34 metres above sea level.

Day Five

Orbost to Bairnsdale – 102 kilometres, 538 metres climbed

A little mist drifted over the dairy fields around Orbost as we set out over the Snowy River on the East Gippsland rail trail. The first few kilometres were a bit worrying as the trail was laid with lumpy, bouncy river gravel. The surface changed to finer gravel, sometimes too fine and, with the recent rain, sticky and boggy. The pace we managed would have got us to Bairnsdale before dark, but for a couple of punctures and an essential ale each at the Bullant brewery at Bruthen. The day was punctuated with magnificent views through the trees by the old railway across East Gippsland’s arcadian landscape. The contrast with the temperate rainforest and rushing streams of yesterday and the endless expanse of the Monaro the day before is stunning.

The deftly fashioned giant trestle bridges the trains chugged across for 60 years impressed us. But so did the very handsome red bellied black snake that a local informed us greets all the passing cyclists at the side of the Stony Creek bridge – the largest remaining bridge of its kind in Victoria. The friesian cows illuminated against the green hills by the setting sun made negotiating the last 10 kilometres into Bairnsdale in the dark worthwhile.

Thankfully we did not have to ride across it

Thankfully we did not have to ride across it









Day 6

Bairnsdale to Traralgon – 130 kilometres, 362 metres climbed

The sun shone on us again today and the wind was merely a zephyr. We swung to the south of the Prince’s highway via Meerlieu. Did someone get the spelling of “milieu” wrong? We were treated to a heart-stopping display of Immelman turns and Cobras and loop the loops by one of the the RAAF Roulettes. A wedge tailed eagle just 30 metres above our heads stimulated a couple of magpies to mimic the Roulette in their efforts to see him off their patch. Cattle egret stalked around the dairy cows patiently waiting for insects to be stirred up. While hundreds of ibis poked around for their brunch a few soared high overhead along with a couple of pelicans.

We missed the Shakespeare Festival at Stratford upon Avon by a couple of days. Here started another rail “trial”. Well it is called a trail, but with parts substantially decorated with horse manure and divots created by hooves and a surface that was often like pushing a blunt knife through frozen butter it was sometimes a bit of a trial.

From Stratford, our first coffee stop, which was not a moment too soon, we were joined by honorary MAMIL Jenny (Philip’s wife) whom Lois met off the train as arranged. At Maffra the bike shop forewent substantial custom by skiving off for 5 minutes.

The trail was really good until Heyfield where the aforementioned horse damage started. We opted for the road for a bit then more trail then road again. A couple of us chose to try the newly opened section of the trail from Glengarry to Traralgon. The surface here was much firmer and this fine way to recycle this historic social asset we greatly enjoyed. The other group stayed on the road, head down on the verge with traffic building as Traralgon neared.

Through the day the verdant pastures of Gippsland were occasionally separated by stands of native flora. In the final kilometres the sinking sun touched everything with gold.

Day 7

Traralgon to Drouin – 88 kilometres, 696 metres climbed


Is there another way without fog and logging trucks?

We pedalled out of Traralgon past its magnificent red brick post office and court buildings and then wound our way through the hills to North Yallourn in thick fog. This was made more than a little exciting by the log trucks going both ways, some with huge mountain ash logs bound for the paper mill and some with pinus radiata bound for the saw mill.

Yallourn power station appeared out of the fog. With its quietly steaming, elegantly curved cooling towers, strangely proportioned as the violin family of instruments, standing against the rising sun it really is a thing of beauty. It is so sad that its huge out pouring of carbon dioxide contributes so much to global warming.

The rail trail from the power station to Moe got us away from the traffic then after a couple hills we had a long flat road to ourselves by a canal.

We lunched in Yarragon at the Fozziegobble cafe on various organic comestibles including green smoothies which we were sure were so full of goodness that we could probably eat chips for the next seven days and still be nutritionally in the blac

We then wended our way through rolling land overlooked by the Strzelecki range. We are sure that the jersey and friesien cows could choose no better place in the world to live their bucolic lives.

Hillier than we expected

Hillier than we expected

A final climb took us to the town of Drouin for the night.


Day 8

Drouin to Melbourne – 143 kilometres, 689 metres climbed

The day started with a chilly descent to the West Gippsland flat lands. We rode for 28 kilometres in a straight line along the Bunyip River road. None of us had ever ridden so far in a straight line previously. The river was in fact one of a number of canals which we think we’re engineered to drain this land. Much of it now produces asparagus. There are now golden fields of asparagus fronds the spears having presumably been harvested by now.

We hit the bay at Frankston and turned into a north westerly head wind and struggled against this for the rest of the day into Melbourne. We stopped for fish and chips for lunch at Mordialloc and to photograph the beach huts at Brighton against the city skyline.

We have come to journey’s end. There is a sense of relief amongst us, but also a little wistfulness that we are parting company and won’t be settling ourselves in our saddles again tomorrow and, with only our own muscle power, crossing another 100 or more kilometres of the globe.

Adding up our daily kilometres will reveal that we did not quite ride 1000.  It was 903.  We climbed 7.447 kilometres though, which is more than climbing from the sea to the summit of Aconcagua, the highest mountain in the Andes.  It would have been nice to do an Everest.

A more accurate translation than “A journey of a thousand miles starts with a single step” of Chinese philosopher, Laozi’s saying is “A journey of a thousand li starts beneath one’s feet” (in our case beneath one’s pedal).  A li is about 500 metres so we did well more than 1000 li.  What is more is that it is a flexible measure and is reduced according to the effort required and we reckon climbing more than an Aconcagua’s worth is a pretty big effort.  So we hope those who donated on the basis of our pedaling 1000 kilometres will forgive us.

Thinking about the old Irish blessing which Virginia Haussegger gave us on departure, the road rose to meet us, sometimes quite a lot, the wind was not always at our back, but it was when we really needed it, the sun shone warm upon our faces nearly all the time and the rains fell little, but  softly when they did.  And we made it without mishap so it seems that perhaps God did hold us in the palm of his hand.

Arrival at the Bay

Arrival at the Bay



2 thoughts on “2- MAMIL Champions Cycling for Change in the Pacific

  1. Pingback: indigo foundation

  2. Well done chaps, what a great effort!!
    Hope you’ve all stopped to enjoy some Melb culture. And yes good to read that there were no major mishaps en route.

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