Another fundraiser on a push scooter
This is Vaclav (Venda) Hanza on the unicycle training around Coober Pedy.
The unicycle is on loan from Unicycle Dot Com Australia
To learn more about this sport go to
Australian sales contact
Jirka (George) Babicz - our support Team.
Jirka is an accomplished traveller, having visited 105 countries. He is no 155 on their most travelled people's list. He lives in Perth with his wife Jana and his lovely dog Nicky.
Both Venda and Jirka are paying for the trip to Tassie and all expenses from their own pockets.
Another picture of Jirka travelling through Sahara Desert during his younger days.
Deputy Mayor of Burnie Anita Dow ready to see us off
At Coast FM 106.1 with Dean Holloway
On the Ferry accross the Pieman River
Cecil Hotel Zeehan
It was pretty hot up the mountain.
The poncho came handy
Lookout half way up Mt Wellington
In Polish Club
Fundraising in Hobart
Bay of Fires
Nice meeting with old friends Glenn and Dina
George enjoying a well deserved cuppa
George from Perth WA posing at the sign of Perth in Tassie
In Carrick Hotel with Trudy and Cookie
(not sure how to spell his nickname)
Marik Gallery in Carrick
Lovely BBQ dinner at Marik's outdoor kitchen at Hadspen
A must visit to Anvers Chocolate Factory
How lucky to meet such a superstar
Support riders near Burnie
Welcome in Burnie
Filming with the whole family
Fitting a small camera on the scooter for action shots
With cheque from the Commonwealth Bank
Great Grandad Pushes for Charity
On 1 March 2010 Irrepressible ultra marathon runner and great grandfather, Vlastislav “Vlastik” Skvaril will be celebrating being a Great Grandad in a rather unique way, by embarking on a 1,300km push scooter ride around Tasmania. This journey is set to last 20 days and is being completed to raise funds for CanTeen, the Australian organisation which supports young people living with cancer.
Vlastik, Australian of the year finalist and retired cheesemaker from Burnie, hopes to raise $10,000 for CanTeen. As he says “what I like about CanTeen is the fact that apart from those directly diagnosed with cancer, CanTeen also supports young people who have a brother, sister or parent diagnosed with cancer or who has died from cancer. I believe, that it just as traumatic, if not more, for young people dealing with a family member that has been diagnosed with cancer. I feel very lucky to have six grandchildren and a great grandchild who are all healthy, and therefore, have a great sympathy for those who are not as lucky as we are.”
70yr old Vlastik will travel from his hometown of Burnie on the 1st March along the coast through to Queenstown then Hobart, St Mary’s, Launceston and finishing back in Burnie on the 20th March. This momentous 20 day event will see Vlastik pushing his manual scooter on average 65kms a day. Vlastik’s support during this ride will be from his good friend, Jiri ( George) Babicz, a collegue from a Dairy College living in Perth, who will travel behind him in Vlastik’s trusty campervan.
A big news is, that we will be also joined by Vaclav Hanza on a unicycle. This will sure attract a lot of attention.
As Vlastik says “throughout all my journeys half of the donations came from Tasmania. There is so much more generosity in Tasmania than anywhere else”.
Known for his innovative and arduous fundraising tactics, Vlastik ran across Australia in 2006, from its southernmost to northernmost point - a distance of 5506km in 92 days and managed to raise $25,000 for charity. Last year he ran an incredible 5,768km over 100 days from the westernmost point of Australia to the easternmost point, and raised $18,000 for CanTeen along the way.
Vlastik can be sponsored online at www.everydayhero.com.au/scooterman, with every cent donated going directly to CanTeen to support young people living with cancer.
About CanTeen – The Australian Organisation for Young People Living with Cancer
CanTeen is the Australian Organisation for Young People Living with Cancer. CanTeen's Members are young people (12-24 year-olds) living with cancer, including cancer patients, brothers or sisters of cancer patients and young people with a parent or primary care giver with cancer. CanTeen provides Members with a place where they can simply be young people - away from the adult dominated environment of cancer hospitals and treatment regimes. Through its camps and programs, CanTeen encourages its Members to get involved, make friends and have fun! In the words of our Members, the most effective form of support is from other young people in a similar situation - who have "been there, done that". For more information, please visit www.canteen.org.au
For further information during the route, please contact:
We are on the way
We were very lucky with the weather for the start of our ride. It was cool, but fine, very light wind. Anita Dow with few other representatives from the Burnie City Council came to offer some encouragement and to see us off. Journalists from The Advocate and The Mercury turned up which was much appreciated. Without the media letting people know what we are doing ,we would be wasting our time. People would probably think , that we had too much to drink and now doing silly thinks on the road!
With light breeze from behind, it was a quick trip to Wynyard. To help further with publicity we stopped at Coast FM for an interview. I was very happy to find out that it was Dean Holloway who interviewed us. We have been good friends with Dean for 25 years and since he had spent some time in Queensland recently, we had not seen him for a while, though we kept in touch.
Back on the highway we were making a very good progress, there are not many hills until Sisters Hills. The wind turned around at about that time and the going was not as easy as before, but as it is said, when the going gets tough, the tough gets going, and that was the case. After 90 km for the day we arrived at Stanley at about 6 pm, in time to claim the Nut for the beautiful views of the surroundings. For the night we camped near the wharf under the Nut, a very beautiful spot. The colours of the rock were changing with the sun coming down, a one of the precious moments. No wonder there were around 25 other campers with caravans and motorhomes.
Night was peaceful, 8 degrees, which made it good for sleeping, but unfortunately the wind was quite strong and against us. It was still a reasonably quick trip to Smithton, where we stopped for a while to see several of my friends from The Rotary Club. I spent a couple of years in Smithton and made a lot of very good friends. Another stop at the Supermarket to replenish our supplies for the next few days, we will be spending on the remote West coast. The wind was blowing against us all the way and if anything, it was getting stronger. There were many times, when we both had to walk even on the level roads. It was sometimes impossible to ride against the wind. In any case we arrived at Arthur River Cabin Park reasonably early to be able to rinse our sweaty cloths and write few lines for my blog. I am doing it in both English and Czech and it is not always easy.
The friendly owners of the Arthur River Cabin Park proved to be again very generous and did not charge for the powered site. They did the same for us while I was on another charity run around Tasmania a couple of years ago. Without any exaggeration I have to say, that this is a very good Cabin Park with first class facilities. A must stop for anyone travelling the west coast.
With the strong wind continuing, it was annoying, when I talked to Jo on the phone, she told me, that in Burnie was no wind at all. That is not fair, is it?
Soon after leaving in the morning we found ourselves on the Western Explorer, 124 kilometres of unsealed road. We were told that the road is very rough and they were not wrong. I have been on it a couple of times, but this was the worst condition I have experienced. Very corrugated. On the top of it a very strong head wind and there did not seem to be any hope for improvement. At times I had to walk even on a level road, the wind was so strong. After few hours the phone rang. It was Dean from Coast FM Wynyard checking on our progress. It definitely cheered me up, it was nice to hear from a good friend. The road is going up and down, but mainly up, until we could see Mt. Belfour on right and few big downhills ahead. That's when the Murphy's Law struck. George was hardly 50 metres away from me driving ahead for another 5 km, when I noticed that ma tyre on the front wheel was flat. Just with the downhills ahead and I had to push the scooter full 5 km before catching up with George and the chance to change the tube. But there was a good news as well. The wind stop and it was hard to believe how calm it suddenly was. We started making a very good progress and made to Corrina. The generosity of Tasmanians again was on display, we could camp overnight free of charge and even the crossing on the Ferry of the Pieman River was without the charge.
The description and the history of the Tarkine region was described in my previous fundraser Run Around Tasmania so I will not repeat it. It can be found there.
12 kilometres past Corrina we are back on the bitumen. It was altogether only 50 kilometres to Zeehan and talking about perfect weather, this was it! By mid afternoon we arrived at Zeehan. We got some very generous donations from locals and some tourists and parked our van at the Cecil Hotel. When I was doing a fundraiser at Woolworths in Burne, I was approached by a gentleman, who introduced himself as the Manager of the Cecil Hotel and invited us to camp there while passing through Zeehan. Much appreciated, especially the shower after travelling the western Explorer.
Ian and Sue, the Proprietors even shouted us a lovely, cold glass of Tassie beer and we spent there a very enjoyable evening.
Morning started well, weather looked good and the road was going downhill. But soon I found, that my anticipation of an easy ride was misplaced. No matter how hard I was trying, the progress down the hills was very slow. I thought that something must be wrong with my scooter. I checked the wheel s for some friction, but they were spinning freely. So what the bloody hell is going wrong? (Excuse me the language, but since it was good enough for advertising Australia to the world, it is good enough for me, I guess). But since Venda was complaining about the same problem, I knew it must had been something with the magnetic field which was holding us back. It reminded me old Czech story about the origin of the lion which is in the Czech emblem. The lion was brought to the country, according to the tale, by a noble Bruncvik from his travels around the world. In one part of the journey, they landed on an island with a mountain called Jantarova Hora. The island was inhabited by some very bad characters and the whole group was being held captive b y them. They tried to escape, but no matter how hard they tried to row, the boat was always pulled back by the gravity of the mountain. I am not going to tell you the rest of the story, it is in a book called Stare Povesti Ceske. But you would have to learn Czech first so never mind about the whole story. But I am sure, that Bruncvik felt the same frustration as we did after leaving Zeehan. After a couple of hours it started to get easier, the big hills were helping me to make a good progress. I somehow really enjoy pushing up the hills and it is even better racing downhill.
Close to midday I received a call from Dean from Coast FM. I enjoy talking to him anytime so being able to get a message on the air about CanTeen and our progress is even better. I pulled up on the roadside, just behind the while line, to make sure, that I was not on the road. Suddenly, when getting close to concluding the interview, a Police car stopped and a young Policewomen started shouted at me to GET OFF THE ROAD!!!!
I moved a little further from the white line, but with one hand holding the phone, it was not as easy as someone might think. She kept yelling GET OFF THE ROAD!!! and I was trying to explain to her, that I was off the road and that I was talking on the radio so I could not pay the full attention to her. She persisted at shouting at me, Dean brought the interview to the end because we were getting nowhere, and in the moment of frustration I mumbled to myself “silly woman”. What I did not expect, was that she heard it! And now without the worries about the interview, we had a chance to start having a good discussion. She told me, that she could have me arrested for insulting an police officer and I realized that the best thing was to apologise and explain, that I did not expect her to hear it and that I said it in a moment of frustration. If I was on the road as a private citizen, I would have been happy for her to arrest me and give me a chance in front someone else to prove how wrong she was. She did admit herself, that I was off the road, but not far enough off the road. Are there really any degrees of being off the road?
With a conciliatory tone she tried to tell me, that all she was concerned about was my safety. She told me that I did not know the roads so she has to protect me from the danger. I said; “Of course I do not know the roads, I have been here only 40 years!” She was something between 20 - 30 years old, so she did not like it very much. I tried to explain to her, that I am very much aware of road safety after travelling all over Australia with all the road trains and dodging the traffic in the big cities. Eventually we somehow buried the hatchets, but before parting, she had the last word: ”In future mind your language.” I promised I would. But I would like to add, that I respect the Police and all the hard work they do. Maybe some have sometimes wrong priorities, but don’t we all?
In Queenstown we replenished our supplies and noticed a rotisserie full of chickens being barbecued and decided to get one, but it would take another hour before being ready and we did not have so much time to spare. Than we noticed, that there was one still left from the previous batch. Looking at it seemed OK, apart from being slightly burnt. Strangely enough we all like it slightly burnt, at least we know it is cooked well. And we even got discount for it so for $6.99 all three of us had a lovely lunch.
Gormanston Hill was waiting for us, everyone one who has been to Tassie knows what I am talking about. Some years ago there used to be a race up and down the hill. It was called “Gormy Gallop” I remember one year the start was officiated by a local politician. When we all turned up for the start, he expressed his surprise to see so many old runners. He commented that his first thought was that we turned up for a picnic organised by some Retirement Home. Not many young people were crazy enough for this sort of races.
But I enjoy pushing uphill and done it so many times on this hill, that it does not bother me any more.
Down the hill was very quick and the rest of the day was very enjoyable. We got well past Lake Burbury and found a good spot for an overnight camp.
Overnight we had a heavy rain, as expected, but morning was very pleasant. It lasted only about two hours and the rest of the day there were many showers. But since it was not cold, I did not even put on my raincoat. The biggest disappointment was, that I could not show my companions beautiful view of \Frenchman Cap, which was completely covered by clouds. In the afternoon the weather improved and by the time we got to Derwent Bridge, it was beautiful afternoon. The temperature reached 30 degrees. We had plenty of time so we could drive to Lake St. Claire and then settled down in the front of Derwent Bridge Hotel.
The night was cold, as usually is in the mountains, only 4 degrees. At last we had a good sleep, the previous nights were too warm. It was very foggy in the morning, but we did not have to rush. There were only 50 kilometres to Tarraleah, where we arrived at about 3 pm. Settled in the Caravan park for $5.00 for unpowered site. The first thing I was trying to do was to buy a meat pie. I have been longing for it since Queenstown, but everywhere they were sold out. I could not believe, that the same story was repeated here. They all were saying, that they have been unusually busy and pies sold out. I wonder if it had anything to do with the hundreds of motorcycles we met on the road during the day.
But it was not all bad news. The lady owner of the Coffee Shop offered us free cappuccinos with an apple crumble. Without exaggeration, it was the best one I have ever had. They also invited us for free coffee in the morning before departure. It goes back to what John Flynn, the founder of the Flying Doctors once said:"Don’t worry… I have sufficient faith in human nature to believe, that when you set out to help people, they in turn will help you.”
And Tasmanian people are ones of the most generous and helpful.
Plenty of rain overnight, but otherwise very peaceful. Morning looked very promising, but we had to make one more stop. The staff from the Coffee Shop invited us to enjoy another free cappuccino. It was an offer too god to refuse. Finally we hit the road after 9.30 am. Unfortunately it did not take long and the rain started coming down as forecasted. Luckily I always carry with me a spare plastic poncho so I could slip it on to avoid being completely saturated by the time I would catch up with George. We decided to stop and wait till the worst was over. It was a good opportunity for good yarn. After not seeing each other over 50 years, we both had a lot of stories to tell. Venda meanwhile caught up with his correspondence and all the news on his laptop.
The weather finally improved giving us the chance to make it to Hamilton. A small town with a lovely sheltered camping spot with toilets and a shower. No wonder that it was packed with caravans and motorhomes, taking advantage of the free camping. Even the sun came up later in the afternoon so we have nothing to complain about. I could even finally buy a meat pie. All the way from Queenstown every shop and Cafe I had visited ran out of pies. This one was with steak and bacon, really delicious.
For once we decided to drop into the local Hotel for a beer. Just one glass each. But it was worth. There was only a lady behind the bar and a boarder. After a good chat they each donated $20 to the collection tin. Much appreciated.
Hamilton to Weldborough
The night was very peaceful. We started with a long uphill, but the wind was from behind so we could see the good side of it. From the top of the hill it was mostly downhill. It could have been an easy day. When we passed through Gretna, dark, nasty looking clouds were rapidly approaching. I knew it was close to the time when Dean from Coast FM would called me for a chat on the radio and I did not like the idea of going through the interview if the downpour had started. luckily there was a huge owning nearby, perhaps from abandoned shop, and as soon as I sheltered under Dean rang. I already said that I always love talking to Dean, but I cannot overemphasize how well Dean promotes CanTeen during those interviews. He is really dedicated to helping our mission to be a success.
It did not take two minutes after I hit the road again, when the rain and the extremely gusty winds arrived. Luckily I always carry a plastic poncho with me, but putting it on in those winds proved a real challenge. But eventually I got it on, managed to cover with it my basket on the front of the scooter, to protect all its contents from the rain as well as myself. So it wasn't a big drama. By the time I caught with George, the conditions improved again. With the winds mostly from behind and lots of downhills we made a steady progress to New Norfolk. We stopped there for a walk through the town, received some small donations, not much, bought a BBQ chicken to share amongst us and kept going towards Hobart. The wind was getting stronger and when we turned 90 degrees left towards Bridgewater I realized, how strong the wind was. It was trying to knock me over and I realized with the heavy traffic and narrow road I had no chance to cross the bridge safely. I had no choice but to get over the fence onto the railway and battle my way forward. Sometimes the gusts of wind stopped me altogether, other times I had a job not to fall over. It was a horror story. I was so relieved when I reached the other side and joined George and Venda at McDonalds for a Big Mac and a soft serve cone.
The rain started again, the wind seemed to be getting even stronger, and we were looking for the first suitable place to stop for overnight rest. The only suitable place was at Risdon Cove, which is now aboriginal land, but the gate was open so we decided to drive in and wait to see what will happen. A lady arrived soon after to lock the gate, but when we explained to her what we are doing, she was happy to let us stay overnight. What a relieve! We did not feel like moving any more in this weather.
The weather looked more promising in the morning, but we did not rush too early out of bed. There were only few kilometres to Hobart left. the first thing we did was to drive to Mount Wellington. I wanted to show my friends the beautiful view from the top. But the clouds would have to be more cooperative. We did get half way up, the view was OK, but that was all. No point going any further, the top was covered with clouds. We did the sensible thing and drove to the Berridale Caravan Park to settle down and have a bit of rest. It was again very generous of the owners that they did not charge for the camping site. In the evening we drove to the Polish Club to meet with some Czech and Slovak friends. We do not see them often and always enjoy their company when the opportunity arrives. The managers Maria and John Spencer provided some munchies for us, which was much welcome and also we had the opportunity to buy Czech beer Velkopopovicky Kozel from a very old and famous brewery. It was a lovely evening, but we had to say goodbye. We had a busy day ahead, starting with a fundraiser at the Centro Shopping Centre at New Town. We had a lot of support from Shae from the CanTeen office as well as several other members. The media showed a lot of interest too, two radio interviews, Southern Cross TV turned up and The Mercury newspaper too.
After over 4 hours of fundraising we were on the road again. Soon we are crossing the Tasman Bridge. I have always strange feelings about it. I cannot erase from my memory the day in the early seventies, when the bridge was hit by a ship and a section of it crushed a long way to the river killing about a dozen people. It could have been worse, but the picture of a car precariously balanced on the edge of the broken bridge makes me still to shiver. As you cross the bridge on the footpath, as we did, there are signs warning people not to cross, if a large ship is approaching. Nobody with the memories of that catastrophe feels comfortable crossing the bridge. Making a very good progress we arrived late afternoon at Buckland, camping behind the old Hotel. A very interesting place, worth stopping. The proprietors welcome campers. Apart from the Hotel, the other attraction is the old Church of Saint John the Baptist. Its greatest attraction is an authentic 14th century stained glass windows from Battle Abbey in Hastings, England. Much could be written about the unusual tranquillity of this area around Buckland, but this is not the place for it. We had an opportunity to watch the evening news to see what they produced about our fundraiser. I think that they did a good job.
The night was cold, good for sleeping. I could not believe, that at 8 am there was still no movement in Georges tent. He is always the first one to rise and start encouraging us to get up. During my previous fundraisers with Jo we usually got up early and by 7 am were on the road. This time, we seem to be a bit reluctant to get up early, but to sleep till 8 am is very unusual. We finally all got up and started our ride at 9 am. Yet, by 5 pm we covered 77 kilometres to Swansea. This was quite easy, considering the perfect conditions. Cool temperatures around 20 degrees and no wind. This placed us a day ahead of our schedule. We can now continue in more leisurely pace and look around at the beauty of the East Coast. The owners of the Swansea Holiday Park and Beach Chalets not only let us stay free. They also donated $200 dollars to CanTeen. Isn’t this a marvellous display of generosity? It really warms up our hearts.
The morning started with a call from Doc from the Coast FM. It is always good to talk to him or Dean to let people know what we are doing, as well as to catch up with the news from home. Weather was perfect, cool, no wind. Riding along the East Coast always brings up good memories. While going through Orford I remembered how many years ago, during the visit of my brother Josef, we hired a fishing boat with a group of friends from Lactos and went fishing around Maria Island. I often heard great fishing stories, but this was the first time we actually experienced something unreal ourselves. First the fishermen dropped nets to check on later, and then the unbelievable happened. We ran into a school of barracouta and the the experience of what happened next stays with me till today. We did not even need to put any bite on the hooks. Empty hooks were enough for the fish to grab as soon as it landed in the sea. We were pulling out one after another, hundreds of them, while the crew of the boat were filleting them with a great skill and speed. Eventually we all had enough and headed for a bay at the Maria Island to try some bottom fishing for flat heads and eventually headed back to pick up the nets to see what we caught. I do suffer a lot from sea sickness, but while I was pulling one fish after another, I had no problem. The rest of the time I was standing on the deck a looking at the horizon, it was OK too. But as soon, as they started pulling the nets in, I could not resist and looked down to see what we caught, that was the end of me. I think that a lot of fish had a good feed!
Bicheno is a place our family all loved. With our boys and a Sunwagon we headed every school holiday to Bicheno for at least a week. At that time, Bicheno was a little sleeping fishing village. We could not even buy fresh meet there. But we loved it. The old camping ground close to the beech was run by the council. There were power points, toilets with a cold shower and no rules. We could light a fire there, cook the mackerels we caught by dozens, bring our dog, all was OK. Every morning a man from the council would appear, collected $5 for each site and that was it. And not to forget about Diamond Island, accessible on foot during low tide. The island is full of penguin burrows. We would pull one out for the photo opportunity and put him back. Maybe it is not politically correct these days, but we did it without feeling guilty about it. It was the good old times.
It is not the same any more. Tourist oriented, all about money. I do not like it that much any more.
Few kilometres past Bicheno we came across an animal sanctuary keeping variety of animals, including Tasmanian Devils. George and Venda had not seen one before so it was a great opportunity for them. They both were so happy! Both expected that the first question people would ask after hearing that they had been to Tassie, would be : Have you seen the Devil? Now they can answer: Yes, I did!
For those outside Australia, I would like to say, that the Devil is nothing like the one portrayed in cartoons from Disneyland. The bad image started from the early days, when the explorers and settlers heard them at nights fighting for food amongst themselves. The noise they make is frightening, if one does not see who is making it. And when they start on a corpse of an animal, they leave absolutely nothing left. Bones, fur and everything else ends up in their stomachs. But they are no danger to anybody. Actually they are a lovely animals. Unfortunately they are suffering now from bad case of mouth tumours and are dying in big numbers. There is a big effort being made to save them from extinction.
After covering 79 kilometres today, we settled down at the campground at the Lagoons Beach. Huge ground with many isolated campsites, really great. No wonder that here are dozens of campers enjoying this great bushy location right next to the beach.
The night was very peaceful, long way from the road. The sky full of stars, a very idyllic setting. Morning ride started very well, but it did not take an hour and the head wind started blowing really hard. It made for a slow ans painful progress. Luckily we had only 40 kilometres to St. Helens. I cannot help but wonder what have we done wrong. I do not remember running over a Chinese! When we started in westerly direction, the wind blew from the west. As soon as we turned south, it turned around too and blew from the south. I could hardly believe, that as soon as we turned east it blew from the east too. Once we turned north, we had a couple of wind free days, but now it blows from the north! We could start winging about it, but then again, it could have been pouring, so we still have to consider ourselves lucky.
About 10 kilometres from Scamander we decided with George for him to drive ahead and buy some eggs. We still had some bacon it the fridge and by the time we caught up with him at Scamander, he had already scrambled the eggs with bacon, onion and red capsicum. He even had a glass of wine sitting on the table waiting for me. What a life full of luxuries!
In spite of fighting the head wind, it still took only a couple of hours to get to St Helens. When I saw an ice cream shop, I could not resist and rushed in, ordering a generous portion of three flavours of ice cream, ready to pay $5.50 for it. It would have been worth anytime, but the owner displayed a great deal of generosity and refused any payment from us in recognition of what he described as a great effort for a good cause. What can I say? The name of the shop escaped me, but it is on the corner of the turn off to Binalong Bay. Don't miss is! The ice cream was absolutely delicious.
From St Helens we drove north, away from our route, through Binalong Bay and eventually found a beautiful sheltered and private spot at Swimcart Beach Campground at the Bay of Fires. Absolutely beautiful area.
In the evening we went for a walk to enjoy the beauty and finished the day with a small campfire which we used to bake some potatoes. They were so delicious as well as nice and crunchy with all the ashes included. What a life!
The first visit in the morning was to L.J.Hooker office in St. Helens. It is own by Glenn and Dina McGuiness. Glen was my boss when I was working at the L.J.Hooker office in Burnie 15 years ago. Glenn and Dina are nice and friendly couple, I used to like working with both of them, so it was nice to see them doing well in St Helens and being as nice as before. We spent almost an hour enjoying a lively conversation over a cup of coffee. They also contributed $100 to our collection and after refuelling our campervan we were on the way. It was a lovely morning again, no wind, but ahead of us a lots of huge hills. As soon as we started pushing up the first one, a campervan stop to find out about what we are doing. As many times before, it were German tourists. I sometimes wish to see more Australians to stop and talk to us and make some donations. The Germans were happy to make a donation as soon as they found out what we are doing. The next offer from them was too good to refuse: they offered us a couple of tins of nice and cold beer. How could we refuse. It became so much easier to conker the hills! Soon after another happy moment - a call from Dean from Coast FM for a check and talk about our progress. As always he highlighted the reason for our trip around Tassie. He always reminds listeners that they can make a donation on the website but this time it occurred to me, that many people might not like given their credit cards details over the internet, so I am suggesting, that if someone likes to make a donation, they can draw a cheque to CanTeen and mail it to my home address 10 Amanda Court, Burnie, Tas. 7320. As I always say, we are not the heroes, but the real heroes are the people who make the donations. Without them, we would be wasting our effort for nothing.
The coastal scenery is being replaced with big hills and lush pastures, then thick myrtle forests and pastures again, full of sheep or dairy cows. We did managed a side trip to St Columba Falls, very spectacular, 90 metres high falls. The 10 minutes walk from the car park is just as spectacular with a running creek surrounded by huge ferns, like you do not see very often.
We finished the day camped at the back of a historic and full of character Weldborough Hotel on a lovely grassy area. It was also a good opportunity for a shower and to wash and to dry our clothes. We smell now much better than before!
Weldborough to Burnie
The night was cool and we got up a little earlier than normally. After a quick breakfast as always - Weetbix with cold milk for simplicity, we hit the road. It started with a long downhill so I should have been happy. Instead I was swearing all the way down! Wondering why? It was only 4 degrees and I was freezing! I could not wait to arrive at the bottom and to start claiming the next hill to warm up. But the sun started to rise and by the time I reached the top of the Weld Hill, I was much more comfortable and ready for the next downhill. There were dozens more waiting for us again today. Soon I took off my windcheater a then even my T-shirt, when the temperature reached 29 degrees.
The first settlement we went through was Moorina. It is an aboriginal name and it was supposed to be the name of the sister of Truganini, who was the last Tasmanian Aborigine to die many years ago. Moorina was larger than Derby when the mining of lead was in full swing. There were many Chinese working here, most of them living as single, since they could not afford to bring their wives. How different it is now. The Chinese come with bags of money, buy our mines, and we are working for them!
The next interesting place was Derby, with a lot of history and interesting buildings. Amongst them is the oldest wooden bank building in Australia. It is for sale now, if anyone is interested, you can buy it!
The countryside is changing all the time between pastures and forests, the only thing that remains constant are the steep, long hills.
In the mid afternoon we arrived at Scottsdale and stopped at the Forestry Eco Centre. A very unique building, makes one think of the Leaning Tower of Pisa. Inside it is full of beautiful souvenirs, tourist brochures, Coffee Shop and information about the Forestry Tasmania. I would urge everyone to visit this Centre and to learn the facts about the Forestry Tasmania first class management of our forests. The facts present a very different story from what you hear from the Green groups. We, as Tasmanians, can be very proud of having the best protected and managed forests in the whole World.
We continued towards Launceston 17 more kilometres to a lookout high on the hill with a beautiful view and a very inviting place, including toilets, to spend the night. It is only 46 kilometres to Launceston so we should have no problems to be in Launceston before 3.30 pm to be met by the Lord Mayor in The Mall.
After a much warmer night than expected we left early in the morning. It was a lovely morning, after a short claim we were at the top of the ranges and as expected most of the way it would go downhill. The temperature reached already 2o degrees so I confidently stripped to shorts and t-shirt and started the long, fast ride downhill. It took only a couple of hundred meters to realize my mistake. As I was heading down to the valley, the temperature started dropping rapidly and I was freezing. A tear started to run down my cheek and it got very itchy, but I would not dare to wipe it for fear of losing control and crushing down. There was very little left to enjoy the ride down. When I finally reached the bottom of the hill and George with the campervan, I was in a big hurry to put on my windcheater and keep it on for quite a while to get warm again. But that was the only little drama for me that day. Everything went on smoothly from there on, soon I was riding in shorts only and by 1 pm we were in Launceston. Must not forget the call from Dean from Coast FM (106.1).
Firstly we went to Glen Dhu Caravan Park with the owners letting us stay free of charge. At 2 pm we went to the Brisbane Street Mall to do some fundraising and wait for the Lord mayor to meet us at 3.30 pm as planned.
At 5 pm we left and I must say very disappointed with only few people showing any interest in what we were doing and why, in spite of us pushing the scooter and the unicycle around the Mall all the time and handing out flyers. But we can only do our best.
After five we drove back to the Caravan Park and I did a lap around distributing the flyers. Most people made comments like “well done” but very few did anything else. Well, you can take a horse to water, but you cannot make him to drink.
From Launceston to Burnie
We had only a short trip to Carrick today. I wanted to use the spare time to show George and Venda some interesting parts of Launceston. The first trip was to Cataract Gorge. Weather was fine and the beauty of the Gorge was to see immediately after arrival. Venda was very keen to take a ride on the chairlift with the longest single span in the world. I started running to the other side across the bridge while Venda went to the campervan to pick up his wallet. After waiting for a long time without seeing Venda on the lift, I returned to the other side of the river. George was still waiting there but he had not seen Venda either. Finally we found him sitting in the campervan, looking very unhappy. He lost his wallet! He turned everything inside out in the van, but the wallet was not there. He did not seem to be as upset about the $350 and the credit card as he was about the wallet itself. It was very old, a special present from someone. The sentimental value was greater than any money. We immediately decided to retrace our steps to try to find it. First stop was Hungry Jack, where we bought hamburgers the previous day. As expected, it wasn’t there. The last chance was the Caravan Park. I went to the office to find out if someone might have found it and left it there. No luck either. Meanwhile Venda remembered that the previous evening he took his laptop and claimed a bank behind the Caravan Park to where there was a table and where he wrote his diary. To a great relieve of all of us, the wallet was there. Otherwise it would have ruined the last days for us.
George had another wish for the day before departing for Carrick. He noticed on the map that we too have Perth in Tasmania. He wanted to get a picture at the Perth sign and to send a postcard to his wife from Perth to Perth! It was no problem to fulfil his wish. His greatest amusement was the writing on another sign, advising water restrictions, if the temperature gets above 25 degrees. In “his” Perth there were still experiencing regularly temperatures above 40 degrees!
One interesting encounter happened on the short trip to Carrick. While riding my scooter, a car stopped and a man of about my age ran to me looking very friendly and excited. He knew exactly what we were about. He had spent years pushing a wheelbarrow all over Tasmania raising money for Asthma Foundation. He told me to stop at the pub in Carrick and tell Trudy to pour us beer and that “Cookie” would pay for it tomorrow. I was a bit reluctant to accept his offer, but he insisted, so I promised to do so. But by the time I reached the Hotel, he was already there, making sure, that I do as told! Trudy poured the beer for all of us but would not take any money from Cookie. It was on the Hotel. When Cookie wanted to have another shout, we politely refused. One beer in the middle of afternoon was enough.
From the hotel it was only few hundred metres to the Copper Gallery, where we were invited to stay overnight. The mother of Mirek Marik, the founder of the Gallery, who unfortunately passed away few years ago, was very happy to see us. We have been very good friends for many years.
The Gallery is now own by Mirek’ son Tom Marik with his wife Gail, a very nice and friendly couple with two children. They invited us to their home for a barbecue dinner as soon as Tom finished his work at 5 pm.
It was a great opportunity to have finally a nice meal after living basically from tinned food. Gail prepared all the tasty salads, baked potatoes and desert, while Tom grilled variety of meats on the barbecue in their well designed outdoor kitchen. We had fantastic time with them, but it was time to go back to the Gallery. Before we left Tom and Gail presented us with a cheque for CanTeen for $100, a very much appreciated donation.
Tom’s grandma was already waiting for us and offered to us to sleep in beds instead of the campervan. This was another offer too good to refuse and so we all spent a very comfortable night in beds – the first time since we left home 18 days earlier. Another bonus was being able to depart without changing everything inside the campervan and having breakfast being served to us. Even rain overnight, which continued in the morning, could not spoil the feeling of wellbeing. Thank you so much for the hospitality!
The rain continued all morning, but in the absence of wind a being quite warm I did not care about getting wet. On the way I was hoping to meet the walkers for Clown Doctors on their way to Launceston, with Cadbury and Commonwealth Bank providing the support. I have been taking a part in these walks/runs for several years but missed this one due to this other fundraiser. As I found out they were still in Deloraine, waiting for the rain to ease, while I was riding past Deloraine on the highway. No chocolate Fredos for me this time!
By about midday the rain stopped and it did not take long for me to dry out. But the rain was replaced by wind, and guess what? Head wind as always!
But we had another pleasant stop ahead, so the wind could not spoil our fun. The next stop was Anvers Chocolate factory at Latrobe. The owner Igor Van Gerwen invited us to drop in for a drink of hot chocolate with chilli, the way the old Aztecs used to drink it. I had drunk it before and would recommend anyone to have a taste of it. It is absolutely delicious, with only small amount of chilli just to add a hint of it to the flavour.
Apart from the drink Igor order for us samples of his chocolates. For me, being a chocoholic, it was the ultimate enjoyment. And Igor also packed a parcel of his chocolates to provide more energy for our ride.
We all know how good the Belgian chocolate makers are and in my book Igor is the best of them all. And apart from the chocolates, chocolates Igor brought a container full of donations he organised prior to our arrival. He has been a long time supporter of my fundraiser and I am very grateful for it.
After leaving Latrobe we had still plenty of time to ride closer to Burnie to make the last day easier. We made it to Turners Beach. There was no place near the highway to camp so knowing the area, we left the highway and followed the river to Forth. To our surprise the local football ground was full of campers. There was going to be a music festival the next day and all the campers were in a very good mood. This was a great opportunity to do a lap around the ground, distribute our flyers and let them know what we are about. Their reaction was over whelming, everyone put some money in out tins. It was a very lucky day. When it started to get dark, we drove about a kilometre up the river to a pleasant rest area to spend the night.
But we had no idea what a great surprise was waiting for us the next day. Just when we ready to leave, I received a call from my son Petr, asking where we were and which way we would travel. I was hoping that my grandsons would join us for the last bit of the journey so it was only a small surprise when a car arrived very shortly with both sons Petr and Vlastik as well as the grandsons Danial and Jacob. We all drove to the roundabout at Turners Beach to the same spot we finished our ride the previous night to re start our journey to Burnie. Petr and both Jacob and Danial took their bikes out of the car, while Vlastik was going to follow us. And that’s when the greatest surprise of my life was waiting for me.
From the bushes ahead suddenly a group of people emerged and to my great moment of joy I saw a man on a scooter heading towards me. “I am Shane Crawford” were his words. I am a keen follower of AFL so how I would not have recognised Shane! I could not believe my eyes. What an honour to have such a famous superstar of football joining me on his scooter and telling me, that they have chosen me for their program on Channel 9 TV “Random Acts of Kindness.” As I found out later, Vlastik was contacted by the researcher for the program Jane Grusovin and all the family. Apart from Jo, everyone else knew what was going on.
Shane was riding with me for a while on his scooter, asking variety of questions and he finally stopped, he presented me with another surprise:
“We want to give you a present for your past birthday, so this scooter is yours! Now you have a spare one to finish the ride in the case yours breaks down.” It was another very emotional moment and from there on it never seemed to stop. Half way between Ulverstone and Penguin on the old highway is a lookout overlooking “Three Sisters”, a very lovely spot. That was where they waited for me with another surprise. On a table there was a stack of shoe boxes and running gear. Shane pointed to it with the news, that people from Asics like what I am doing and they decided to provide me every year for 10 years with 2 pairs of Asics Nimbus, my favourite shoes, the only shoes recommended by Sports Medicine of Australia, as well as all new running gear every year as well. I could not hold my tears back anymore. Asics has been so good to me for many years now without seeking any return for it. I hope this gives the opportunity for the public to see how good citizen Asics is and how they support the community.
Shane told me, that he was leaving us now so it was another big surprise when I saw him standing next to the large statue of penguin in the lovely coastal town called Penguin. There was a leather massaging chair and he invited me to sit in it and have a rest, offering a bottle of Gatorade. As well he asked me to sit down, otherwise I would have fallen over when he announced, that this several thousand dollars worth chair was a gift for me from Harvey Norman! More tears followed, I found it hard to believe it.
I know, there are many other people doing a lot to assist those in the community who deserve our support, many of them get no recognition for their efforts. Sure I do not deserve so many rewards for doing what I actually enjoy doing. I feel very humbled.
Realizing, that will not arrive in Burnie on time at 2.30 pm, both Venda and I with our entourage which was enlarged by the arrival on bikes my good friends a great supporters Les and Liz Naunton and Lynne and Keith Price, we pushed hard against the wind. But the adrenalin was playing its role, all seemed to be so easy!
Arriving at the City Council, we all we overwhelmed by the sight of the large crowd waiting for us. There was a choir of students beautifully singing for us, barbecue manned by the Lions Club and dozens of people all cheering us up. And of course, waiting there was my whole family. It was unbelievable. The first thing I did was to grab out little great grandson Wesley and to get a kiss from Jo. During our previous journeys when she always was with me, every day drove ahead and when I caught up with her, I got a drink and a kiss! (Jo does not like me telling this) This time I had to wait 20 days for one. George and I were not interested in exchanges kisses each time I caught up with him!
While the celebration continued, I was told, that they were meanwhile counting the donations and finally the amount was announced – something over $1,000. I knew straight away what happened. I had much more money hidden in the van plus some donations in my “everyday hero” pages. So when I finally added it all up, we raised close to $4,000 including the $500 dollars promised by the Lions Club from the sausage sizzle.
But it was a good mistake. When the $1,000 figure was announced, Shane delivered the final shock: The Commonwealth Bank donated a cheque for $9,000 to make it up to $10,000. My tear just could not stop flowing.
As a result, CanTeen will be better off by close to 13,000. Apart from that, we have spread the message about CanTeen amongst thousands of people and even recruited few new volunteers for CanTeen. There is no doubt in my mind, hat it was worth the effort.
After the welcoming ceremony was over, we went home for a shower and after that the whole family including some friends we met with the crew of “The Random Acts of Kindness” in the Bay View restaurant for a couple of beers. What a feeling, having such a group of very nice and friendly people around, including Shane. I would have never dreamt about to have such an opportunity to meet such a famous person in such a relaxing atmosphere. I might be a Swan supporter, but the Hawks will be my second favourite team from now on. Especially, since they call themselves Tasmanian Hawks.
The crew spend two more days with us, filming, interviewing everyone, visiting local school, picking up good locations for their story. I was amazed with the professionalism of all of them and how every detail was so well planned. I never realized how much effort goes into producing a story for TV. I have now much more admiration for all involved in producing such programs. I am also very happy, that CanTeen will get the needed publicity and Asics, Harvey Norman and Commonwealth Bank will get recognition for supporting our communities. This is very much Australia and I am so happy to be part of this.
Another fundraiser has come to the end. What next? I have an idea, but not sure if I can get it all together. I am thinking of finding someone, who would help to design and build a rickshaw I could pull around Tasmania and then even offer rides for donation on it during various opportunities. I have to keep going for at least another ten years to use the shoes and clothing offered by Asics, don’t I?
Thanks everyone for your support for our fundraisers which will help a lot of young Australians living with cancer to put a smile on their faces. And special thanks to Channel 9 for helping to spread the message much more effectively that what we could do on our own.