Reflections of a Ride completed

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Day 23 Ride Report Friday 24 Feb 1012


Day 23 Ride Report Friday 24 Feb 2012


A 6am start as the fog rolled in over the lake meant my tent went away damp, although I will be home tonight and it  will be aired properly then. The air temperature had dropped to 7 degrees this morning and the run to Williamsdale via Kiandra and Adaminaby was brisk and intermittently foggy. It was a shame I couldn’t wait until the sun warmed the morning but the ride through this area was thrilling just the same.

I met Rob and Karen  who had ridden from Bungendore to Narooma the first day at Williamsdale and we made our way to the Legislate of Assembly for the 2012 Chief Minister’s annual awards which marked the end of this year’s ride.

I was the recipient of the Inaugural Terry Connolly Award for Community Awareness Raising. It was a humbling experience and greatly appreciated. Terry Connolly was a former Attorney General and ACT Supreme Court Justice and a tissue donor following his sudden death  in 2009.

Award recipients were not given the opportunity to enunciate their gratitude so I will do so now:

                Distinguished guests and friends. Thank you Gift of Life Incorporated for this great honour.

               I do what I do for two reasons:

 1.   I try to help the 1700 folk on the transplant list to get what  they need to continue living a decent, productive and pain free life by raising awareness of their plight and the need for more people to register as organ donors and to ensure their  family are aware of their decision, and

2.    To  honour my Daughter  Melody whose  decision to be an organ donor saved three lives.

Along the way again this year I met many recipients, all of whom are truly grateful for the gift of life they had received at the hand of others who were not so fortunate. I also met folk who still live in hope.

Whie I still have the strength to assist the Organ and Tissue Authority, Donatelife and the many regional coordinators who have helped me so much again this year to publicise the message  of organ donation registration, I will continue to raise awareness in the community Across Australia.

While travelling in Victoria with some hardened bikers, they christened me ‘John The baptist’ as they likened me to someone travelling in the wilderness gathering true believers to the cause. At one time there were 30 or 40 bikes thundering along behind me. I don’t pretend to be so righteous; I just do what I can because many on the transplant list will die without the gift of life a transplant provides.

I am currently organising rides for the middle of the year in support of the Westmead Hospital Youth Road Trauma Forum in Sydney and the Transplant Australia Games in Newcastle in October. As details are finalised they will be added to my website .

Thank you Gift of Life, The Organ and Tissue Authority, Donatelife and the many regional coordinators, media liaison officers and bikers who have helped me along the way. I wish also to acknowledge the help and understanding of the media without whose help the message may not get to those who may have doubts about the importance of becoming a registered organ donor.

Thank You.

As this year’s odar  project comes to a close, I wonder what I can do to ensure my next project is more successful. I think it is time to target more secondary colleges in my itinerary as the impression I got from the 250 students  I addressed at Tallangatta this year was one of genuine interest.

Until next time, thank you all for your interest and support.

Sincerely, David ‘John The Basptist’ Gough..


Day 22 Ride Report Thursday 23 Feb 2012

Day 22 Ride Report Thursday 23 Feb 2012

I am greatful for having a good mate Patrick who is a double lung recipient I met last year riding with me today. He arrived last night and intends joining the odar travelling circus until Tallangatta. Patrick and Faye his wife gave me a ‘guardian bell’ for my bike last year  and it may have kept me safe or perhaps that has been my princess looking out for me, either way I am grateful.

First up today is a run to the studios of 8-20 star FM at Albury with Jane of donatelife and then on to the ‘water tower’ in Wodonga for a session with  Prime TV. There we met  up again with Jane, Katie and Annie plus bikers; Colin (kidney recipient), Ronyn (liver recipient), Bob, Henry, Macka, Des, Eddie, and  the Deputy Mayor. We all left soon after for a morning tea at the hospital where I gave a talk to staff and met more grateful recipients plus a lady whose three  grand children await transplants.

Colin and Ronyn led Patrick and I on a scenic run to Tallangatta Secondary College before bidding us goodby.  I addressed 245 students from years 10, 11, and 12 who seemed to me to be very interested in what  I had to say. Patrick also told his story and we were assisted with technical details by Jane from Donatelife  and Linda, the College Nurse.

I said  goodby and left on my own to make my way to Corryong where I  Ieft details of the ride under the door as the newspaper, the Corryong Courier was closed for the day.

 I headed into the  High Country and let the big beemer run free through this magnificent  piece of the Snowy Mountains and  felt at one with the curvy road that snakes it’s way through the trees. I had  intended to get to Cooma and stay in a pub but after many stops to photograph the beautiful and unique area I decided to camp finally by a pristine lake and strike out for Cooma and Canberra in the morning. I was at home in my modest but spiritually fulfilling campsite.

After the tent and bedding was organised, my barbequed meal and beer in the tranquillity of the high country dusk was a fitting last overnight stop.


Day 21 Ride Report Wednesday 22 Feb 2012

Day 21 Ride Report Wednesday 22 Feb 2012

 Yesterday we stopped at ‘The Big Koala’ but didn’t have the time for anything but a picture. It saddens me in a way as I ride  around not being able to linger but tourism is not why I do what I do. As a late comer to this important cause, I am driven to make every opportunity count  to raise awareness for those who still await the gift of life a transplant brings count while I can

.An early start to check emails and clear my head was the  first order of the day  and my first commitment is an 8-45am meet with Ulysses riders near Castlemaine for a ride in to Bendigo where donatelife coordinator Damien Hurrell has organised a function in Bendigo.  I cannot thank these  highly trained nursing professionals enough for including me in their donatelife week activities. I see my role as an advance publicity device for attracting media coverage to the donatelife week activities and  then as donatelife week progresses, my role switches to that of support and I am completely comfortable with that. I never attempt to raise money and will not accept it as I have been offered several times during this and previous ride but direct people, should they wish to give money, to Transplant Australia. That said it was suggested that I make T shirts and helmet stickers available on my web site but all profits go direct to Transplant Australia and nothing passes to my hands.

As I was leaving Ray the owner of the caravan  park looked longingly at the bike and itinerary map for the current ride. Don’t worry Ray your time will come.

The morning was a crisp 12 degrees as the sun shone through the trees on the approach to Castlemaine. The big boxer engine was purring like a cat ready to pounce and when it doesn’t have the burdon of the trailer hitched it certainly does.

I eventually met up with Ulyssians Jenny, Reg, Tony, Pat, Don, Ron, Whiskers, Neil, Lindsay, Les, Tony, Shane and Russel of the local club and rode to the media event organised by Damien Hurrell senior nurse of donatelife Bendigo. There I spoke with Hanna from the Bendigo Advertiser. And WIN TV.

We left soon after and at Heathcote I conducted another interview with Bronwyn from the  McIvor Times.

Next stop after I left the guys at Heathcote enjoying cake and coffee under an awning was a donatelife afternoon tea at Shepparton Hospital. Funny, I don’t remember lunch! There I gave an interview  with a young lady from Weeknight of channel 10 TV, Matt of ABC radio Shepparton and the Shepparton Newspaper the name of which escapes me. At this event I met David who was a single lung recipient and his wife. They both understood  what drives me to do what I do without payment, unlike others who start and run foundations to provide themselves with an income. I find this practice abhorrent.

Next up was a visit to Ali-lite trailers in Wangaratta for a tow-bar strut modification to allow the trailer to run flatter and hopefully minimise the sway at speed.

When this was dione I attended the donatelife ‘Splash for Life’ function at the local pool organised by Cath and Annie of donatelife and supported by my new mate up from Melbourne Katie Hall who has been helping me sooooo much with the Victorian media events this year. While there I cought up with blind recipient Kyle who I met last year and his Mum. I was pleased to meet the Mother of a jockey, Adrian who had been a donor and recipients Janet and Glenda who told me their stories. I also conducted an on air interview with the announcers from Edge 102.1FM who were doing an outside broadcast at the pool for the event and Steve Kelly of the Wangaratta Chronicle. AFL footballer Ben Reid of Collingwood was also in attendance.

So many people touched by tragedy but at the same time so much new life given by the sacrifice of others made possible by the   simple act of Discovering the facts about organ donation, deciding to register as an organ donor and discussing that wish with family so that wish can be  respected.

A room at the Hotel Pinsent and a computer session before my task is completed for the day and a rest to make ready for my last full day of press hounding and spreading the word about  organ and tissue donation. 


Day 19 Ride report Tuesday21 Feb 2012

Day 19 Ride Report Tuesday 21 Feb 2012

Tuesday started with a short ride down to the Ornamental Lakes area in Mildura for a Donatelife Walk arranged by Ros Roberts, a lady I first met last year. Roger, a kidney recipient who I also met last year was there for the walk and it was great to catch up with him. Also to my surprise my new mate Jon who had ridden from Ballarat to Geelong with me last week. What a guy! He decided to ride up from Ballarat to ride with me to Maryborough. While there I addressed the crowd and participated in the walk. I figured if I was to have a heart attack where better to have it than in Ros’s company as she is ICU trained. (Jo from Melbourne can give me mouth to mouth anytime!) A really nice guy, Mat Man from the Sun 9.79 FM radio station who was doing an outside broadcast and marks a strong resemblance to Bart Simpson but with a much better voice and  personality interviewed both Ros and myself. Also WIN TV turned up to support the event and I found myself in front of the camera again.

About 9am Jon and I took off for Rainbow to hound the press again but on the way we stopped at a very strange contraption called Lizzie, exhibited in a park. This magnificent beast was a cross between an early 1900’s tractor but in enormous proportions, a mad scientist’s interpretation of a giant’s all terrain vehicle and a very early rendition of a monster truck any 1800’s farmer would love to own. You are not going to believe this offering in my upcoming, ‘the things you see’ photo file  I will be uploading when I get home.

We rolled into Rainbow, the gateway to the Mallee originally named Rainbow Rise but shortened by the railway department in 1899. I wanted to visit Rainbow because Melody loved rainbows hence the visual theme running through my website and found Lauren from the Rainbow Argus newspaper to be very cooperative. Also was Jenny from the Dimboola Banner.

I found the Mallee country interesting but didn’t see any Mallee fowls which are protrected and travelling through the Grampians was a delight.

Warracknabeal was up next and we found Nicole and Bethany the photographer of the Warracknabeal Herald most interested as was Ted OÇonnor of the Wimmera mail Times in Horsham.

Not to be out-done the Charming journalist whose name escapes me from the Ararat Advertiser arranged Peter Pickering a zany photographer and thoroughly nice and talented guy if ever I saw one took some shots in front of the beautiful Ararat Town Hall.

As we were running very late a quick blast to Maryborough was in order where Sam Gowers from the Maryborough Advertiser did the necessary before we headed for my 3-30pm talk at 5pm at the hospital.

To my surprise and pleasure Jon’s charming wife Michelle and their great kids joined us at the Maryborough Hospital where I gave a talk to some staff members including CEO Glenis,  Executive Director of Nursing - Fiona, Louise  -Director of Community Services, Jean – Board of Management,  Ian – cancer care committee member, Moree – After hours Coordinator, Denise – Health Service Reference member, And Marjorie and Kristen who are Executive Assistants. Jon and his family were also present and I found the group very interested in what I had to say.

Next stop was Ray’s ‘Golden Country Motel, villa and caravan park and as a fellow Ulyssian he shaved something off the bill.

It’s now 10pm and it’s time for my baked beans on instant noodle offering, the first meal of the day.

More tomorrow folks.

Day 18 Ride report Monday 20 Feb 2012

Day 18 Ride Report Monday 20 Feb 2012

As Jan and Glen left for work early, so did I. With Jan’s help and my GPS I managed to find myself to Gawler Hospital for a morning tea with Kylie, Daniel and Jessica from Donatelife and hospital staff and contacted the Gawler Bunyip newspaper for an interview and they attended soon after. I departed for Renmark and an interview with Caitlid and photograph by Will from the Murray Pioneer.

Next stop was an impromptu interview with editor of the River News at Waikerie and a shot of the bike in front of a lovely old riverboat moored on the Murray river.

As I passed through the Mallee country I marvelled at the changing display of nature’s wonder.

Unfortunately the ‘Big Orange’is no more but I photographed an old train carriage just for Phillip, one of my new mates at CMA SA.

I met CMA rider Noel a short distance away from Mildura on his beautiful yellow Can am Spyder and he led me into town and to the Sunraysia Daily for a very innovative photo session down an alley near the office.

I greatfully accepted an offer of a bed at Noel’s home with Kaye his lovely wife and they delivered me to the South Mildura Rotary club dinner where I spoke to a gathering of twelve Rotarians, Donatelife coordinator Ros and her husband Neil, Donatelife Ambassador, Jo from Melbourne who was in town to assist Ros, Shane a brave young polo player who was a double lung recipient who had recently completed an 800km horse ride to raise awareness for donatelife and cystic fibrosis sufferers and Shanes parents, campaigners Julie and Ray.

It was a pleasant evening but I gratefully headed for my lap-top session and bed as I had a Donatelife walk at 7-30am next morning and a fairly full day again.

Day 17 Ride Report Sunday 19 Feb 2012

Day 17 Ride report Sunday 19 Feb 2012

After a restful night in a comfy Port Wakefield caravan park cabin I rose early to try to get on Ian McNamara’s nation-wide show,’ All Over Australia ’to talk about organ donation week and my ride and did so before I left. I found Ian ‘Macka’ MacNamara to be very interested in what I am doing to raise awareness for donatelife and genuinely concerned for those 1700 or so who still await that precious gift of life. My call  to this influential broadcaster was inspired by a new mate Adam Gilmore from Raleigh on the north coast near Bellingen, where another mate,   Jan Carter bases her Save The Brumby charity. The time I first met Adam, his wife Shireen and his delightful family I was on my first Odar run primarily around NSW. He was desperately awaiting his liver transplant and I was honoured to visit him in RPA Hospital in Sydney a few days after he had finally received his transplant. What a special family!

I made my way to the home  of  CMA Members Jan and Prentice at Parafield Gardens in the northern suburbs to drop off the trailer, and soon after Jan and I made our way to the 2012 Rose Planting Ceremony at the Gift Of Life  Garden in Bonython Park. The relief of not having to lug the trailer around for a while had a marked effect and the bike reacted like a spooked stallion when I twisted the throttle. So much so in fact that I very nearly stood the beemer on it’s rear tyre. Jan had decided to accompany me on her bike to the Rose planting ceremony to commemorate the gifts of donors and which officially marked the start of donatelife week for SA and I was hard pressed to keep up with her dynamic riding style.

The ‘Donor Family Reflection’r composed and delivered by Mrs Tonia Arbucci-Smith about her Mother Angela was touching and articulate. It was obvious that here was a family in which love flourished.

The ‘Recipient Reflection’ delivered by Doctor Kingsley Whittenbury, a cystic fibrosis sufferer was moving in the extreme. He is a learned man who  has, with the gift of lungs from a stranger, returned to his vital vocation and indeed intends to take his studies  to PHD level to benefit his patients further.

Mr Steven Cavallo, Chairman of Transplant Australia SA/NT branch, himself a transplant recipient then addressed us and it was obvious Transplant Australia was in good hands in Victoria.

The beautiful Gift of Life Garden at Bonython Park is situated near the old Adelaide Jail; I felt right at home!

After the ceremony Jan pointed me in the right direction toward Victor harbour where members of CMA (Christian Motorcycle Association) had planned to stop for lunch after the annual ‘Ridden On Ride’ service of remembrance. When I turned up it looked like a motorbike ‘Show and Shine’ show with all the makes and modified rides represented in their various guises. I met up with about a dozen CMA riders and joined them for an ice cream on the grass. As some of Wendy’s ‘lime and lemon’ ran down my arm in the sun, I pitched the donatelife cause to anyone who would listen.

We returned to Para Field Gardens for the night via the beautiful Adelaide Hills, Glen ‘the mad man’ Prentice led the way with the rest of us barely able to keep up with his big Yammie. Other mounts included Honda, Suzuki, Aprilia, and Harley Davidson but the ride of choice amongst the  discerning of our group was BMW. The riders were Glen, Phillip, Tony, Derrick, Simon, Dave, Richard, Dane  and me.

A lovely meal by Jan and after some spirited conversation about the inadequacy of the Indian Cricket team  and I dragged out the laptop for this instalment.

What a pleasure and privilage to share the lives of these folk if only for a little while.

Day 16 Ride Report Saturday 18 Feb 2012

Day 16 Ride Report Saturday 18 Feb 2012

‘Welcome Home’ Martin the bushie who runs the place said when I was booking in to Radekas; it’s that kind of place and strangely I feel the same about the Territory as a whole even though I had only been there for such a short time and seen so little of it. I will be doing my utmost to stay for a while during the Ulysses 2014 AGM and explore this fine land further. I definitely had mixed feelings about leaving but leave I must.

The air was still and cool at 29.5 degrees and I stopped at the edge of town for a sunrise shot of the bike against a magnificent backdrop of colour and mining equipment. Another traveller did the same.

A group of black emus legged it across the road and I only just managed to get the windscreen mounted video camera working in  time….I think! With this helmet cam you don’t get to see your shots until you download them to your computer.

I stopped for a snack ‘a bit up the road ’ which is Territorian for anything under 200km and retrieved my ‘Magic Scarf’ from my fridge to protect my neck and face as the  sun was making itself felt. These tubular scarfs are the business in heat and cold.

I was amused to read the sign on the stern of a caravan; ‘Don’t know where we’re going, don’t know when we’ll get there!’- my kind of  people!

A    While later I drove across a  designated RFDS emergency runway marked on a section of the Highway. While I was speaking to RFDS staff in Alice springs they told me highway landings are about the best they get !apart from when they land at airfields. Man what dedication.

2-30pm found me back in Pt. Augusta waiting for a press appointment I had confused with one at Renmark but I caught up with the photographer who covered my first Pt. Augusta event but it seems some of the subjects were wearing sun glasses and the paper wouldn’t use the shots so we went out the Pt. Augusta RFDS base and re shot them there. I guess the heat has fried my brain and I am more vague than normal.

I Struggled through my annual KFC meal and hit the road again. I settled for a cabin in the council owned caravan park, got out of my road gear and headed for the nearest pub.                                                                                            

Day 15 Ride Report Friday 18 Feb 2012

Day 15 Ride Report Friday 18 Feb 2012

I reluctantly bid my hosts in Alice Springs, Shirley and Ross goodby at 6-30 as  I had a 692  kilometre day ahead of me to get to my Coober Pedy overnight stop. As I rode through the gap in one of the beautiful rock formations that geologically make Alice Springs so unique it occurred to me that here Australia has a place where nature has taken the time to  create art out of rocks, plants and space that is unique. To anyone who visits or doesn’t but moans about the ‘hot, boring, flat and dusty scrub’. Come out here and look. If you open your eyes and see the unique beauty  that abounds in this special place you cannot help but  leave uplifted as here is a magical example of what a holy spirit can create when it is so inclined. I wonder why we insist on marking our territory all the time by laying down smelly  grey track to ferry ourselves around on in comfort and rope off bits of it with angry strands of wire just to make the point that we can posses such a resource that was meant for us to use but not to abuse. In the words of Paul Hogan in one of his movies, ‘Owning land is like two fleas arguing who owns the dog they live on’.

Typical of the desert, the morning air was sharp but clear and the big beemer boxer engine  hummed with content.

I was thankful as I was passed the turn-off to Ularu that the sun was to my left as the early morning grazing habits of the wildlife here make it dangerous to all concerned. The temperature was rising steadily and it was likely to be a warm day. At one of my many comfort stops at the SA NT border I met Martin and  Cara from Germany and ‘Blinky’ their  red kelpie pup they were intending to take home when they left. Blinky was wary of me until I took my big white ‘head’ off but then we became mates; how nice! I  met a couple of Canadians at Marla where I stopped for some butt blister relief, Martin and Patrick who talked about a three wheel bike they build in Canada which has a very low go-cart like feel to it. Those Canadians- they certainly are innovators. I recounted my experience watching Christine handle her beautiful red Can Am on the road with such expertise. While there I touched base with Terry back in Canberra who, as a media man from way back, was in my corner setting up media opportunities.

The heat mounted steadily reaching 42-5 degrees  and I was feeling the heat rising up from the road through my boots and was very thankful that this machine was fitted with oil cooled heads and an oil cooler mounted high behind an air scoop at the bow.

It was fascinating  to note that all folk  I met were interested in Australian organ donation policy here and in the subject itself.

As I motored into Coober Pedy the sensor on the bike reached a record for this trip of 44 degrees. I was thankful the days run was over. I collected my opals at Theo’s Seven Stones jewelry shop and I was overwhelmed at this man’s tasteful ability. Next stop was to book in to Radekas underground motel and pack-packers hostel and finish arranging media for coming days set in place by Bronwyn the media liaison guru from SA.

Tonight’s noodle meal was sustaining but not nearly as the snitzel feed shouted last night by Ray and his charming wife Carol.

Day 13 Ride Report Thursday 16 Feb 2012

Day 13 Ride Report Thursday 16 Feb 2012

After a great sleep, Andrea and Michelle collected me for a 7-40am on- air interview with Lachie of 740 Sun Radio Alice Springs. It was great. He filled in the organ donor registration form on air to Willy Nelson’s ‘On The Road Again’, and gave it to Angela to forward on to the Australian Organ Donor Register in Hobart Tas. With Andrea and Michelle’s help it was a very memorable interview.

I returned to Ross and Shirley’s for a while before I rode the bike to the joint studio shared by  Sun FM and 8HA, this time was with Adrian Renzi.

While there I spoke to Sally Brooks Journalist of the Centralian Advocate who said she would be utilising images shot on my ride in by their photographer Justine. Andrea and Michelle had brought along Margaret who was an indigenous Kidney recipient. She was charming. It was a poignant reminder that while organ donation can effect any Australian it can have such a positive outcome. Margaret had been sentenced to kidney dialysis for far too long.

Next  stop was the Royal Flying Doctor Service where Andrea had arranged via Charlie,  the Media Liaison Officer from RFDS Headquarters a photo session for us.

Upon arrival we had the opportunity to discuss what we were doing with Michael Toomey RFDS PR manager. As it happened a filmmaker who had worked at the BBC, Grenville Turner, was very keen to film  an interview with all of us. This filming when edited will become part of an interactive ‘portal’ to be included in the new multi million dollar RFDS tourist centre. WHAT AN HONOUR. I intend adding a link to the RFDS on my website and would encourage Australians who care to factor the RFDS into their wills.

As the temperature climbed to 42.5 degrees we headed for the famous ‘Ghan’ train which was named after the original Afghan cameleirs who transported goods from the rail head at Oodnadatta to Alice which originated as an overland telegraph repeater station.

At 3pm I was privileged to speak on air to tutors, parents, and some students on the School of The Air arranged by Andrea through Assistant Principal Bill Newman a  thoroughly nice guy. I applaud the passion of these talented , dedication, professionals. After, we were given a tour of this incredible facility and I would encourage everyone who can to support the amazing school.

We met RFDS Visitor centre manager Leslie and had a very illuminating discussion. Then returned to Ross and Shirley’s place for a break before a 7-30 meal with at the local club with Andrea, Michell, and a group of Ulysses club members.

It was a great way to finish my stay in Alice as members were interested in engaging in a discussion about organ donation.

A very early start tomorrow for the long ride to Coober Pedy to collect some items of jewery being made for me by Theo of 7 stones in Coober Pedy.