Home' The Chronicle : Canberra Chronicle 04-11-2014 Contents 7 - Tuesday, November 4, 2014
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Retired pilot makes long, hot ride count
Mark Eldridge has just
ridden 16,000 kilometres
to raise money for
Photo: Matt Bedford
Mark Eldridge had just the bare
essentials on his gruelling
16,000-kilometre, 44-day charity
motorbike ride around Australia.
The retired decorated Royal
Australian Air Force pilot and self-
confessed loner said long days on his
BMW R1200 GS Adventure didn't
But, just in case, he had a
companion in his daughter's polar bear
soft toy Squeege.
"Squeege loved it," he said. "He had
his photo taken at all the sights which
went up on his Facebook."
The trip had been a dream
throughout his career -- one he had the
opportunity to make a reality after
retiring from RAAF after 32 years in
"My wife Vicki and I had our
careers and kids so we thought about
how to contribute," he said.
"My family has been directly and
indirectly affected by depression and
anxiety. Rather than just doing the ride
for fun, it made it a lot more rewarding
to do it for a cause."
Mark said he hoped fewer people
viewed mental illness as a weakness or
a failure and instead recognised it was
"We had a lot of success in our
family, much of which came from a
willingness to be open and honest
about these afflictions," he said.
Rolling out his swag by the side of
the road was the common end to a
day's riding but occasionally Mark
treated himself to some creature
"The best I stayed in was the Cable
Beach resort near Broome," he said.
"I had been riding for three days in
43-degree heat so I got a nice room
which was so relaxing." But
navigating his way across the country
wasn't all smooth sailing. Mark
weathered searing heat, strong winds
and took a tumble in the gulf region
between Queensland and the Northern
"I dropped the bike on the way from
Normanton to Burketown. Hitting the
dirt did some damage ... which meant
I couldn't carry as much gear and had
to leave some of it there."
While touring, Mark said it was
astounding how many people came
forward for a chat about bikes, travel
and their stories about mental illness.
"The highlight of the trip was
talking to people," he said.
Support Mark's fund-raising effort
SHOWGIRL OR BOY
The search is on for the next
Queanbeyan showgirl but judges say
no rules prevent men and boys from
We have never had a man before
but there is nothing to say a man
can't enter,'' Queanbeyan Show
secretary Kim Holden said.
That would be a first for
beyan, but I
to adjust the
ribbon to say
her sash to a
ambassador at the show's opening
lunch on Saturday.
"It's one of those experiences
which is second to none," she said.
"It opens doors and enables you to
develop both personally and
Judges are looking for someone
well presented, who can field
questions on current affairs, their
community and personal ambitions.
Younger age groups can register
on the day, but people vying for the
main title, 18-25 years, should apply
before the close of business on
Tuesday. Contact Ms Holden on
0423 776 199 or email
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