by clicking the arrows at the side of the page, or by using the toolbar.
by clicking anywhere on the page.
by dragging the page around when zoomed in.
by clicking anywhere on the page when zoomed in.
web sites or send emails by clicking on hyperlinks.
Email this page to a friend
Search this issue
Index - jump to page or section
Archive - view past issues
Northern NSW : Celebrating 40 years Rescue December2015
An L plater’s diary BY MATTHEW WALLACE, CHIEF ENGINEER, WESTPAC RESCUE HELICOPTER SERVICE. Having worked at the Rescue Helicopter Service for 10 years I have seen many of the charity rides come and go. I’ve witnessed the planning and preparation my colleagues in the marketing team put into these events to ensure everyone returns in one piece, and I was often sceptical of whether those smiles were genuine as they rolled into Newcastle after completing hundreds of kilometres on a bike. Helicopter maintenance flows in peaks and troughs, and often the peak coincides with the annual bike ride. The locality attraction of this year’s Tamworth ride was too great, so I was determined that no peak was going to deny me the chance to see some amazing parts of our country. The 2015 ride was organised by a volunteer committee and led by one of our hardworking Tamworth marketing staff, Michael Wilson. Barry Walton handed the reins to Michael a few years earlier, and I was convinced whatever these two put together would mean fun times, and a good result for the service. Neither would share any insight into what I had really signed up for. I am a keen bike rider and clock up about 70km a week, which I mistakenly assumed was essential preparation for the 2015 Ride for the Chopper. The planned route was distributed and involved an estimated 600km, and supposedly a few hills. A family holiday had me missing day one, which was a local ride via a handful of some of Mudgee’s finest wineries. A community dinner with volunteers, sponsors, and the ride crew followed. Eleven support crew, 70 riders, and I knew no one except my work colleagues. As the night progressed, I realised this was the Tour De Fun, and there was no sign of France anywhere. Ages ranged from 20 to 70s and there was a good mix of male and female riders. All participants raised a set amount of money before starting the ride. Day two started like every other day, clear sunny skies and a beautifully prepared breakfast by the support crew. The customary call ‘fill your water bottles’ by long-serving ride committee man, and lead vehicle driver, Greg ‘Goog’ Davis, and we were off. Time was irrelevant and 80km later we found ourselves in Gulgong, which surprisingly happens to have one of the best Indian restaurants in the country. Now, that distance is far from a direct route, but it never is when you’re on The Ride for the Chopper. Day three had us leaving a beautiful NSW country town listening to another customary item, Eric Idle’s Always Look on the Bright Side of Life. It was clear from the friendships that most riders were repeats. Some days were challenging but there was always someone willing to help yougettotheend.Abigdayin the saddle, 113km had us on a long downhill into Merriwa. Once again we received many cheers of encouragement from the locals all the way to the pub. Day four and we were off to Scone, the thoroughbred capital of Australia. The hills were scarce but a mighty wind funneling through the longest of valleys was an unpleasant surprise. Groups were formed and the stronger riders shielded the old and new mates from the effects of a demoralising wind. We stopped and chatted with local farmers, some working their sheep down the roads. Always a common reply, ‘the helicopter landed over there three weeks ago’. My thoughts often drifted to how long and uncomforting a road trip to the John Hunter would be. These farmers Rescue Magazine CELEBRATING 40 YEARS SPECIAL EDITION 22
Rescue Aut 2016