The Possum hits the road
On the 13th and 14th of September 2008 at the Tottenham Race Course, the BMW Touring Club of NSW conducted the first Far Cairn Rally.
Tottenham is the closest civilisation to the Geographical Centre of NSW, which is marked by a Cairn, which is quite far from Sydney, hence the name for the rally.
History lesson – In 1965, George Schwarz bought a new R50 BMW, and with his then girlfriend Charis, set off from his home in Switzerland. Twice around the world living off the bike gave George plenty of material for a book. After settling in Sydney, a book titled “Highlights of the Road” was published.
Proceeds from the sale of the book went to establishing the Motorcycle Accident Rehabilitation Initiative (MARI), at St Vincent’s Hospital in Sydney.
MARI is aimed at riders injured to a lesser degree in accidents and collisions. Services include bike recovery, bill repayments, rehab and counselling for depression arising from financial strain due to loss of earning capacity because of broken bones and the like.
George told me “Suicide and self harm after losing a job due to a crash is a real issue.”
A study by Newcastle University has found the services of MARI has had beneficial results for injured riders, with a reduction in self harm amongst riders who have taken up MARI’s services. Using this information, St Vincent’s is most supportive of rolling this initiative out to other hospitals.
The BMWTCNSW is right behind this plan and the rally was a fund raiser to help push for a government grant to expand the program.
120 riders put their hands in their pockets and raised $4000 at the rally for MARI, which Club President Andrew Le Lievre said was a terrific first effort.
The Tottenham Lions Club catered for the evening meal and again for breakfast, while the local servo recorded its biggest Saturday sales ever. The pub did OK, as did the supermarket and bottle shop. The servo never opens on a Sunday, but they did this time, and all appreciated the operator’s efforts (she even sent her son to do the cooking at the Racecourse). The publican from the Rabbit Trap Hotel at nearby Albert has adopted MARI as his charity of choice after learning about it from thirsty riders dropping in.
Getting to and from Tottenham, there is a choice of sealed roads or plenty of dirt for the Adventure Riders. An overnight thunder storm dumped a huge volume of water that resulted in rivers running across roads in places – especially the places I ended up riding through due to a navigation problem. Flowing water up to the footpegs, greasy wet clay and stray livestock all added to the experience.
The 2009 Far Cairn Rally is on 19 September, so if you want a great ride in support of a worthwhile charity, pencil it in now and start planning.
Another plug for BMWTCNSW: their 32nd Karuah River Rally is on again near Dungog from 13 – 15 February 2009.