Canberra brings out the best

By: Warren Aitken , Photography by: Warren Aitken

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The trucking community turned up in force on March 31 to take part in the annual fund-raising Rise Above Cancer Convoy in Canberra

"If it wasn’t for the ‘truckie’ and ‘bikie’ community, Rise Above wouldn’t be here." Those are the words of Melissa Gardner, the CEO of Rise Above, a charitable organisation that looks after and supports nearly 500 families through the turmoil of dealing with Cancer. It’s Melissa’s job to raise the money to assist those families. Her admiration for the transport industry stemming from massive support from the truckies and bikies that has led to the growth of the Rise Above Cancer Convoy.

The Convoy has been going in one form or another for a couple of decades. Rise Above took over the running of the convoy in 2013 and Melissa and her team have grown it from 230 bikes and trucks to nearly five hundred trucks and three hundred motorbikes. As this photo gallery shows, it’s a huge event and it just keeps getting bigger.

Elvin Group driver Mark Johnson (left) and operations manager Ross Scarman. Elvin put in a winning big to snare the lead truck position.

While Canberra is the country’s capital it is by no means the biggest city around and the turnout each year for the convoy and for the cause is a testament to the community spirit that runs deep.

"Canberrians have pretty big hearts," Melissa says. She is not wrong. It wasn’t just the money raised that emphasised her point, the public acceptance of major delays to their roads as well as more than a few enthusiastic air horns throughout the Sunday parade shows how important this fundraising event is to the local community.

Kristy-Lee Morrison brought her dad's W-model to the convoy.

Convoy day, which was held on March 31, turned out to be perfect. Yes, it may have been a little cold for those used to more humid conditions but when you line it up next to the previous day it was damn near tropical. In fact, Sunday’s turnout was even more impressive considering during cleaning day on Saturday, the weather drifted between pouring rain, torrential rain, drizzling rain and rain.

With temperatures floating between ‘polishing in this weather is insane’ and ‘you are a tool, grab a beer and get inside’, hundreds of drivers, families and friends did get out and put in the hard yards. As they rolled into the staging area at 6am on Sunday all the hard work was worth it.

The trip took the convoy from the suburb of Beard, around the city, across the front of Lake Burley Griffin, up Gungahlin Drive and into Exhibition Park. There would have been more than a few drivers and passengers with sore arms after returning the waves of all the fans who turned out to watch.

There was hardly a reprieve for the driver’s air horns and waves as it seemed there were people at every vantage point on the 25km journey. Once the trucks arrived they quickly filled up the showgrounds.

At Canberra's Exhibition Park, the day proved taxing for some.

Drivers and the public were then treated to food and entertainment including performances by Diesel and country rock band Hurricane Fall. Kids had their share of entertainment as well with plenty of rides and activities. Stalls were set up and kept busy all day. Sadly, I can’t really elaborate on what they were selling as I found the food truck with the pulled pork nachos and lost interest in most everything after that.

The bikes, the trucks and the music complemented by the weather topped off another successful year for the Rise Above Cancer Convoy.

For more photos from Canberra's Rise Above Cancer Convoy, see the May 2019 edition of Owner//Driver.

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