Home' Defence Magazine : Issue 6 2010 Contents 43
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THE LAST WORD
Three motorcycling mates with various links to the Australian Defence Force completed what they
dubbed ‘The Long Ride’ from Sydney to Darwin earlier this year. With the aim of raising money for
the Prostate Cancer Foundation of Australia, Navy Reservist Lieutenant Commander Peter Schilling,
and his mates Chris Osborn and Rob Biggin rode more than 9000 kilometres in seven days.
Defence Magazine caught up with Peter after the ride for a debrief.
1. With the ride being to raise
money and awareness of prostate
cancer, how have you gauged its
success? Did you achieve your
There was no set financial target for the ride. The
intention was to raise as much money as possible.
The ride raised approximately $240,000 which
was considered outstanding by the organisers,
Chris and Gail Dunne. Chris is a Reservist in the
This was the third ride organised by Chris and
Gail. The first was in 2007 in support of the Royal
Flying Doctor Service, Australia. This event
raised $50,000. The 2008 ride travelled to Perth in
support of prostate cancer and raised $20,000. It is
rumoured that the next ride will be to Alice Springs
During the ride Chris contacted a number of news
media in reference to gaining publicity and raising
When the ride arrived in Darwin, ABC Statewide
interviewed four of the riders who had been
treated for prostate cancer. I watched Statewide
when it was broadcast and I was very impressed
with the questions asked by the ABC and the
rider’s responses. The basis of the message
was: get a PSA test done and possibly a physical
examination of the prostate gland.
2. What was the driving force
behind doing the ride, and is this
the first time you’ve made such an
This was the first time I had attempted a ride of
this length. In my younger days, I have ridden from
Nowra to Melbourne a few times when travelling
between home and my ship.
My riding mate, Chris Osborn (ex-Army), and I
had been talking about riding around Australia
for a couple of years and we thought that a ride
to Darwin would be a good training run to see if
we could we get along with each other for the full
round Australia trip? Who was going to disturb
who with our snoring?
There were actually three riders from the ACT in
our group. The third member was Rob Biggin (an
ex National Serviceman) who currently works for
DFAT. It turned out Rob and I snored the loudest
and I had to supply Chris with a set of ear plugs.
Chris is in his late 50s and I am in my early 60s.
Chris was diagnosed with prostate cancer some
3-4 years ago so we have both had concerns
regarding prostate issues.
and paid for in advance. So these issues did not
create any challenges.
5. What kind of support did you
receive from communities, and
also Defence, plus were there any
I circulated notices about the ride and requested
financial sponsorship through my caravan club,
amongst work colleagues and via the DRN
classifieds. The response was very quick and very
satisfying. My main source of sponsorship was
through my Everyday Heroes website. I raised a
total of $3,282 in personal and online donations
and Defence people contributed $412.
Every day was a memorable event. Meeting such
a diverse range of people from all over Australia
was memorable. To ride such long distances in one
day is memorable. You know you are in outback
Australia when you pull out of your motel and turn
north and your GPS tells you that your next turn is
The most memorable moment of the ride was our
departure from Tennant Creek just on day break.
We rode out through the gap, the sun was coming
up on our right and lighting up the hills and road
side on our left. The colour of the orange earth and
all the different greens of the roadside foliage in
the first still hour of the day was magical.
6. What was the greatest piece of
support/advice you received before
or during the ride?
Everyday Chris Dunne stressed that the ride was
not a race. Travel at the speed you are most
comfortable with, remember there are some
3. What route did you take from
sydney to Darwin?
The route for the ride was: start at Glenbrook
(01May10) – Nyngan – Charleville – Longreach
Winton – Mt Isa – Tennant Creek – Katherine –
Chris and I rode home via Adelaide and the Great
Ocean Rode (just as a small side trip). In the 22
days we were on the road Chris covered 9,400km
and I rode 9,200km. Not sure how the difference
occurred because we rode everywhere together.
One explanation could be Chris was riding on the
outside of the lane and I rode on the inside.
4. What were the greatest
challenges along the way?
I am an insulin dependent diabetic on an insulin
pump and had to carry extra insulin. I towed a
trailer which contained a small WAECO fridge/
freezer which kept my insulin at the required
temperature and half a dozen beers cold (for the
end of the day’s ride). The biggest challenge was
to find a motel/cabin refrigerator that worked
properly. In the end, I had to take my WAECO into
the room each night to ensure that the required
temperature was maintained for my insulin.
The ride was extremely well organised with all
accommodation and some evening meals booked
sections with considerable distances between
petrol supplies, keep yourself well hydrated, be
careful when passing road trains travelling in
either direction, and above all, enjoy yourselves.
7. What is one thing we should all
know about prostate cancer?
According to the Australian Institute of Health
and Welfare, prostate cancer is the most common
cancer diagnosed in Australia (except for non-
melanoma skin cancers) and the second greatest
cause of cancer deaths in men. It is estimated that
more than 18,700 new cases have been diagnosed
Tragically, more than 2,900 Australian men each
year die from prostate cancer. In the early stages,
there are few symptoms of prostate cancer,
however if detected early, prostate cancer is
often treatable and curable. This is why men aged
50 and over, or 40 if there is a family history of
prostate cancer, should not wait for symptoms;
they should talk to their doctor about prostate
cancer – a simple blood test and possibly a rectal
examination could save a man’s life.
8. Would you do the ride again?
You betcha. Just give me an hour to pack and hook
up the trailer.
LeFT: LCDR Peter Schilling on the road between Winton and Mt Isa in Queensland during The Long Ride. RIgHT: The riders during a roadside police breath test near Avon Downs in the Northern Territory.
LeFT: A couple of
standard road trains
during a brief stop
and Tennant Creek in
the Northern Territory.
RIgHT: Peter (left) and
his riding mate Chris
Osborn at Barcaldine
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