Convoy for Canberra back on the road
FOUR-WHEEL DRIVE: Convoy organisers Robert ''Cowboy'' Gorman and Melissa Gardiner at Abletts Transport in Queanbeyan. Photo: Rohan Thomson
The Convoy for Cancer is returning to Canberra, assembling hundreds of trucks to delight spectators, but is set to irritate Queanbeyan by snubbing that city.
After an absence of several years, the trucks are being marshalled by the Cancer Support Group ACT Eden Monaro's Own to raise money for families affected by cancer.
About 200 trucks and dozens of motorcycles are expected to take part in the run on February 2. Trucks will come from Wollongong, Goulburn and Bega to join the convoy.
There is a new route - the trucks will assemble in Mitchell before heading down the Gungahlin Drive Extension and Tuggeranong Parkway before pulling into a mini-fair to be held opposite Bunnings in Tuggeranong.
Previously the convoy began at Exhibition Park and ended in Queanbeyan, bestowing part ownership of the event on the city. Queanbeyan mayor Tim Overall could not be contacted on Monday but a city council spokesman said residents were disappointed the convoy was not going through the city.
Organiser Melissa Gardiner, who joined the group last year, said reinstating the convoy was one of her highest priorities. The event ran for almost a decade before lapsing due to the organisation's small volunteer base, she said.
''It's all about helping cancer families in Canberra and I think we will get about 200 trucks,'' Mrs Gardiner said. ''It costs them $30 and with that they get a flag and T-shirt and it's a good opportunity to clean their trucks.
''I had a bloke come the other day and said 'the last convoy was the last time I cleaned my truck, so it'll give a good excuse to clean it again'.''
Mrs Gardiner said the group preferred ending the convoy at Tuggeranong with a fair.
''We tried to start it in Queanbeyan but we couldn't come to an agreement with authorities as to which road we were allowed to start it on,'' she said.
Mitchell was subsequently chosen as the start point.
''It's a decision we didn't like making,'' Mrs Gardiner said. ''Hopefully spectators will be lined up from Drakeford Drive on and Canberrans will get right behind it.
''Our focus this year is the festival at the end where there'll be games, rides for the kids, food and live bands who have all donated their time.
''It's going to be like a mini-carnival and that's why we picked Tuggeranong because we will get a lot of walk-by traffic there.''
The Queanbeyan City Council spokesman said the convoy was an excellent way to raise money and awareness for cancer. ''It's disappointing it will not be coming through Queanbeyan this year,'' he said.
''Queanbeyan City Council offered the organisers access to the Queanbeyan Showground as their marshalling point … The showground was the only location council had available which could handle the number of vehicles expected to take part in the convoy, however it appears that this location was not suitable for the organisers.''
A recent cancer convoy in Wollongong raised $110,000 through an auction by truck owners for the privilege to lead the cavalcade, Mrs Gardiner said.
Up to $10,000 has been paid by a truck owner in previous years to lead the convoy in Canberra, she said.