Commit to Community Radio

Commit to Community Radio

Community Radio across Australia gives voices to many that the mainstream media aren’t interested in. Whether it’s the music you enjoy listening to, the opinions that won’t be voiced elsewhere, those whose ideas don’t fit into neat commercial packages or just those who aren’t big enough or important enough for their stories to be considered interesting for those outside of their local community. Often community radio is one of the things that knits a community, whether it is a geographically located community or a one that is knitted together by radio itself.

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3CR Community Radio station in Melbourne, the station which hosts the Yarra BUG Radio Show, is one of these stations, but there are many more across Australia and they are all reliant on government funding to remain on air. Most stations rely on volunteers, and donations and subscriptions from listeners but still need funding to broadcast.

The Commission of Audit has recommended scrapping funding for the Community Broadcasting Program. If adopted by the Government in the upcoming budget, community radio stations could be forced off air. If you enjoy listening to community radio, in any shape or form, or even if you don’t, but believe it is important that it not only be commercial imperatives that decide what we listen to, then consider emailing Treasurer Joe Hockey to commit to keeping community radio stations on air.

Nothing’s crook in Tallarook

Nothing’s crook in Tallarook

Tallarook was the starting point for our very first ever three day ride with The Flipster. It’s only one hour from Melbourne, or slightly less, whether that’s by train or car, and as the starting point for the Great Victorian Rail Trail there was nothing crook about it at all.

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The Great Victorian Rail Trail is 120-ish kms of connected off road riding running from Tallarook to Mansfield via Yea and Yarck. With towns spaced at quite small distances along it, often twenty or thirty kms (sometimes less) it makes a great trail to try with kids, or even just to ride yourself when you really can’t be fussed doing much planning or carrying.

(I’m writing a much more detailed breakdown of the trip which you can download if you’re interested in the logistics. Check back for an update in a week or so)

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But for now, lets focus on the sunshine, the devonshire teas, the cold beers, the flat tyres, the best spaghetti, the coffee, glorious days outdoors and the simplicity of getting up everyday and only having to ride.

great-Victorian-Rail-Trail-punctures

Briefly, we rode from Tallarook to Yea, Yea to Yarck and then Yarck to Bonnie Doon over three days. We abandoned the last stage to Mansfield as we discovered the Flipster’s limitations over the first few days.

We discovered the Flipster can average 30-35kms per day and still enjoy the ride, that, with stops, you need to plan for an average of 10kms per hour, and that it helps if you get up early and ride your daily thirty-ish kms before midday and the 30+ temperatures.

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We also discovered that it is possible to ride excruciatingly slow up a large hill, the Merton Gap, with a whingy ten year old and have all forgotten about it by the time you spin down the other side.

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We didn’t want to be bothered carrying stuff so took one change of clothes each carried in one bag that the Dutchman and I took turns in carrying. We ate all of our meals at pubs, cafes and general stores. Because of the relatively small distances between towns this was easy and meant we didn’t have to worry about carrying food etc. It was our version of credit card touring.

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We rode our city bikes; a single-speed Surly Steamroller, an eight speed custom built commuter and the Flipster’s first road bike. All had their usual city tyres.

Great-Victorian-Rail-Trail-Yarck-Hotel

We stayed at the Yea Motel and the Yarck Pub, having made reservations beforehand, since it was a long weekend. Both were pretty basic, well actually the pub was extremely basic, but fine for one night and had excellent food!

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And at the end of our ride we called Mark Spencer of  Rail Trail Bike Tours to come and pick us up and take us and our bikes back to our car at Tallarook. But not before having a beer.

If you’d like to hear what the Flipster thought about it check out this podcast.

 

Sunshine and bicycles

Sunshine and bicycles

CycleSalute_Patch2PatchBeechworth is one of my favourite spots in NE Victoria. I’ve had a soft spot for the High Country since I was a child and looooong summer holidays at my grandparent’s place in Tangambalanga were relieved by day trips to Beechworth, Omeo and Mt Beauty.

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North East Tourism invited us up recently to check out some of the activities on as a part of Cycle Salute, three weeks of bike fun for all sorts of riders. After the freezing gusty spring we’ve been having in Melbourne it was lovely to spend a whole weekend in glorious weather re-living what a fabulous area this is for all sorts of riders.

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Saturday we spent on the Patch to Patch Pedal, armed with a map and details of nine local homes opening their veggie gardens to riders. Checking out what other people are doing in their veggie patches was a lovely way to spend the day, some also had bees and chickens so there was lots to compare, ideas to steal, fences to admire and gates to kick.

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Late afternoon we set out for Tarrawingee on the Murray to Mountains Rail Trail, surely one of the best bike paths in the world, for dinner. We passed birds, snakes, a wombat, cows, llamas and I’m not sure what else. There’s a 15 km stretch down to Everton that is entirely downhill and the ‘riding’ is really just a matter of hanging on to your handle-bars. Finally we reached the Plough Inn at Tarrawingee for an amazing dinner and some lovely local wines.

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Over dinner we worked out that we had ridden 65kms, a first for the Flipster, who although tired was happy enough about his day to want to do it again. After dinner Paul from Riding High picked us and our bikes up and drove us back to Beechworth.

You know those days where you think, ‘That was a good day’, and to do it all on a bike is just that much better. Cycle Salute is on for one last BIG weekend. It’s worth checking out.

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