25/06/2009 - 00:00

Cape crusaders do their bit for charity

25/06/2009 - 00:00

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THOSE famous last words, It seemed like a good idea at the time aren't what you'd expect from a man who spends most of his time in the boardrooms of the state's mining companies.

Cape crusaders do their bit for charity

THOSE famous last words, "It seemed like a good idea at the time" aren't what you'd expect from a man who spends most of his time in the boardrooms of the state's mining companies.

But for resources veteran Miles Kennedy, a 7,500-kilometre off-road motorbike trip, diagonally traversing the continent in less than a month was one adventure he couldn't say no to, despite his best efforts.

For the past decade, Mr Kennedy and some close friends, all avid MotoGP fans, have made a tradition out of crossing the Nullarbor Plain on road bikes to watch the Phillip Island round of the world championship each October.

Last year, however, the chief executive of diamond company Lonhro Mining, chairman of diamond explorer Resource and Investment, gold explorer Sandfire Resources, and non-executive chairman of aquaculture outfit Marine Produce Australia almost pulled the pin on the annual pilgrimage.

"We've all done that (trip) about 10 times, so last year it was, 'Guys, there's not too much more of the Nullarbor we can see that we haven't already seen, or South Australia or Victoria or Western Australia, so why don't we do something different?'," Mr Kennedy told Business Class.

"I turned 60 last October, and the guys who came along very kindly gave me a birthday present of an off-road Suzuki bike ... and that was the start of it.

"I'd actually told them, after Philip Island last year, that's it, I've done this enough and thank you, so they thought 'we're not having this, here's a birthday present, try this one'."

The rest of the story is straightforward. Well, not exactly straight forward, rather on a diagonal.

Mr Kennedy and his travelling party, made up of eight riders with two support vehicles, decided to tackle a world-first challenge and head diagonally across the country from the south-western tip, Cape Leeuwin, to Cape York in Queensland's north.

"Certainly a couple of guys have said they've gone from Perth to Cape York, but it's not the same as cape to cape," Mr Kennedy says.

And it's certainly not the same in terms of the charitable donations the group solicited for the trip.

"Basically what we did, as you all do, is you tap your mates on the shoulders, say 'this is what we're doing, and you have a choice - we'd like you to donate, or donate or else'," Mr Kennedy says.

"The last tally is about $83,500, but only yesterday we got a further donation, so it will take it over $85,000."

The University of Western Australia's Western Desert Health Care Project and the Royal Flying Doctor Service (RFDS) are the worthy recipients.

However, Mr Kennedy jokingly suggests that previous experiences driving across Australia, Africa and the US may have been another reason for selecting the flying doctor.

"We hoped we wouldn't but we thought we might need RFDS, so we thought it would be pretty good to keep them onside, and obviously they do an incredible job," he says.

A good thing too, considering the group almost needed the RFDS on a number of occasions.

"It was extraordinarily hard; after 29 days all but two of us had broken bones of some description," Mr Kennedy says.

"Trevor Mackinnon broke his leg badly, Micko O'Byrne broke his collar bone and three ribs, Stuart Kenny broke four ribs and I broke three bones in my left hand. It was definitely the walking wounded in the end."

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