The Kimberley Bike Ride

Host: Isolated Children’s Parent’s Association
Written by Nikki Elizovich – Owner, Country Downs Station.

Nikki is from Country Downs Station, WA where she, with her husband Kurt own and operate Country Downs, producing cattle for live export. Country Downs Station is also a regular contributor to Central Station, hosting a week each year. Nikki is also the Treasurer of the ICPA Kimberley Air Branch based around the Kimberley School of the Air region. Nikki contributed her blog as a participant of the Rural Leadership Bootcamp that was held in October 2016 in Broome, WA.

As with most not-for-profit organisations, the biggest struggle is usually finance. Whilst membership costs are not ‘cheap’, in order to send delegates to conferences, meetings with Ministers, and a multitude of other conventions and business meetings the money provided by membership rarely covers these costs. As a result, the majority of branches rely on fundraising events or donations to remain financial throughout each year. The best bit about fundraising events is that they can be so much fun as well. This year the Isolated Children’s Parent’s Association Kimberley Air Branch and the Pilbara branch, both in WA, were very fortunate to have a fantastic fundraising event occur that showcased the distances and isolation that some of our rural and remote communities have to deal with on an everyday basis. The event was run by a group of people that undertook a Rural Leadership Bootcamp in Broome, WA in October 2016. This is their story.

By now, you are probably thinking “Rural Leadership Bootcamp, what does that mean? What is that?” Well to make you feel a bit more at ease, so were all of us who attended and participated in the Bootcamp in Broome from the 17th-19th of October, 2016. The worst part was that even when we asked around and tried to find out more information about this mysterious “Bootcamp” nobody had much more information. What all of the 12 participants did know though, is that the three day workshop was going to teach us all how to be great leaders! Well that’s what we thought, I mean it’s a leadership course, right? It turns out that every single individual in that room over those three days learnt a whole lot more than that.

x-1resize-copyThe participants of the Rural Leadership Bootcamp, Broome October 2016, outside the KPCA and Northern Beef Futures (NBF) offices on Hunter/Gregory Streets.

To start at the beginning, the Leadership Bootcamp is run by The Right Mind, a company based in Brisbane. How they ended up across the country in Broome is solely due to three other not-for-profit organisations:

  1. Kimberley and Pilbara Cattlemen’s Association (KPCA): a newly formed association that provides industry based support, education, innovation, and connection.
  2. Rangelands NRM: a non-government organisation that works to enhance sustainable management in the WA rangelands through facilitation, collaboration, and delivering outcomes.
  3. West Kimberley LCDC (Land Conservation District Committee): a committee of land managers working to promote sustainable land management, to empower land managers to undertake such activities, and to undertake projects.

These three groups worked together to secure funds to bring down the cost of the course to within reach of young rural people who have substantial expenses to attend including time off work, travelling many hundreds of kilometres to town and accommodation. Rangelands NRM was able to support the initiative through funding from the Australian Government’s National Landcare Programme and the West Kimberley LCDC secured funds through the Western Australian Government’s State NRM Program supported by Royalties for Regions. The KPCA pulled it all together and organised the event which aimed to improve the skills of our young rural leaders who will be the future back bone of the region, it’s industries, it’s communities, and it’s community groups. The participants who attended came from all over the Kimberley and Pilbara, from as far North as Kununurra to as far South in the Pilbara as Sherlock Station and Yarrie Station. As this workshop was organised by the KPCA, all of the attendees were from stations and/or agricultural enterprises. Because of this, the focus of the project that we had to undertake as a part of the Bootcamp was to donate a couple of bikes to an organisation that most of us had, at some point in our lives, needed or been a part of or benefited from the dedicated work they undertook . . . and that was the Isolated Children’s Parents’ Association, fondly known as the ICPA.

The only instructions given to us was to “as two groups, undertake a project involving one bike for each group, whereby the proceeds are donated to the charity of choice”. Now, at this point many of us in the group were thinking along the lines of “It’s a competition” . . . well wouldn’t anyone? Despite this, after listening to each group pretty much discussing the same things, we all decided it would be much better to join forces and make a bigger project that could have a far bigger impact and result than each of the two groups going alone could do. There were no rules against that and so the Kimberley Pilbara Bike Relay Raffle came to fruition. After discussions leading into the later hours of the evening, we came up with the plan and then started the long journey to completion. We must add at this point, at the time of writing this blog, the bike relay has not finished, however, we believe that by the time this blog is put on Central Station for you readers, it will be completed. However, updates on the journey and it’s completion, if the case, are being posted on the KPCA facebook page and also on Central Station Facebook page.

What was important to all of us in the group was that we wanted to demonstrate the vast distances that many people in outback Australia need to travel on a regular basis. For example, just to attend this Bootcamp some people had to travel over 1000km. Now that is huge, but for those of us that live in these remote areas, that’s quite normal. So we designed a ‘journey’ that each of these bikes would take to show people just how vast our beautiful country is and at the same time demonstrate how simple and effortless these distances can be.

At the time of writing this blog both bikes are well and truly into their respective journeys. They have both seen some fantastic ticket sales in a number of different and unexpected places. Regardless of how much money the actual project makes, we all agree that the fundamental philosophy behind the project is actually what makes it such an inspiring story. We feel very proud to have undertaken this kind of project because the concept is very close to most of our hearts, raising children in the outback and the challenges associated with that. We can only hope that the outcomes of the project will benefit the families that are a part of our rural and remote communities in ways that maybe even we couldn’t have even imagined. And more importantly we are hopeful that the members of our society in all areas of Australia are now more aware of the many amazing associations and organisations that have been formed solely to help, support and progress their local communities. We couldn’t have done what we each have achieved as families in the outback without the support of the ICPA, the KPCA, Rangelands NRM, the West Kimberley LCDC, and the multitude of others that are there to help in certain ways. We will leave you now with a couple of photos and a map of each bike’s journey thus far. Enjoy.

x-3resize-copyThe Black bike at it’s first stop, Anna Plains Station.

x-4resize-copyThe Yellow bike at an impromptu stop on Yeeda Station on it’s way to Derby.

x-5resize-copyThe Yellow bike joining in an ‘air lesson’ with a student at the Kimberley School of the Air Derby base.

x-6resize-copyThe Black bike hanging out at Sherlock recreational room!

x-7resize-copyThe Yellow bike on display with the some of the crew from Liveringa Station.

x-8-copyMap of the Black bike’s journey from Broome thus far.

x-9-copyMap of the Yellow bike’s journey from Broome thus far.

ICPA (Aust) is a voluntary, non-profit, apolitical parent body, dedicated to ensuring all rural and remote students have equity of access to a continuing and appropriate education. We welcome membership and all interested persons are invited to join the Association. To join click this link. You can also follow us on Facebook and Twitter.