On any Great Vic Bike Ride you’ll find explorers and adventurers, but a special bunch joined us in 2023.
One young woman (Bianca pictured below) joined the nine-day event and made her way from her home in Alice Springs, Mparntwe, to Melbourne, via bus to Orbost and then by bike to Buchan, Lakes Entrance and Paynesville, before calamitous weather conditions caused a change of plans. See our Great Vic wrap-up here.
Five students (pictured above) from the Ltyentye Apurte School in Santa Teresa Alice Springs, accompanied by two women from the Arrente community, had planned to join the final days of the ride but, when they arrived in Melbourne halfway through the event, were prevented from travelling further south.
These students, who were part of a cross-cultural education program supported by Bicycle Network’s First Nations Youth Support Fund, made the most of their time in the city. They enjoyed a bike ride around some of Melbourne's most spectacular sights and other Melbourne cultural experiences, including watching the AFLW Grand Final.
Bicycle Network CEO Alison McCormack says the First Nations Support Fund was established to provide opportunities for young people who might not otherwise have this opportunity to experience new places, meet new people and discover the pure joy of a bike-riding adventure.
“We established the First Nations Support Fund to create pathways for Indigenous young people. We will continue to partner with schools and First Nations communities to provide opportunities for young people join us on the Great Vic and learn from one another for many years to come,” says McCormack.
The fund was kickstarted with an $8000 donation by the Grupetto Fund, which partners with the Newsboys Foundation to help young people achieve their goals. Donations from the community brought the fund to almost $10,000 ahead of the ride.
Ltyentye Apurte School teacher Nicole Traves said the aim of the program was to build resilience in the students and provide incentives for them to attend school.
The five students who came to Melbourne made a commitment to attend school four days a week, train on their bikes and complete their end of year exams in return for being allowed to join the trip.
Riding jerseys designed by Amunda Gorey were awarded to one school for its outstanding effort and attitude on each day's ride, and helmets painted by women from the Alice Springs community (pictured above) were raffled off help fundraising efforts.
Language, songs, thoughts and ideas were shared, and many new friendships were created on the journey, with a little bit of additional camaraderie forged by the tough weather conditions.
If you'd like to donate to Bicycle Network’s First Nations Youth Support Fund and help us bring more Indigenous students on the Great Victorian Bike Ride next year, please click here.
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