Wednesday, 31 August 2016


Stats for the day by Brocky Yates and Brett Shipp
Distance: 199 km's
Ride Time: 6:49:18
Ave Speed: 28.1km/h
Max Speed: 56km/h
Climbing: 831metres
Min Temp: 14 degrees
Max Temp: 30 degrees

Blog Dedication
Don and Lee Forbes - Blackwater Ambassadors and Smiddy Supporters.
This lovely couple own Village On Blaine and have supported Smiddy since 2008. Not only do they provide breakfast free of charge for the entire crew, but also provide a packed lunch for everyone. Unfortunately Don is not well and could not attend our function last night or the send off this morning. The big man, with a heart of gold, is battling cancer as we speak and is extremely unwell. Our thoughts are with Don and Lee and his family and our appreciation of their kindness over the years is off the scale.

Blackwater - Comet - Emerald Capella and the loss of 'The Fat Controller'
Well here I am, back in the lead car with Mel and Mick and old mate Anthony Richardson, who is sitting out until lunch as he just can't shake the consistent flu he has had since the start of the ride on Saturday. Anyway I am a little bit sad, but also a hell of a lot happy. Sad because I lose -the whole team loses- our lead car man in Mick Farrag at Capella, which is our lunchtime break at 135 kilometres. Mick has to return to work today at Grasstree Mine, which is near Middlemount an hour's drive away. Mick's Role there as Control Room Operator is one of great importance. The only way I can describe his role at work is to ask you to think of the 'Fat Controller' in 'Thomas The Tank Engine' cartoon and there you have a perfectly apt description of what Mick does! Thank you my dear 'Fat Controller' friend for keeping us all safe over the past four and a half days.

The happy side of this morning came about because I got to roll with those fine bunch of Smiddy riders for 80 kilometres into our morning tea break and Denison Sate School visit at Emerald. Our six-am scheduled departure from the Police Citizens Youth club saw Lynlea O'Neill sending the riders on their way with the ringing of the cow bell right on Smiddy time at 6:10a.m.

Village On Blaine Gluttony
For that first part of the ride the chatter was all about the Village on Blain smorgasboard breakfast. The kitchen there opened at 4:45 am and has every dish imaginable, including ice-cream, which 'Slippery' talks up every year and gets excited about it, but doesn't actually eat any as he is worried about his waistline! Actually thank goodness for the ice-cream still being on the menu, as 'Stinky Dave' has been 'Cranky Dave' since day three when the Thangool School visit excluded hot sausage rolls from their exhaustive list of treats. He stressed for two further days that the ice-cream at Village on Blaine may have also suffered the same fate. So a huge thank you Don and Lee Forbes for keeping 'Stinky' Dave', 'Happy Dave'.

Weather Gods Still In A God Mood
Once again we were gifted with near perfect conditions with a 14 degree temperature thanks to the low cloud cover and our ever faithful present tailwind that saw the peloton average 30 km/h into Emerald. So far this trip has been one of always being on time or ahead of schedule, and this morning was no different as we rolled in a good 20 minutes ahead of the 9:15am expected arrival time on the day card. Sure conditions have been great but the riders are also very strong and happy to apply the pressure to the pedals. Nice work lads.

Denison State School Visit and Free Coffee!
Today at our first toilet stop Cherie delivered some very exciting news that two past Smiddy riders, that live in Emerald, had organized a surprise coffee van for everyone on tour. Derek Hedgecock, who just completed the Adelaide to Uluru ride with us and was our poet each night, paid for the coffees, while old mate Tim Huston talked his mate into bringing his coffee van to the school. Orders were taken at that toilet stop and hot coffees awaited us after we had finished entertaining the kids. Thank you to Brooke and Dr Koala for helping to whip the kids into a frenzy as we took them through a dry land triathlon as a reminder of Adam Smiddy love of competing in triathlons. Great to see Ray Smith pop in to say hi. Miss you mate!

Thank you Derek and Tim and Gerry for organising the huge morning tea and letting us take all the leftovers with us. Oh and a special message to Tim and to your beautiful Wife Gerry, a huge congratulations on the birth of your latest little baby boy. I'll soon be joining you and then we can talk nappies and poo and important baby stuff... Can't wait!

Time Out With Richo - Saying Goodbye To Farragio
Spending some time with Richo in the back seat of the lead car as we make our to Capella for lunch, a medium cross headwind is making the going a little tougher for the rider group but they are hardened now, both mentally and physically, after five days on the road. Rich Anthony 'Richo' Richardson tells me each year he looks for something a little crazy to do that involves sweat, blood and tears. Mate you have come to the right place! He sat out this section from morning tea to lunch and is biting at the bit to get out there for the final run into Clermont. As Mick and Mel do their work in the front seat I am going to take a few minutes off from this blog to work on a little surprise for Mick... See below.

Goodbye Mick and Sharky Poem
It was here at Capella that Smiddy rider Jennifer Penfold and her good friend Carol Steel, drove out from Mackay to share lunch with the crew. Jennifer did Challenge last year and Adelaide to Uluru this year, while Carol is the Wife of Ron Steel, who completed the original ride with me in 2006. They were warmly welcomed by the group. As Mick was leaving us at Capella we decided he deserved a little Sharky poem. Here it is below. Thanks Mick for the memories.

A quick little poem for our dear mate Mick
Who after lunch at Capella, to work, he must return quick

Just wanted you to know how special you are
The best buddy we could have, the best by far

We understand that you must leave us now
But who will step into your role. Who will know how?

You have set a tall order for the next to sit next to Mel
They could be as awesome as you, or it could all go to hell!

But mate don't you worry about us, we'll be fine
Keep an eye on the blogs, We'll pay out on you from time to time

Thanks again champ for stepping up to the plate
Your support for Smiddy surely does rate

I'll leave you with this thought
The smiles that you brought

Came about because you wore your heart on your sleeve
You cared about this group, and I know how hard today it is for you to leave

The only way I could express how we feel about you Mick
Was through this poem, short and quick

Salt of the earth you are by far
For 4 days we followed your path, our guiding star.

Thank you for keeping us safe our beautiful friend
Our hearts are now broken, but they'll surely mend.

Actually mine is okay already old mate
Now get out of here, on the road, for work, don't you be late!

If you change your mind
Clermont, us, you will find

Your Smiddy friends drunk tonight at the bar
After another long bloody day of riding that endless tar!

Love Sharky and crew.

Welcome Shayne Ritchings
With Mick departing us for richer pastures we welcome the inclusion of Shayne from Mackay, who was the rider meant to ride with us but broke his hand a week out from Challenge. I am excited that Shayne will get to salvage something from that huge disappointment by joining us for these last four days. He is in the back seat of the lead car next to me, with Cherie now taking over Mick's role as navigator, alongside of our magnificent Mel, doing an awesome job as driver since Brisbane. Shayne is learning the ropes this afternoon and once he has earned his certificate will be handed the reigns as Mel's assistant. Good luck mate and welcome on board.

Clermont Ramblings
Not until afternoon tea did I get back on the road to complete the last 20 kilometres into Clermont. The rider group were in good spirits and finished strongly into a small but enthusiastic reception from the local community. After some beers and platters of food at our sponsor hotel the Commercial, the huddle was taken by two great mates from Victoria in Peter Vogt and Graham Lucas. Peter owns a Bottlemart pub in Victoria and signed up for the ride after convincing Graham it would be a good idea. Graham was telling me he agreed straight up but not having any idea of what he had actually signed up for. Thanks lads for the fine job you did taking the huddle.

Thank You - Thank You - Thank You
Thank you to the following people for making our stay in Clermont so special. Firstly road crew Jenny Frazer for reading out tonight's blog. Actually today I was told a funny story how Jenny was separated from her husband Bruce on the Biloela night. She didn't complain though as she got to share a billet with a young lad who is not half bad looking in Kenny Woods. Their Homestay hosts that afternoon took both of them on a joy flight in the plane he had in his shed on the property, as you do and all perfectly normal!

Thank you to all the Homestay hosts for looking after all the Smiddy crew. To Johnny Martin for making the ten year Challenge frames for auction, which required upwards of 80 hours of work.

A big thank you to our hosts at the Commercial Hotel in Marie and Roger Vine, who are a Bottlemart pub and have looked after us forever and a day.

A huge thank you to Dawid Pretorius, general manager of Glencore's Clermont Mine and is responsible for sponsoring the meals for all present tonight.

Thank you also to Jess Hodge for organising the billet's and helping Marie Vine with the dinner tonight.

And lastly a heartfelt thank you to Danny and his Wife Pauline Mackay, who have been my homestay hosts for nine years now. Danny is also the music man in town and provides the entertainment every year for this Smiddy function. A huge thanks mate and please can I book my bed for a years time?

Messages and No Phone Cover
Any messages of support please shoot through to me at marksharkysmoothy@gmail and I'll read out tomorrow night in Belyando Crossing. Oh, and we will have no coverage tomorrow so don't worry if you get no blog on Thursday night, or more importantly, if you don't hear from your riders on tour.

Jersey presentations
Tonight the jerseys were presented to Ben Hola for the great work he has done keeping all the bikes ticking over. Also it was a unanimous decision that David Smiddy had earned the right to win a special jersey for so many obvious reasons that I am not going to list them here otherwise I would be writing for two hours.

Road Kill Update
Last night Sergio and Sydsey were sacked by Youngy for their performance these past four days. Yet here they are tonight, once again doing the road kill count. For which we are all grateful because they are awesome! 1 Budgie with yellow and green spots, 10 bad smells, mostly from the peloton and Habo, 2 possums, 1 Galah, 9 Roo's, 1 blood splatter, 4 bags of bones,

Take care everyone.


A History of Clermont

The 1916 Flood is Clermont's most iconic event. Striking suddenly after a rain depression, the flood washed away Clermont's central business district and claimed at least sixty-five lives. It is still known as Australia's second worst flood in terms of loss of life. Visit the 1916 flood marker on the corner of Capricorn and Drummond Streets to view the height of the flood waters and read the names of the citizens who perished.

The Piano in the tree in Capricorn Street (opposite Ivan Bettridge Park) is an eerie reminder of the height and ravaging force of the flood waters. Although it's a replica today, there were originally three pianos found in trees after the 1916 Flood. A mass grave of the flood victims is also located in the Clermont Cemetery.

Clermont has a rich mining history and as the first inland settlement in the tropics is one of the most historic towns in Central Queensland. The first European to pass through the Clermont region was Ludwig Leichhardt, a Prussian explorer and scientist who came to Australia to study its rocks and wildlife. This was in 1845 on the first of three major expeditions exploring northern and central Australia.

Jeremiah Rolfe was one the first European settlers in the area and established a station west of Clermont in 1854 on Mistake Creek. Rolfe christened the creek on realising that his station was not on the Belyando River as he had presumed.

It wasn’t until the discovery of gold in 1861, sparking one of Queensland’s major gold rushes, that the population started to grow. A rudimentary hotel was built in 1862 for the influx of miners and Clermont was proclaimed a town the following year.

Copper mine at Copperfield, Queensland, ca. 1910. Photographer, GC Pullar
Clermont's mining industry continued to grow in 1863 when Peak Downs Copper Company began mining Queensland's first rich copper lode just 5km south of Clermont. The municipality of Copperfield grew around the mine. 17,000 tonnes of refined copper were produced at the smelters over 15 years.

Both towns boomed in the 1860’s but by the 1880’s, due to falling copper prices in London, Copperfield’s population was halved. Today Copperfield is marked only by a single remaining brick smelter chimney.

Clermont faired better but being built next to a lagoon on low lying ground the town was subject to substantial flooding. Following the most damaging and tragic flood in 1916, the decision was made to relocate the town. Many of the wooden buildings, including the hotel, were moved by steam traction engines to higher

Moving the Leo Hotel, Queensland, ca. 1917. Photographer, GC Pullar
Since the early discoveries of copper and gold, silver and coal resources have also been successfully mined and mining still accounts for nearly 40% of employment. The region produced 400,000 ounces of gold from 1878 to 1956. The 1980’s saw the discovery of a number of new gold deposits and new mines were developed at Pajingo, Wirralie, Yandan, Lucky Break and Belyando. The district also hosts the coal mines at Blair Athol and New Clermont, all testimony to the rich mineral potential of the region.

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