12 Unique Life Experiences

I posted a very similar post to this some years ago and thought it was worth sharing again with a slight update here and there.

Let’s get the conversation going. I want to know about some of the things you’ve experienced that most others haven’t. What are the unique moments of your life?

I thought I’d try to spark things by listing a few things I’ve done that you probably haven’t.

While you may find one or two things on the list that you’ve done I sincerely doubt that you’ve done all twelve. 🙂

I’m hoping that you’ll come up with a few of your own in the comments section of this post. If you’ve done any of the things on my list let me know.

I’ll just list the twelve things and leave it to you. If you have questions about any of the items in the list, feel free to ask.

12 Things You’ve ‘Probably’ Never Done

1. Spent six weeks in court.

gavel

It was some years ago and it was quite a high profile case. I had been called on for jury duty for a case that was set down for two to three weeks. Within the first week the judge suggested that things were going really well and we’d probably be all wrapped up in less than two weeks. Then things got complicated.

Six weeks later we finally returned our verdict and our lives could return to normal.

2. Cycled across Australia six times.

It’s been a couple of years since my last Nullarbor crossing in 2018 when I rode from Perth to Newcastle. It seems almost a lifetime away from my first of five crossings back in 1987.

I’ve cycled across Australia in my twenties, my thirties, my forties and in my fifties. I’m currently making plans for another crossing which will start in about 13 months from now. You can find out more about my next crossing (and maybe even join me) by going to the Ride for Compassion website.

1987 – Perth to Canberra
1988 – Perth to Canberra
1990 – Perth to Adelaide
2000 – Perth to Sydney
2003 – Perth to Hobart
2018 – Perth to Newcastle

3. Escaped a country when rioting and looting in the capital became widespread.

haitiriot

I was introduced to the work of Compassion when I was invited to travel to Haiti back in April 2008. We were meant to be there for a little over a week but it was the time of the global financial crisis and subsequently the global food crisis. Families couldn’t afford even the most basic food so after their cries for help to the government fell on deaf ears, they began to riot in the streets.

Roads were barricaded, shops were looted and there were fires across the capital city of Port-au-Prince. Several people died in the riots.

Our small team managed to get out of Haiti under some extremely trying circumstances. It was very difficult getting to the airport and at times we were in very real danger. We finally hooked up with some armed police who escorted us to the airport so that we could leave the country.

You can hear more about our close call in my podcast episode with fellow traveler, Az Hamilton. Just click play on the audio player below.

4. Hand fed an orangutan.

orangutan

I also got fairly close to a lion, patted a penguin, fed a rhinoceros, had a 1.5 metre snake draped across my shoulders and much more as part of a behind the scenes Zoo experience back in late 2008.

5. Shared a stage with Mikhail Gorbachev.

mikhail-gorbachev

When I say ‘shared a stage’ what I really mean is that we were both on the same stage at the same time. Gorbachev was speaking to an audience and I was carrying his cup of tea.

It was May 1999 and the World Masters of Business was at the Burswood Dome in Perth. Some friends were staging the event and so I not only recorded all the voice overs to introduce the guests, I got to be stage manager on the day.

One of the things Mr Gorbachev requested was that he would have a very hot cup of tea placed on a table off to the side of his lectern. To ensure it was as hot as possible I carried it on just after he had made his way onto the stage.

6. Had my travel documents confiscated in a foreign country.

passport

It was 1992 and I was traveling to Canada to cycle through The Rockies for a week or so. Our flights had been overbooked so instead of going a fairly direct route we had to visit a few extra airports.

It was back in the day that Australians required a visa to enter the US. When we flew into San Francisco and had to clear US Customs, my passport and other travel documents were confiscated. I didn’t have a visa.

I explained the situation and so it wasn’t really a big deal but I did get a big red ‘TWOV’ stamped in the passport. (Transit Without Visa).

All my documents were finally returned a couple of flights later when I stepped off the plane in Canada.

7. Cycled from Agra to Delhi in India.

agra-to-delhi

On my first of three trips to India I traveled by van to Agra, home of the Taj Mahal, before starting the ride back to Delhi.

Cycling in India is an amazing experience. I wouldn’t recommend it to anyone with a heart condition but if you’re interested in adventure, start pedaling.

8. Met General ‘Stormin’ Norman Schwarzkopf.

Stormin Norman was another of the speakers at World Masters of Business at the Burswood Dome in Perth. Unlike the other speakers, Norman was back stage well before time. He wanted to hang out with the crew and made sure he introduced himself to everyone. For someone who played such a significant part in the history of our world he was amazingly ‘normal’. He was extremely friendly and seemed to be a genuinely nice guy.

When it was finally time for him to speak, he focused a lot on leading alongside others and having real care for those you lead. From my interactions with him earlier in the day it was obvious that he practiced what he preached.

9. Interviewed 2011 Tour de France winner, Cadel Evans.

cadel

I had the honour of interviewing hundreds of people during my years working in radio. I spoke to the famous through to the not so famous and lots in between but some interviews will always be highlights for me. Like the day in 2009 when I had twenty minutes with a cycling hero.

Cadel had just published his biography, Cadel Evans: Close To Flying, and was traveling around Australia on a promotional tour. As soon as I heard he was coming I contacted his publisher and was thrilled when I was told he would be coming to the studio for an interview.

He was quietly spoken and it was obvious that media interviews weren’t his favourite part of the job, but he was gracious and interesting and I got to hang out with a hero.

10. Preached at Cathedral Church of the Redemption in New Delhi, India.

During my first trip to India I found that a number of engagements had been arranged for me. One of those engagements was preaching on the Sunday morning at the Cathedral. I was so glad that I’d packed my suit.

The cathedral is impressive, inside and out, and is known as among the most beautiful and magnificent churches in India. It’s a part of the Church of North India which is a province of the worldwide Anglican Communion.

11. Been mentioned in Australia’s Federal Parliament.

hansard

It was September 2007 when Stephen Smith delivered a speech regarding the Millennium Development Goals. I was part of a small group representing the Make Poverty History campaign which visited Mr Smith’s office some time beforehand to raise concerns with him.

Our group, gathered from several local churches in Mr Smith’s electorate, were all mentioned by name. Mr Smith finished his short speech to the parliament with this paragraph.

We had a very fruitful conversation, and it was so pleasing to see so many people in the local community in my electorate committed to wanting to see Australia act as a good international citizen, committed from a personal point of view to always trying to ensure that someone who is not as well off as you are gets a helping hand up, and as far as Australia being a good international citizen is concerned, ensuring that Australia is committed to overseas development aid, is committed to the Millennium Development Goals and committed in an international sense to making poverty history for so many developing nations around the globe at the moment.

12. Cycled up and down an aisle at K-Mart in Miami, Florida.

kmart

In 2008, on the way to visiting Compassion’s work in Haiti, we stopped in Miami for a night. On the way to the airport we stopped at the local K-Mart so that one of the group could buy some extra clothes.

As we wandered around I noticed the bikes at the very back of the store. I figured that I wouldn’t get another chance like this so I handed my camera to one of the team and then started riding around. I wanted to say that I have cycled in the US. I got the photographic proof and so it’s official.

So there you are. Now it’s over to you.



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My Bicycle Crash

I crashed. I’m not hurt, but I did crash.

It wasn’t a physical crash. I didn’t hit anything or fall off my bike. It was a different kind of crash.

Things were going great. I was building up the kilometres on my bicycle, feeling good, but then one day after a ride, I put my bike in its usual place in the garage and that’s where it stayed. I haven’t really been out on my bike for a long time.

All that’s about to change. I’m 15 months away from starting my seventh crossing of Australia by bicycle. I need to reacquaint myself with my bike and with long hours of training.

Ride for Compassion Coast to Coast 2021 will leave Perth on Saturday the 18th of September next year. Over 4,000 kilometres later, on Wednesday the 20th of October 2021, we’ll arrive in Newcastle. We’ll cycle an average of 150 kilometres a day, with some days up around 200 kilometres.

Why am I doing it all again?

While COVID-19 has had significant effects for all of us, I’ve been deeply saddened to hear the estimates of the impact on the poorest people in our world. I heard a friend say that the current pandemic will push back the cause of reducing extreme poverty in our world by 10 years. It’s been estimated that between 40 million and 60 million people will return to extreme poverty. Think about that … between 40 million and 60 million people who had escaped extreme poverty being pushed back into that darkness. I just can’t comprehend that kind of devastation.

I’m riding for those children who, through no fault of their own, find themselves in fairly desperate circumstances. I can’t not ride.

Will you help?

We’ve all faced difficulties in this time, but those in poverty don’t have a safe place to isolate. They don’t have any savings stashed away for the tough times. They barely had enough to survive before and now they have nothing.

You can make a very real difference. I’ll do the training. I’ll push my ageing body to do this one more time. Will you contribute to the cause?

I have set a personal target of $25,000. It’s a huge target and I have no idea how to get there, but I know how to ride my bike and I’m hoping and praying that you’ll help me raise funds for the most vulnerable in our world.

Whether you can afford $10 or $10,000, I’m pleading with you to consider donating today through my fundraising page. If you’re in Australia, your donation will be tax deductible. Wherever you are, your donation will save lives.

Please consider the difference you can make in these very difficult times.



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When the War (on COVID-19) is Over

There will be an end to the current crisis. Plan now to do something amazing to celebrate when that time comes.

Ride for Compassion Coast to Coast 2021 is a one-month, 4,000km cycle across Australia from Perth to Newcastle, to help raise money for children living in poverty.

Check out the video below for a taste of what the ride will be like. (It’s even better if you watch it in full screen.)

You’re one ride away from changing lives.

I’ve mentioned before that the most vulnerable in any crisis are children living in extreme poverty. Why not plan now to ensure that when our lives start to return to normal (whatever that is) that those in the greatest need aren’t left behind.

We’re currently registering both cyclists and support crew.

For more information, or to register your interest, head to the Ride for Compassion website.



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The Most Vulnerable

I was only away for a week, but I came back to a very different Australia to the one I left.

Before I left, concerns were growing rapidly over COVID-19. Even at that stage a lot of travellers were cancelling their plans. There was nervousness in the community.

People were starting to stock up on what they considered to be essential items.

In the days before I flew out, hand sanitiser was nowhere to be found and there were empty spaces in shops and pharmacies where there used to be face masks.

I left Australia bound for the Philippines on the 3rd of March to see Compassion’s work in action. Within a couple of days, people back home seemed to be ratcheting up the panic.

Social media kept me up to date with life in my home country … and it wasn’t pretty.

To be fair, COVID-19 is a pretty big deal and will continue to be for quite some time. There’s a very real need for concern and more than that, for action. I can’t blame people for protecting themselves and those they love.

The difficulty for me was sitting with beautiful, courageous families who are living in makeshift shelters, with no electricity, running water or toilets, and then seeing videos in my Facebook feed of people in Australian supermarkets fighting over toilet rolls.

COVID-19 is stripping away our choices. It is tearing at our security. It is bringing unquestionable pain in the form of job losses, failing businesses, loss of connection and so much more.

When life eventually returns to normal, it will be a radically different kind of normal.

For many, there won’t be the opportunity to pick up where we left off. Unemployment is likely to be the long-term reality for many who previously had secure jobs. Many businesses will be unable to weather this storm and simply won’t be around when the virus has been defeated.

On top of all that comes the anxiety and the disconnection that comes with our isolation. Video catch ups don’t give hugs.

Many of us are likely to either be infected with the virus or be close to people who will suffer from COVID-19. Even worse, some of us will lose loved ones to this horrible virus.

In the midst of all of this, my heart is breaking for the children Compassion serves. Together with their families they are facing even greater risks.

In a time when we’re all feeling vulnerable, I really hope you’ll spare a thought, a prayer, and maybe even a gift for these children. They are the most vulnerable of all.

Past President of Compassion International, Wess Stafford spoke about the vulnerability of children in his book, Too Small to Ignore. While we are hearing that this virus is most deadly for the elderly, I think the paragraphs here still carry a lot of weight.

No matter what the setting, children seem to be a second-rate mandate. No matter what the ill of society, it tends to spiral downward and eventually land with its cruelest and most smothering impact on our littlest citizens.

Small, weak, helpless, innocent, vulnerable, and trusting, they are the waiting victims for our simple neglect and most evil abuse.

No matter what goes wrong, the little ones pay the greatest price.

When hunger and famine strike a nation, adults become weak and hungry, but it is the children who most often starve to death. When disease arrives with all its fury, adults can become very sick, but the first to die are usually the children.

When war erupts over ethnicity or boundary lines in the dust, it is the littlest victims who pay the most tragic price. The wars of the last decade killed more children than soldiers.

Far more children were injured or permanently maimed by our battles. The tragedies go on for years after the last gunshot or grenade blast, as land mines and booby-trapped toys keep wounding, terrorizing, and killing our innocent ones.

The ritual sacrifice of children has been taboo for thousands of years. Yet tragically it is practiced every day across our world.

We sacrifice children on the altars of our most destructive sins. When the sickness of pornography has run to its most evil and destructive end, it takes the form of child pornography.

When prostitution reaches its sickest, most depraved form, it becomes child prostitution. Perhaps a little closer to home is the reality that children are the sacrificial lambs when our homes break up through neglect, anger, hostility, and eventually divorce.

Kids frequently blame themselves for the destruction, carrying deep scars on their innocent spirits for a lifetime.

The last thing I would want to do is minimise the situation we all find ourselves in right now. We’re here through no fault of our own and we are not in control. That’s scary … and it’s pretty much how a lot of those in extreme poverty live their entire lives.

I would simply ask that as we face this unprecedented interruption to our lives, we consider those most vulnerable in our world. Children living in extreme poverty.



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It’s Happening Again

The eighties … a time of big music and even bigger hair. Yes, I’ll admit it. I had a mullet.

As the eighties started heading towards the brave, new world of the nineties, we hit 1987.

It was the year Aretha Franklin became the first woman to be inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame. In 1987 the world population hit five billion. It was also the year Microsoft released Windows 2.0. And in 1987, The Simpsons cartoon first appeared as a series of shorts on The Tracey Ullman Show.

In February of 1987, when I was 23, my mum succumbed to a long illness and passed away at just 66 years of age.

1987 was also the year that I first crossed Australia by bicycle.

Since then, I’ve cycled across Australia in 1988, 1990, 2000, 2003 and last year in 2018.

Let’s do it again.

If everything goes to plan, on Saturday the 18th of September 2021, I’ll begin my seventh bicycle crossing of our nation. I’ll start pedaling from Perth, Western Australia towards Newcastle, New South Wales. Ride for Compassion Coast to Coast will bring together around 30 cyclists riding for a common cause.

We will arrive at Compassion’s head office in Newcastle, NSW on Wednesday the 20th of October.

What is Ride for Compassion Coast to Coast 2021?

It’s a trek of over 4,000km from the beautiful beaches of Western Australia, across the barren inland of Australia, to the bustling east coast city of Newcastle. The participants in the Ride for Compassion Coast to Coast will test their stamina, while making a massive difference in the lives of children living in poverty.

The ride is set to start on Saturday 18 September 2021 in Perth and finish at Compassion’s head office in Newcastle, NSW on Wednesday 20 October. There’ll be 28 riding days and five rest days. The average distance to be ridden each day will be 150km, with almost 200km the longest distance for one hard day’s ride.

There is an expectation that all riders will undertake extensive training before the event, pay on-road costs, and raise significant funds for the work of Compassion.

Become involved in Ride for Compassion

To register your interest for the 2021 Ride for Compassion Coast to Coast, please visit the Ride for Compassion website.

Love to be involved, but not keen on cycling? We’re looking for volunteers to help with driving the bus and other support vehicles, preparing breakfast and lunch, first aid, hydration and other tasks.

Does this sound like you? Please visit the Ride for Compassion website for further information.

Why are we riding?

The ride will once again raise money for Compassion Australia‘s Highly Vulnerable Children’s Fund.

Every child in poverty is vulnerable, but some children are at risk of the most deplorable situations in the world.

Children whose parents who have left, died, or are unable to provide for them, children exposed to exploitation and children with special needs are highly vulnerable. They often find themselves on the edge of extremely dangerous situations like child labour, gang violence, trafficking, and life on the street.

Registrations for the ride open in early 2020 but if you’re interested in joining me on a bike or as part of the support team, head to the Ride for Compassion website.

I need to get fit. Really fit.

I used to keep a moderate level of fitness by cycling to and from work each day but my job hasn’t really allowed me to do that for the last six years. I need to get myself into better shape than I have ever been. I’m going to have to be strategic and focused if I’m to drop a bunch of kilograms and put plenty of kilometres into my legs. I’ll need to be able to ride around a thousand kilometres a week for just over four weeks.

Taking part in the ride will take a huge effort.

But every effort I make to be part of the ride will be worth it because some things are unacceptable. It’s unacceptable that millions of children are living in extreme poverty. In 2021 I’ll once again put my body on the line to do whatever I can to make a difference for as many of those children as I can.

Will you help me give more children a chance to live, dream and hope? Head to the Ride for Compassion website or leave me a comment on this post.



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