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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Can We Get a Refund?

Hey America, I’ve been looking around at all the wonderful days of celebration you have on offer and I’m wondering if we can get a refund. It seems we bought the wrong day.

I’m fine if you have a ‘no refund’ policy. A straight exchange will work just as well.

It seems that here in Australia we’ve bought into the whole Halloween thing you were selling. Yep, I know it didn’t originate with you, but we seem to have bought your version of the day anyway.

Every year in October our supermarket shelves are filled with more and more skeletons, pumpkins, ghouls and ghosts. We’ve bought the whole package from you and every year we see more and more children wandering the streets begging for ‘candy from strangers’, a thing we advise against for the other 364 days of the year.

I know that Halloween is often dressed up as simply a day for dressing up, but I think I’ll pass.

So, back to the whole refund thing, or as I say, perhaps a direct swap.

If we give Halloween back, can we have Thanksgiving?

Again, I know it’s not necessarily an exclusively American thing, but from my long-distance perspective, you seem to do Thanksgiving pretty well.

We have so much to cause us to be thankful in Australia, and while I would love to see a spirit of thankfulness and gratitude all year round, a day dedicated to counting our blessings would be a very good addition to our calendar.

There’s been some excellent work done around a National Day of Thanks down under but unfortunately, it hasn’t gained the widespread acceptance and celebration it deserves.

While I don’t quite get the whole turkey pardoning thing (I don’t even know what the turkey did to need pardoning) I do like the idea of being thankful to God for His blessings to us. I also like the idea of sharing that thankfulness among family and friends around a meal.

Being thankful seems to have so much going for it.

In a world that presses us to want and strive after more and more, pretending that it will eventually bring us some kind of happiness, it’s helpful to look at our lives and see what we already have.

On days when I’m low, a quick reminder of just how good I’ve got it will often get me through. I’m not saying it’s the answer to everything that troubles us but thankfulness or gratitude can have proven, very real, physical benefits.

Psychologists find that, over time, feeling grateful boosts happiness and fosters both physical and psychological health, even among those already struggling with mental health problems. Studies show that practising gratitude curbs the use of words expressing negative emotions and shifts inner attention away from such negative emotions as resentment and envy, minimizing the possibility of ruminating over them (a hallmark of depression). – Psychology Today

The simple act of being thankful and expressing thankfulness can make a real difference in our lives.

Studies show gratitude helps us build stronger immune systems, causes us to be less bothered by aches and pains, lowers our blood pressure, gives us higher levels of positive emotions, makes us more alert, alive, and awake. There are many more benefits including making us more helpful, generous, and compassionate, more forgiving, less lonely and isolated. What’s not to like?

So, maybe we won’t grab every aspect of an American Thanksgiving, but can we pinch the general concept from you?

I would be incredibly thankful if we could see our nation recognising what we have rather than what we don’t have. That doesn’t mean blindly ignoring important issues that need our voice and attention but ensuring that we also give our voice to gratitude and thankfulness.

So what do you say, America?

Do you think we can do a deal? If we try to find the box it came in, can we return Halloween for a great big box of Thanksgiving?


And no matter where you are in the world, I’d love to hear why you’re thankful today? Do yourself and your health a real favour by practising thankfulness and gratitude right now. Leave a comment on this post with some of the things that make you thankful.



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ANZAC Day 2019

Olsens-in-Uniform

It’s here again. ANZAC Day. A day of major significance in Australia when we remember bravery, courage and the ongoing pain of war.

I do hope that this ANZAC Day we’ll honour those who have gone to war in the name of our country but also let the day remind us that war has no winners. Even those who make it home from war return as different people. The scars of war are not only physical.

As our world once again finds itself on the edge of escalating conflict we need to remember the lessons of past wars and commit to doing everything possible before taking up arms against others. The wars and conflicts that are continuing around the globe right now tell us clearly that violence is not the answer.

ANZAC Day, the 25th of April, has been described as Australia’s most important national occasion, a day of real significance for many Australians.
It marks the anniversary of the first major military action fought by Australian and New Zealand forces during the First World War. ANZAC stands for Australian and New Zealand Army Corps. While the date is aligned with that event in the First World War, the day is a remembrance of all those who have been to war to protect our freedom.

ANZAC Day goes beyond the anniversary of the landing on Gallipoli in 1915. It is the day we remember all Australians who served and died in all wars, conflicts, and peacekeeping operations. The spirit of ANZAC, with its human qualities of courage, mateship, and sacrifice, continues to have meaning and relevance for our sense of national identity. On ANZAC day, ceremonies are held in towns and cities across the nation to acknowledge the service of our veterans.

I’ve watched television coverage of ANZAC ceremonies many times. After all these years, the support for these commemorations continues to grow as the stories of heroism are remembered. As I watch I see the pain of ex-soldiers as they remember their experiences during the dawn services as well as their joy of being remembered as they travel the route of the marches along city streets.

When they see the crowds and hear the cheering as they pass, they know that this country is grateful for their sacrifice and the sacrifice of those who didn’t make it home.
Tom Olsen

Together with my wife and my son, I’ve volunteered to help at a couple of ANZAC Marches through Perth. It’s sobering to look into the faces of those who have risked so much for our freedom. It’s so sad to think that they had to go to war in the first place. Their lives and the lives of those connected to them will be marked by war forever.

Seeing the memories of war in the faces of those marching year by year isn’t the only place I’ve experienced its effects.

Sadie OlsenMy parents served in the Royal Australian Air Force during the Second World War. (You can click on any of the photos for a closer look. As well as the individual photos of my parents, the top picture shows my dad on the far right with his father and two of his brothers.)

I’m sure that my father especially would have been a very different man had it not been for his experiences in war. Though he never liked to talk about those experiences I know that they coloured the rest of his life and in turn the life of our family. He was a good and caring man but I know that war changed him.

I’ve only seen a shadow of a glimpse of war but that’s enough for me to know that it’s a horrid experience where no one really wins.

War is a terrible thing, and I’m glad that I’ve never had to fight, but I am grateful for the courage and sacrifice of those who fought for our country. I shudder when I imagine what it would be like to face a hostile enemy, knowing that any moment could be my last.

I would hate to have to go to war. I can’t even imagine what it would be like to say goodbye to my loved ones, not knowing if I’d ever see them again.

Having children of my own, I don’t even want to think about the parents that have seen their children go to war. My hope is that we will continue to work towards finding better, peaceful ways to overcome conflict. War should never be the answer.

ANZAC Day isn’t about glorifying war, it’s about paying our respects to those who put their lives on the line for their countrymen and the generations to come.



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A Very Long Way to Ride a Bike

I’ve made it to Balladonia … by bicycle.

If you haven’t caught up with what I’m doing, I’m currently cycling across Australia for highly vulnerable children living in extreme poverty.

Ride for Compassion Coast to Coast started in Perth, Western Australia on Saturday the 15th of September. We will arrive at Compassion’s head office in Newcastle, New South Wales on Tuesday the 16th of October.

We’re travelling with 24 cyclists and a support team of 9.

We’ve finished 6 of our 28 riding days and had 1 of our 4 rest days. The average riding distance for our riding days is just over 155 kilometres. Our longest days are just under 200 kilometres.

Today’s journey from Norseman to Balladonia covered almost 192 kilometres. That’s our second longest day of the whole trip. In a few days we’ll ride our longest distance of 195 kilometres.

If you’d like to support my part in the ride you can do so in two ways.

I am personally seeking to raise $15,000. I really need your help to make that a reality.

You can make a direct donation to my fundraising page. Your donation will touch the lives of some of the most vulnerable people in our world through Compassion’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.

So far, I received donations from $10 to $1,000 from some generous friends. All donations above $2 are tax deductible in Australia. Your contribution, of any amount, will put me closer to my target of $15,000.

The other way you can help to boost my total is to sponsor a child living in poverty. By using that link your sponsorship will count towards my fundraising goal while releasing a child from poverty in Jesus’ name.

Sponsorship gives kids safe places to play, the chance to see a doctor when they’re sick, education, and the opportunity to discover Jesus’ incredible love for them.

Sponsor a child. Give them a brighter future so they, and eventually their own children, can live free from poverty.

Whichever way you choose to support me and however much you choose to give, your contribution will not only help push me closer to reaching my target, you’ll also change the life of a child or children living with the devastating effects of extreme poverty.

Will you help me give more children a chance to live, dream and hope? Sponsor a child today or donate through my fundraising page.



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Have You Met Alphonse?

Have you met Alphonse? Alphonse is a child from Rwanda who is receiving ongoing help through Compassion’s Highly Vulnerable Children’s Fund. That’s the fund that Ride for Compassion Coast to Coast is supporting.

You can watch Alphonse’s story here:

Ride for Compassion: Alphonse's Story from Compassion Australia on Vimeo.

Today marks exactly two months from the first turn of the pedals on Ride for Compassion Coast to Coast. We’ll be riding for children just like Alphonse.

The ride will start in Perth, Western Australia on Saturday the 15th of September. We will arrive at Compassion’s head office in Newcastle, New South Wales on Tuesday the 16th of October. There’ll be 28 riding days and 4 rest days. The average riding distance for those riding days will be just over 150 kilometres. Our longest days will be just under 200 kilometres. There’ll be around 25 cyclists and a support team of around 9.

The team’s fundraising tally is currently stretching towards $250,000 with over 60 children sponsored but I’m sure we can go higher and offer a hand up to even more children.

Two Months Today

That first day’s ride between Perth and Northam will come so very quickly. Planning for this ride began some years ago and yet here we are, two months out, working towards that first day on the bike, then the second, then the third and so on all the way to the other side of the country.

More than 4,300 kilometres from west to east won’t happen unless there are thousands of kilometres in training beforehand. I’ve been on my bike quite a lot so far this year but there’s still a lot to be done.

It’s Too Important

The cause behind the ride is too important to treat lightly. Hundreds of children living in extreme poverty are depending on those of us making this journey and making it count. They don’t know we’ll be riding across the continent, they’ll probably never know, but it’s an important cause all the same.

There are children, just like Alphonse, who through no fault of their own are living in the most unacceptable circumstances. We plan to make a difference for as many of them as we can by offering them a hope more powerful than poverty.

If you’d like to support my ride you can do so in two ways.

I am personally seeking to raise $15,000. I really need your help to make that a reality.

You can make a direct donation to my fundraising page. Your donation will touch the lives of some of the most vulnerable people in our world through Compassion’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.

So far, I received donations from $10 to $1,000 from some generous friends. All donations above $2 are tax deductible in Australia. Your contribution, of any amount, will put me closer to my target of $15,000.

The other way you can help to boost my total is to sponsor a child living in poverty. By using that link your sponsorship will count towards my fundraising goal while releasing a child from poverty in Jesus’ name.

Sponsorship gives kids safe places to play, the chance to see a doctor when they’re sick, education, and the opportunity to discover Jesus’ incredible love for them.

Sponsor a child. Give them a brighter future so they, and eventually their own children, can live free from poverty.

Whichever way you choose to support me and however much you choose to give, your contribution will not only help push me closer to reaching my target, you’ll also change the life of a child or children living with the devastating effects of extreme poverty.

The Long and Winding Road

So there is quite literally a long road ahead for me beginning two months from today but the journey has already begun. I’ll be doing my best to fulfil my responsibilities in training, fundraising and then riding. Will you support me on this massive venture?

It’s unacceptable that millions of children are living in extreme poverty so I’m putting 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? Sponsor a child today or donate through my fundraising page.



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