A CROWD of almost 50 people were involved – with 22 carts, drivers, grooms, passengers and support crews – in the 90km, four-day charity harness drive from Koonwarra to Alberton fundraising for Prostate Cancer services in Gippsland. Starting on Australia Day from the VLE Saleyards, the drive proceeded along the Great Southern Rail Trail to Port Welshpool Rd, then travelled along Telegraph and TiTree Roads to the Alberton Riverside Reserve on the South Gippsland Highway. By Day 4, other commitments and varying fitness levels resulted in just nine harness vehicles remaining on the drive.
Most drive participants came from across Gippsland, but crews arrived from as far as Moama, Nathalia and Bendigo to enjoy themselves. Lots of compliments were made about the trail quality, the scenery, the friendliness of the small towns (people came to take photos and admire the equines whenever there was a stop, or they met the drive on the rail trail) and the food.
Many people donated cash on the spot to the fundraiser. The event also raises awareness of prostate cancer and the need for men to check for it and take action if required. Consistent suggestions for event improvement were, “change the event’s frequency from every two years to annual” and “extend the number of days”!
Meals for the participants were sourced locally from Meeniyan Hotel, Long John Pickles, Fish Creek Roadhouse, Foster Take-Away, Latte Dah Cafe, Toora Hotel, Welshpool Supermarket, Welshpool Hotel and Alberton Hotel. Accommodation and drive organisation was also praised. Venus Bay Men’s Shed were fabulous donating chauffered mini bus services returning drivers back to their floats each day. VLE Saleyards, Bennison Rec Reserve Committee and Welshpool Rec Reserve Committee donated the accommodation use, while Buffalo Hall Committee charged a reduced fee. Yarram Men’s Shed, many Gippsland businesses and numerous drive participants donated prizes for a beaut, multi-winner fundraiser.
The drive information was shared by community groups on Facebook, including the Great Southern Rail Trail, Toora Community Action Group, Foster Community page, Toora 3962, and the harness driving community. Both South Gippsland Shire Council and CPB Contractors (working on the Koonwarra By-Pass) are congratulated for their help in assisting the drive conditions prior to the event starting with barrier removal and widening, verge mowing, gate access and online posting.
The donations have not yet been added up, but the final amount will be published when known. You can still donate for the next few days by contacting Leanne Prosser via text/phone on 0427 924 662 or email [email protected]