Australia 21 July: Townsville, QLD - Bowen, Qld

Beautiful North Queensland

After our day off yesterday, this morning we gathered at the Cotters Market, Townsville's award-winning street market ...

... we met several people in cafes and on the street who were fascinated to learn about the Peace Run ...

Today we welcome two new members to our girls' team – Rupasi Young from the USA, a veteran of many Peace Runs in other parts of the world, who is making her first visit to Australia ...

... and Tahereh Ziaian, originally from Iran and now living in Adelaide, who will be joining our team as far as Brisbane ...

At 9 a.m. we were welcomed officially to Townsville by the Deputy Mayor, Vern Veitch, who received the Peace Run on behalf of the city council and the mayor ...

Vern was a fount of information all about his adopted city, and showed us tremendous kindness and encouragement ...

... he then walked with us along the mall, while the crowds were informed about the Peace Run over the PA system ...

Local television stations Channel 7 and WINnews were there to cover the meeting ...

... and had us stage another run along the mall for the cameras ...

... they also interviewed some of the runners (us!) about our experiences and motivation.

Wes from the Townsville Bulletin was there to photograph proceedings ...

Vern, the Deputy Mayor, was very kind to us and gave a heart-warming speech to the crowds, referring to the importance of striving for peace and harmonious cooperation ...

... we then migled with the townsfolk enjoying such a perfect Sunday morning in Townsville ...

We bid farewell to Chris and Janice (Rathin's mum) who have been such wonderful hosts to our team here in Townsville.

Before departing Townsville, we could't resist a quick run up Castle Hill to enjoy the magnificent panorama of the city, harbour, Magnetic Island and hinterland ...

... what a wonderful few days we have enjoyed in this friendly, bustling city!

We said goodbye to Townsville’s many charms and continued our path down south, the last leg of the Australian Peace Run. If this had been a 400 metre race we would now be on the home straight, sprinting our last 3000 kilometres towards Canberra ...

The traffic here along the Bruce Highway is consistentlly the busiest we have experienced yet on our journey ...

The rest day yesterday did everybody a world of good, but it felt great to be out on the road again, eating the miles and spreading the smiles.

We encountered many cheerful drivers today, waving and honking enthusiastically. At one point a military convoy passed us, all hearty waves and cheers for our peaceful initiative. It made us realise we’re all working for the same goal, albeit in different ways.

Here Abhinabha and Samalya perform their various routines in between sessions on the road ...

Sometimes it’s good to do a little sprinting, even on a mammoth journey such as this. Abhinabha decided to cram in an interval session today, running 4 times 2 km fast in the heat of the day. At the end of his last repetition a camper van pulled over and a French couple emerged to take a picture and inquire about the Run. Still panting and sweating profusely from his hard effort he informed them as well as could be managed.

A little ahead on the road, our second boys team met at McDonalds Family Restaurant in Ayr, with the Deputy Mayor of Burdekin Shire Council ...

... Councillor Pierina Dalle Cort, who received us most graciously and immediately brought refreshing drinks for our team – even though we hadn't yet run an inch today!

Cr Dalle Cort was accommpanied by another Council member, Ted Bawden ...

... and Ted's wife.

We are also very grateful to Paul Rissman, the owner of McDonalds in Ayr, who hosted our team. He is represented here by duty manager Jessica ...

Other patrons at McDonalds were happy to get involved with the Peace Run ...

... before we left (and started our running for the day) there was one final photo with our new friends from Burdekin Shire Council, for photographer Chris, of the local newspaper, the Ayr Advocate.

Our girls team had set off from Townsville mid morning to drive to Ayr (where we didn't get to visit McDonalds) ...

... and from there we ran 56km. Our team had changed slightly again with Uddyogini leaving us last night and Tahereh joining, giving us a total of 5 runners in our van ...

Rupasi was our first runner to go out on the road for her first official run on the Peace Run in Australia ...

... on her first run, she was treated to a nice bridge ...

... she is a veteran Peace Runner so we had confidence she would find the small path on the opposite side of where we normally run ...

... sure enough, here she comes, all smiles.

Tahereh also had her first run shortly after. She is so happy to be on the team :-)

It was another hot and humid day ...

This area is a big producer of tropical fruit, and there are many roadside stalls with the freshest produce ...

Even tropical fruit though, must take a back seat to sugar cane, which rules supreme all along the coastal plain for hundreds of kms ...

... we are right in the harvesting season, so the little trains which haul the freshly cropped sugar cane are busier-than-the-busiest these days.

We were all very grateful to make it to the van after our running and try very hard to cool down before we went out again.

After their meeting in Ayr, the second boys team drove ahead to their designated starting point and – finally – started running!

Just as we were getting into our stride ...

... this happened.

Bayarkhuu finished his second 10km stint for the day just in time ...

... to dive straight under the van to assist with the operation ...

... our other boys team turned up quite fortuitously at the same moment ...

... and we were soon enough on our way.

Aion, from New Zealand enjoyed his first run with the team today. We collected him from the airport in Townsville only this morning.

Once our girls team finished running for the day, we all made it down to the foreshore at Bowen to meet the Deputy Mayor, Andrew Wilcox ...

... he welcomed us to beautiful Bowen ...

... and showed us around the foreshore introducing us to all the locals on the way ...

Picnicking in one area was Luke Parter, who had recently received the award "Mr NAIDOC". NAIDOC stands for National Aborigines and Islanders Day Observance Committee, and the award recognises the contributions of Indigenous Australians in various fields.

Luke is an outstanding individual: he performs numerous volunteer works in and around Bowen, including at the Police Citizens Youth Club. We commend you Luke, for all that you are doing in your community.

As we walked along the foreshore we met two tourists from Belgium who did not speak any English, but saw us with the Peace Flame and called out: "Kaspars"! – Kaspars is one of our team members and he had befriended them in Richmond last week. They were so excited to see us that we had to take their photo to show Kaspars that they were here ...

Andrew also stopped two keen runners, Emma and Helen, who were going for their evening jog ...

... he was telling everyone in sight they had to hold the Torch and make a wish for Peace, and the great thing is he seemed to know absolutely everyone in Bowen ... but then he has lived here his whole life. And when you were walking along the beach you could see why ...

... on our way back to the vans we were treated to sunset at the beach, a great way to send off another spectacular day on the Peace Run ...

Our girls team are staying at two separate locations tonight. Rupasi, Irina and Tahereh were warming welcomed by Anita at Port Denison Motor Inn ...

... while Roos and Stacey were treated to the wonderful hospitality of Helen at Castle Motor Lodge ...

... who also kindly offered us breakfast in the morning.

Most of our boys team were put up in the Oceanview Motel in Bowen, with – wouldn’t you know it – a gorgeous view of the ocean! Since the tide was low and the ocean far away, we chose to jump in the pool instead ...

... while Bayarkhuu, Kaspars and Prachar stayed down the road at the Bowen Arrow Motel, courtesy of Erika and Brett, who opened up the swimming pool just for us the moment we arrived!