Australia 22 July: Bowen, Qld - Mackay, Qld

Sweet running through a sea of sugar

We started our day at Bowen State School, where we arrived early enough to be escorted across the street by the official attendant.

Here we gave a presentation to the children ...

We started with a group of about 40 kids ...

... but during our presentation the group grew considerably in size as new children came pouring in to start the school day. At the end of our presentation we had drawn quite a crowd!

We found the children in Bowen extremely smart, bright and well-behaved ...

... their eyes sparkled with enthusiasm and joy when they held the Torch and made their wishes for peace. Abhinabha was thrilled to meet a Dutch girl, Lola, who grew up in his native country but moved to Australia when she was seven years old.

As we ran two laps around the oval the Torch moved from hand to hand in bursts of delight and childlike exuberance. This is why we love schools so much: they bring out the happy and cheerful kid in us!

Heading out of Bowen, we passed by The Big Mango. This one seems to be always in season, though sadly for us the rest of Bowen's most famous crop are still a few months away from their ripe glory ...

Lovely running today through Northern Queensland’s beautiful countryside ...

The road meandered peacefully through the verdant land, walled in by sweetly rolling green hills.

After the rugged outback of the Northern Territory, it’s hard to believe we’re still in the same country. Rumour has it Australia even has mountains where one can ski!

This continent truly is a miniature version of Mother Earth ...

The Peace Run is a great way to get to know a country, since running is such a unique form of travel. You become totally immersed by the nature surrounding you out of which a feeling of oneness with the land arises.

Besides that the Peace Run provides wonderful opportunities to connect with the locals in our many ceremonies with schools and town councils along the road. Since peace is such a positive cause, it tends to bring out the best qualities in everyone. We’ve found the Australians to be very friendly, forthcoming and generous.

Somehow the heat and humidity seemed to have eased off today – or else we are just getting used to it ...

We hadn't expected to arrive in Proserpine so early, so with 40 minutes to spare we searched out a good place for a hot cuppa ...

... we all sat down in luxury, and enjoyed our little break and soaked up the holiday atmosphere.

Then all three teams converged on Whitsunday Regional Council building at 11:30 am and were warmly greeted by the Mayor, Jennifer Whitney and members of her council ...

Mayor Whitney kindly introduced the team to the rest of the council and spoke of our simple message and expressed how she wished all the hopes and goodwill from this run grow and flourish ...

... we sang our Peace Run song to an ppreciative audience ...

The Mayor then read out the letter from ACT Chief Minister ...

... and presented us with one from herself on behalf of the Whitsunday Regional Council for us to take back to Canberra.

Leah from The Guardian Newspaper (and fellow runner) was also there and spoke to a number of the runners and council members, inviting us outside ...

... to snap a few photos for her article ...

... before we all moved back inside for lunch.

As we started our second leg of running today, Irina from Vladivostok exclaimed as she ran in from her run that she was flying! She then went on to say about the ceremony in Proserpine, that we just had “good food made by very good people”. She may not have understood what was being said but she connected with everyone on a heart level and felt the goodness of everyone there.

We had more keen runners than kms today, but knowing how far we have yet to go on this journey to Brisbane and eventually to Canberra, some of us decided to have an 'easy' day and enjoy the short 10km that we did.

It was a lovely afternoon for running through a lovely part of this lovely country ...

For most of this afternoon we were running alongside and through the endless fields of sugar cane ...

... in many places the sugar cane is flowering, adding an extra colour and height to these already towering plants ...

... the train lines and signals for the narrow-guage sugar cane trains are omnipresent ...

The town of Mackay (population just under 100,000) was our destination for today. We enjoyed the park outside the municipal offices while our three teams gathered from their various directions ...

We were greeted most warmly and cordially by Mayor Deirdre Comerford ...

... and council members Laurence Bonaventura, Kevin Casey, Frank Gilbert, Alison Jones and Ross Walker.

We sang the Peace Run song for them and posed for a group picture outside the town hall.

Their communications manager Kathleen Price proved an enthusiastic runner and took a few steps with the Torch.

The mayor then surprised us with an original message she had written for the A.C.T.’s Chief Minister, Katy Gallagher, which we will present at our closing ceremony in Canberra on August 15th. Her words of support for the Peace Run were so heart-warming we feel obliged to quote:

“I myself feel a very strong connection to this initiative, having two adopted children from Taiwan. It would be fantastic to see my children grow up in the harmonious world described by the founder of this event, Sri Chinmoy.”

When parting, the mayor shared with us an illumining insight about peace, quoting an astronaut who had said how he wished everyone could share the view of planet earth from his vantage point in outer space. People would realise we are all one on this beautiful planet, and world peace would be achieved in an instant. We couldn’t agree more, as ‘oneness-home’ is the prefix for the Peace Run. As the Peace Run’s founder Sri Chinmoy emphasised on numerous occasions, we are all part of a oneness-world-family.

Bayarkhuu decided he would like a close-up photo of the Peace Flame ...

... so he first lined it up with his iPhone ...

... then realised it would be better to ask Irina to hold the Torch for him. Meanwhile Roos was on hand to capture Kaspars taking the photo of the moment ...

The whole team arrived at Mackay Marine Tourist Park and were warmly greeted by Cathy and Scott who are kindly hosting the team tonight ...

... thank you so much for your warm welcome and great place to camp!