Australia 16 February: Uralla, NSW - Tamworth, NSW

Country Music Country

The Peace Run started today in Uralla where we were greeted by Mayor Michael Pearce. After the welcome to country he expressed to us what an auspicious occasion it was to welcome the Peace Run to Uralla and hoped we had enjoyed our short time here in the beautiful little town of Uralla.

Mayor Pearce then introduced a wonderful young citizen of Uralla – 16-year-old Gemma Weguelin, a Uralla Central School senior student who has already shown a well-developed sense of social justice and personal integrity. Gemma has been interested in advocating for causes since her Primary School years and has actively sought leadership roles to be in a position to advocate passionately for causes she believes in. She has been a proactive participant in Youth Mentoring programs and was recognised by her peers for outstanding contribution and skills in the NSW Youth Parliament.

The ceremony today was held alongside by a public Nature path. To commemorate the occasion, one of the trees adjacent to this path was now dedicated as a Peace Tree. The Mayor explained that this plaque will take pride and place here in Uralla and foresaw that this plaque and tree would now become a place for people to come and have a think about peace and their own lives.

The Peace Torch was then lit briefly so that all in attendance could hold the flaming torch, including Gemma's parents Bec and Adam and Sister Abby. Her neighbour Lynn also joined, then Council's Isabell and Natasha who along with Mayor Michael joined the Torch for the first steps of its onward journey today. Natasha then joined the women's team to run us further out of Uralla: a perfect conclusion to a wonderful morning in – as the Mayor so perfectly put it – “this beautiful little town of Uralla.”

After bidding farewell to Natasha ...

... the women’s team continued along the New England Highway towards Tamworth.

It was a cool morning so we all enjoyed the first leg of our run, expressing how fast the kms seemed to be just ticking by.

The temperature had increased as the day progressed so we decreased the miles of each leg. We completed our day’s allotment just in time to make the next engagement in Tamworth.

Meanwhile, our men's team had commenced their day's running further along the highway, also bound for Tamworth.

After several days of what seemed like endless uphill running, the Moonbi Hills, which lead down from the Great Dividing Range towards Tamworth, came as a most welcome surprise!

Tamworth is renowned as Australia’s Capital of Country Music, so our men’s team were eager to visit The Big Golden Guitar. As one of the boys quipped, this particular guitar has “no strings attached.”

Arriving early in Tamworth, we were greeted on the street by a lady who is a member of "Running Mum's", an active running network with 30,000 members Australia-wide, who had already seen the Torch at various points along the road.

The Mayor of Tamworth, Col Murray was waiting to greet the team of international runners outside the Tamworth Regional Council headquarters, accompanied by his assistants who have done so much to organise today’s event, Barry Harley and Emily Bowman.

After officially presenting the Torch to the Mayor outside, the gathering moved indoors for the formal proceedings. Devashishu Torpy from London, England, spoke of the vision of the Peace Run founder, Sri Chinmoy – a vision of “a torch to go out into the world to share the simple message that we are one family, united in our quest for our most precious possession, peace.” He went on to describe the purpose and progress of the present relay around the globe, including every country of the Southern Hemisphere.

The Mayor then presented the Award medallion and certificate to Eddie Whitham, a Tamworth local who has dedicated his life to serving those in need, in particular to migrants and refugees arriving from troubled parts of the world.

Eddie Whitham commenced his acceptance remarks by thanking everyone who has helped over the many years of his involvement in the local community, and summed up his approach humbly, succinctly and beautifully: “To everyone who has no family, we say: ‘we are your family!’ That’s how we see it.”

After the Torch-Bearer Award presentation, the members of the international team introduced themselves, and the Peace Torch was passed to all present. A Certificate of Appreciation was handed to Mayor Murray from the members of the Peace Run team.

3 of our men’s team are sleeping in style this evening at Cadman Motor Inn, where Andrew welcomed us with a large and generous heart. Recently, Andrew and his family drove in their land rover from Wollongong to London!

We then met up with Andrew’s children, Isabelle and Jack along with several of Isabelle’s friends who had just come from the hotel’s swimming pool and were eager to hold the Peace Torch and hear tales from the road. The land rover which the family drove to London is behind the children.

Ann at the Tamworth Motor Inn hosted two of our women's team tonight, thank you so much for having us!

Peter and Megs of Quest Apartment Hotels Tamworth kindly hosted four of the girls team tonight and insisted we take extra towels to have a quick swim before dinner and our team meeting!