Malcolm Leslie has dreamt of cycling across Australia since he pedalled around Europe more than 30 years ago.
On Friday 26 October, he cycled into Tathra NSW after a punishing 4,200km ride from Perth WA to raise money for Canberra’s homeless.
The 56-year-old project director, who leads the development team at Googong, was joined by workmate Johnathan Drury (45) and Johnathan’s twin brother Gavin, from Adelaide.
Starting in Perth, the team followed the cyclist’s tradition by dipping their back wheels in the Indian Ocean and their front wheels in the Pacific at Tathra, on the NSW south coast, where the ride ended.
As well as a bucket list adventure, the ride had a serious purpose: to raise awareness for homelessness and funds for Uniting Care’s Early Morning Centre (EMC), in Canberra City.
The EMC supports men and women, of all ages, who are homeless or on very low incomes. More than half are over the age of 45 years and many have lost contact with family and friends.
The centre provides breakfast for up to 50 people each morning and operates as a community hub, from 9am to 2pm, giving guests access to shower and laundry facilities, use of a computer, or free legal, health and welfare services, as well as entertainment and a safe and comfortable place for people to meet and socialise.
Malcolm has been a regular volunteer at the EMC for the past three years helping to serve breakfast to guests.
“Canberra has one of the highest average incomes and also one of the highest rates of homelessness,” he said. “The EMC is a wonderful organisation that helps people in a very practical way.”
The Breaking the Cycle ride has already raised more than $28,500 – almost treble the team’s initial target. The funds will be used to support new programs at the EMC, including Recipe for Success – a series of low-cost and nutritional cooking classes.
EMC director Nicole Wiggins said the ride would make a big difference to the centre’s operations.
“Although we receive government funding, we are very reliant on donations from our supporters to cover costs and enable us to introduce new programs and services,” Ms Wiggins said.
“Breaking the Cycle will make a big difference. It is a fabulous effort for the guys to donate their time and energy and such a massive undertaking to support us.
“Canberra has the second highest rate of rough sleepers in the country. Single men can wait up to two weeks for a bed. Many come from interstate and can’t believe there are no beds because this is the capital,” she said. You can pledge support to Breaking the Cycle online at mycause.com.au/page/182117/breaking-the-cycle