-From media release -
Promoting tourism in Papua New Guinea with the Tour de New Ireland Cycle Event
Bright banners, enthusiastic whistles and the cry of a conch shell welcomed over 100 riders to the start line of the inaugural Tour de New Ireland cycling event on 9 March in Karu, New Ireland.
The riders came from all over Papua New Guinea. There were many participants from the local community including athletes of all ages from children to grandparents. They were joined by Michael Milton, Australian Paralympic champion, and Olivia Gollan, Australian Olympic cyclist, who came from Australia to enjoy the event.
Bike riding is popular in New Ireland, and riders certainly showed off their skills at this event! Cyclists rode 10, 20 or 60 kilometres along the beautiful resealed Boluminski Highway, following the coast almost the entire way. Despite the challenging terrain and the heat, cyclists returned to the finish line in buoyant spirits to be met by cheering spectators with smiles on their faces.
Local member for Namatanai, the Hon Walter Schnaubelt MP, was one of the many riders who took to the road to give the course a go, encouraging his community to live healthy lifestyles. He also presented awards to the fastest three riders in the 10 kilometre course, which included a young boy still in primary school!
After a long, hard ride, Michael Milton and Olivia Gollan were among the last to finish, crossing the line together after spending most of the event encouraging other riders.
Olivia and Michael take back to Australia memories of an extremely positive experience, both on the day and the days beforehand spent sharing their experiences as professional athletes with local school children.
The event showcased a unique and attractive part of Papua New Guinea that has much to offer local and international tourists. With all the possible benefits to communities from greater tourism, it is hoped that this event will lead to more interest in travelling to New Ireland to sample the many interesting activities, including cycling.
However, this event was not just about promoting tourism to this remarkable part of Papua New Guinea, it also had a serious message – “Riding Together to End Domestic Violence”, as part of Newcrest Mining Trupla Man Trupla Meri program. Before cyclists took to the course, they all made a pledge to do their own part in ending domestic violence, and cyclists all wore the message proudly on their event jerseys. Over 20 Newcrest employees also joined the ride to help spread the anti-violence message along the Highway.
Speaking at the event, Jodie Buchanan, First Secretary at the Australian High Commission, commented that,
This event was made possible through the New Ireland Provincial Government, especially the New Ireland Tourism Authority, and the Department of Works with support from the Papua New Guinea-Australia partnership and Newcrest Mining Limited.
Photos: Jerry Albaniel
Image 1 - 132 cyclists at the start line, Karu, New Ireland
Image 2 - Cyclists riding along the Boluminski Highway
Image 3 - Cyclists riding along the Boluminski Highway
Image 4 - Cyclist coasting into the finish line
Image 5 - Hon Walter Schnaubelt awarding trophy to Augustine Netam, 10km 3rd Place
Image 6 - Triathletes with the New Ireland Triathlon Academy at the finish line
Image 7 - Awarding 60km 1st Place to Adrian Rollins, L-R: Isikeli Taureka, Mike Milton, Walter Schnaubelt, Adrian Rollins, Jodie Buchanan.