Bikers on bush tracks highlight hardshipsThursday July 25, 2013 - 08:22 EST
The inland route between Townsville and Port Douglas is a challenging, some might even say, rewarding journey.... particularly if you happen to be on a bike.
The Mates on Mountainbikes have ridden hundreds of kilometres along bush tracks and visited national parks, cattle stations and waterfalls along the way, while raising money for the Royal Flying Doctor Service.
The riders pulled up stumps overnight on Goshen Station, about 100 kilometres inland of Ingham.
For owners Ross and Maxine Blennerhassett and other graziers in the area isolation is a part of the rugged beauty of the country.
Less than 100 kilometres from the coast, it's still a fairly easy trip to the coast via a dirt road to the Bruce Highway at Kennedy, between Cardwell and Tully.
But that changed when the Kirrama Range Road closed seven years ago, around the time Ross became a quadriplegic after an accident on the property.
Since then, the area has been badly battered by cyclone Yasi and residents routinely isolated for months at a time when the flooded Herbert River prevents them accessing an alternative route.
Maxine Blennerhassett says it's a challenge bike riders and their support vehicles have experienced firsthand, even in the dry season.
"The support vehicles were struggling to get across the river actually, they'd come through Princess Hills and the (Herbert) is higher than normal for this time of the year."
"They're riding for an excellent cause, the Royal Flying Doctor Service and without that service, for people like us, we'd be totally lost.
"They've been a tremendous support to us since we've been here but even more so since we came home from hospital six years ago.
"It's a wonderful cause and we back them all the way."
The Blennerhassett's have welcomed a recent $6 million joint commitment by the Federal Government and Cassowary Coast Regional Council to fix the Kirrama Range Road.
But the council has come under fire from critics who say the investment is placing an unfair burden on ratepayers in the cash-strapped shire.
"When you see the support that the Kirrama Range Road Support Group had behind them and their relentless efforts in getting to the stage where we're at at the moment, it's definitely not just our personal use as some people are suggesting."
"It's for the community of Cardwell... it's tourists, it's campers, the indigenous. It's for everybody, not just the so-called handful of graziers that people seem to think it is."
© ABC 2013
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