Greg’s Rover Dream a legacy for Coone family

ARARAT - When Greg Coone passed away in 2012 unable to complete his dream of participating in the Adelaide to Darwin Veteran Rally on a motor bike which hadn't even been built at that stage, wife Deidre and daughters Jodie Thompson and Amanda Mahncke took up the thread of his dream and in August this year will themselves take part in the rally on a 1912 Rover.

The Rover Dream project will soon become reality and together with the Victoria Police Blue Ribbon Foundation Ararat Branch, will raise funds for East Grampians Health Service along the journey from Adelaide to Darwin.

In 2012 Greg and Deidre took part in an expedition across Australia for pre 1918 cars and motorcycles honouring the first crossing of Australia from Perth to Sydney as a co-rider for Neil Bromilow with Neil's restored 1912 Rover motorcycle.

With a life-long passion for all things mechanical, ranging from small engines to earth moving machines, it was only natural that Greg would return from this trip with a need to have his own veteran motorcycle.

"When he got back it was like, 'Well, I've got to get my own' and he bought a few bits and pieces and he was starting to gather bits and then he got sick," Deidre said.

Sadly Greg lost his short battle with lung cancer in October 2012, but right to the end the Rover was still a major focus and comfort to him.

A promise was made to Greg that Deidre, Jodie and Amanda would make the trip in 2014.

"I think while he was sick he and Ian Sargent, who are very good friends, talked about it and he (Ian) said 'Well, I'll make sure it gets going and the girls will ride it' and that's how it all started," Deidre said.

Jodie and Amanda will ride the bike and Deidre will follow along in the bus dubbed 'Panda's Bus - grand daughter Jasmine's pet name for Greg - towing the trailer known as 'The Workshop'.

This trailer is fitted out with lathe, press, welder, compressor and all tools necessary for giving the old engines the maximum chance of completing the trip. On the last trip in 2012 the workshop and mechanical skills of the team were appreciated by all that took part in the rally.

"Greg built the trailer specifically for that because he felt all the old cars and bikes would need constant attention and actually I was reading through a blog a driver had put up (online) about the trip and so many times he mentioned 'Thanks to the motorbike boys with the trailer', and I thought how nice was that," Deidre said.

Deidre, Jodie and Amanda will be accompanied on the trip by Ian and Jenny Sargent and son Daniel who will also ride their motor bikes.

"Ian and Daniel are just so mechanical and people came in (last trip) asking them to do stuff and I'm sure it will be the same this time," she said.

The 1912 Rover hasn't been an easy bike to get going, with Deidre saying that many of the parts had to be hand made because 'you just can't buy them any more'.

"We've had so many people making parts, donating their time, doing things and it's just been fantastic," she said.

The Rover is also a tricky beast to ride, requiring a pedal start (similar to a push bike) and there is also 'not much in the way of brakes' according to Deidre! In addition to this the petrol tank isn't large and the bike can only travel at a maximum speed of just 50-60kmh.

Despite all this the family is looking forward the trip which will leave Adelaide on August 3 and arrive in Darwin on August 24.

"I'm just so thrilled and that's why we've called it the Rover Dream because it was Greg's dream, it's quite emotional for me and the girls because Greg was such an avid 'anything mechanical'," Deidre said.

"He'd be pretty proud ... and he would know that we would do it."

While wanting to complete the ride to fulfil Greg's dream, the family also plans to raise some funds for a cause along the way.

In 1992 Greg, while riding his motorcycle, had a head on collision with another motorcyclist. After many operations his recovery was spent at the Ararat Hospital. Doctors, nurses and all staff went above and beyond during Greg's recovery, something he never forgot.

Greg was also a regular participant in the Blue Ribbon Foundation Grampians Ride to Remember, so the family decided, through the Foundation, to raise funds on the journey for the East Grampians Health Service.

Deidre stressed that while they are funding their own trip, the money raised along the way and through donations will go to the Ararat hospital.

Anyone who would like to donate to the Rover Dream project can go to www.trybooking.com/76585 or through the Victoria Police Blue Ribbon Foundation - Ararat Branch via cash, cheque or direct debit (supplied upon request).

You can also become a 'Workshop' supporter with limited advertising spaces on the trailer. For further details contact Jodie Thompson on 0402 267 094 or jodielthompson@hotmail.com. You can also follow the Rover Dream project via Facebook.

With the ride just five months away the Coone and Sargent families will be hard at work preparing their bikes and are looking forward to the Rover Dream coming true.

"I am most looking forward to seeing how the bike goes and the girls riding it... just to do it, and complete each day, it will be just fantastic," Deidre said.

"We've had so much help to get it up and going, we never would have done it all on our own, it's really amazing.

"From a little ride it's turning out to be big! It's good and I think we'll raise quite a bit of money - because everyone needs the hospital."

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