Jump on board ‘Ride to the Other Side’

Mower driver Craig Alford from Perth

Mower driver Craig Alford from Perth

ARARAT - If you were travelling along the Western Highway recently you probably came across a man on a mower.

Not moving at speed, but that is the point of the unique fundraising 'drive' which is only part way through its six year journey.

'Ride to the Other Side', as it is known, involves a Hustler Super Z ride-on mower being driven 15,000 kilometres to raise $1 million for Rotary projects and other important charities.

Craig Alford, part owner of Armadale Mower World in Perth and from the Rotary Club of Armadale, Western Australia came up with the idea several years ago.

He is leading a team of 12 volunteers who have kindly donated their time and efforts to help co-ordinate and carry out the ridden expedition.

"I organised a team and commenced this project in 2012 and named it 'Ride to the Other Side'," Mr Alford said.

"We have so far completed two legs of our trip; in 2012 from Perth to Kalgoorlie and 2013 from Kalgoorlie to Adelaide."

The first leg completed in March 2012, raised more than $65,000. The second, from Kalgoorlie to Adelaide, culminated at the Clipsal 500 V8 Supercar round in February 2013, having raised a similar amount.

In 2014, the crew has taken on its biggest challenge yet: a journey across land and sea from Adelaide to Sydney, with the goal of raising $200,000.

The third leg of the trip commenced in Adelaide and will take in Melbourne, Hobart, Canberra before ending in Sydney for the start of the Rotary Convention on Sunday.

The team of up to seven Rotarians spent the night in Ararat where they happily displayed the mower for keen onlookers and bewildered observers who may have been a little shocked by what they saw.

"Each year, we're helping out a different set of charity organisations, because when we say we're riding to get to 'the other side', we're not just talking about geography," Mr Alford said.

"We're riding this lawn mower to help people get to where the grass is greener."

The self sufficient crew has stayed in sports halls, sheds, community halls, caravan parks and Rotarians' homes across the Nullarbor.

Over the past two years the fundraiser has raised more than $130,000 and these funds have been distributed to various charities including Wheels for Hope, Australian Rotary Health and EJ Whitten Foundation.

This year funds raised will go towards the EJ Whitten Foundation which is involved with Prostate Cancer Research, Australian Rotary Health (ARH) and Rotary Foundation- End Polio Now.

If a donation is to ARH or Foundation then the club gets the Rotary credit for that donation and it goes on the ride funds raised total.

Any donations to Rotary Foundation- End Polio Now will gain the added benefit of a match from the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation of double the donation.

"We're seeking large and small sponsors for the ride. Major sponsors receive a package of public acknowledgements, with national brand exposure," Mr Alford said.

"Whatever you can manage will help us to secure vital funds for this year's target charities: The EJ Whitten Foundation for prostate cancer awareness and research, and Australian Rotary Health's Mental Illness Research program."

To join the adventure contact ride leader Craig Alford: craig@ridetotheotherside.org.au, 0417 172 651. For more information visit www.ridetotheotherside.org.au.

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