Convoy skips town

EDEN-MONARO Cancer Support Group is a home grown success story, but its major fundraiser The Convoy for Cancer won't come within a bull's roar of Queanbeyan this year, instead taking a new route through the western side of Canberra.

That's angered some locals, including Cameron Road resident Winifred Reid, who said she enjoyed taking her five kids and 12 grandkids to see the convoy each year.

"I can't see why they couldn't have started out at Sutton and driven into Queanbeyan, because a lot of the trucks that drive in the convoy are Queanbeyan based. It's really upset me that we've lost it," Mrs Reid said.

"A lot of people in Queanbeyan really look forward to this event every year, and a lot of people don't drive and can't get down to Tuggeranong to see it."

The convoy has been a popular local event in years' past, but hasn't run for the last two years due to organisational difficulties. Eden Monaro Cancer Support manager Melissa Gardiner said she wanted to revive the event this year and worked hard to have a Queanbeyan starting point, but couldn't come to a suitable arrangement with Queanbeyan City Council.

The group requested a starting point at Ellerton Drive, opposite Yass Road, however a Queanbeyan City Council spokesperson said that option would have caused too much disruption for residents. Council offered use of the show ground instead.

"The [Ellerton Drive] application was not approved as it would have required access to the Thomas Royal Gardens subdivision to be closed for one or two hours," the spokesperson said.

"Ellerton Drive is the only road in and out of Thomas Royal Gardens. This subdivision is home to hundreds of residents and shutting their entry for this amount of time is unacceptable and would impact on emergency services entering the area if required."

Ms Gardiner said she was grateful to Council for offering the show ground, but said it wouldn't have been able to accommodate the large number of trucks expected to take part.

"Trying to get two to three hundred trucks out of that show ground just wasn't going to work.

"And the reason we didn't finish at the show ground is that this year we're finishing with a huge family fun day. There's rides for big kids, little kids, there's food stalls, there's games, there's live bands. Plus we would never have fitted all the trucks in there," she said.

This year's convoy will be held on Saturday, February 2 and will start from Mitchell in the ACT, head down the Gungahlin Drive Extension, Tuggeranong Parkway and Drakeford Drive before finishing at the fields opposite Bunnings in Tuggeranong on Anketell Street.

Despite bypassing Queanbeyan, organisers are predicting a good turnout for the event, with Canberrans set to line Drakeford Drive near Kambah as the trucks make their way past.

The founder of Eden Monaro Cancer Support Group, Queanbeyan woman Yvonne Cuschieri (OAM) first started the group back in 1985 as a way to raise money for Queanbeyan cancer sufferers.

Although no longer on the convoy committee, she said she understood Queanbeyan residents would be disappointed to miss out on the convoy this year and hoped they would continue to support it.

"Queanbeyan loved the convoy coming through the town. They're going to be very disappointed: they've supported us all these years, but there's nothing we can do," Mrs Cuschieri said.

"I thank the truckies for all their past support and I'm sorry that we were unable to go through Queanbeyan, but I hope to see them at Tuggeranong," she said.

To register a truck in The Convoy for Cancer, phone the Eden Monaro Cancer Support Group on 6297 1261. You can also purchase Convoy for Cancer hats and T shirts from the office at 21 Cooma Street, Queanbeyan.

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