The Coast to Coast Bike Ride began through the Cairns School of Distance Education P&C Association in 1996/97 to initially address the need to build a multi-purpose activity centre for the school site in Cairns.
Early in the life of the event the decision was made to spread the benefits of funds raised to include many communities and organizations across the North Queensland region. The main criteria involved the benefits being focused on supporting and benefiting children who live in the remote rural areas of the region. Today beneficiaries include: Cairns School of Distance Education, State primary schools – including Mt Garnet, Mt Surprise, Georgetown, Croydon, Normanton and Karumba as well as child care centres, sports associations and more.
There is a rotating special beneficiary each year chosen from: Royal Flying Doctor Service, Burns Unit at the Royal Children’s Hospital and Children’s Services at the Cairns Base Hospital. The inclusion of special beneficiaries was in response to the overwhelming and continued support provided through several major organizations including the Queensland Police, Queensland Ambulance Service, Queensland Fire and Rescue Service, State Emergency Service, Australian Quarantine Services, Australian Customs, Australian Defence Forces and many more.
To date the event has raised and distributed in excess of $1,140,000. There are many unique aspects to the event including being predominantly volunteer based in organisation and management. Only the catering coordinator and ride coordinator are in receipt of honorariums due to the time, complexity and responsibilities attached to these voluntary roles. The ride took a pause in 2007 to review and reflect on its future. The interest and support demonstrated confirmed the events ongoing future and so we are back to a strong annual event since 2008.
Cairns School of Distance Education
Cairns School of Distance Education is a Queensland State School offering educational services to home based learners from Prep to Year 12. There are currently over 900 students enrolled in the school from all parts of Queensland and overseas.
The school’s culture is characterised by the provision of individualised curriculum and high levels of educational support, achieved through the establishing of close professional working relationships with students and home tutors. To learn more about the school simply visit the website at https://cairnssde.eq.edu.au/Pages/default.aspx
The multi-purpose centre at the School of Distance Education in Cairns has been built from funds raised from the event. The centre now provides a range of classroom facilities not previously available on site. Catering for art, science, drama, home economics and technology ensures the activity centre is well utilised. Students and families accessing the school in Cairns often travel long distances from remote areas and the kitchen, bathroom and accommodation area of the multi-purpose building have been a major benefit to the school community. Students and families of the school live and work on cattle stations, fishing boats, mining sites or maybe travelling (circus and show families), medical enrolments and home schooling across the Cape York, Gulf of Carpentaria and broader Far North Queensland area.
Once the activity centre was completed the funds from the ride have supported the introduction of telephone bridging into the school – this has seen the phasing out of HF radios and a much improved and very reliable communication system for students to undertake lessons over the phone. This includes core school subjects, languages, and special activities such as the school Eisteddfod, Scouts as well as instrumental music – quite an achievement. Schools including Mt Garnet, Mt Surprise, Georgetown, Croydon, Normanton and Karumba as well as other organisations receiving funds have purchased sporting equipment, shade on play areas, technology, computer and software packages, educational trips, swimming pool equipment, medical equipment, buildings and more.
The ride did not proceed in 2020 due to the restrictions imposed by the Covid-19 pandemic. However it resumed in 2021.