The Queensland city of Bundaberg is famous for many things.
Its sugar. Definitely its world renowned rum. Even aviation thanks to the pioneering pilot Bert Hinkler.
Aussie band GANGgajang wrote their iconic anthem Sounds of Then (This is Australia) as an ode to his youth growing up in the ‘Berg.
“Out on the patio we sit … we’d watch the lightning crack over cane fields … this is Australia.”
And it’s produced some seriously talented athletes over the years too.
The man Sir Donald Bradman reckoned was cricket’s greatest ever wicketkeeper – Don Tallon.
Rugby league immortal Mal Meninga was born in Bundy.
And worthy of a spot on the same list is cycling star Allan Davis.
He’s racked up more than 50 professional victories in one of the toughest sports on the planet.
We first crossed paths in the late 90’s. I’d moved to town for my first job – writing sport for the local paper. And back then, while it was purely local content – the quality was good.
The Davis family was well known in the area for their cycling feats.
Allan and his brother Scott. Their sister Amanda was pretty handy too. It seemed every second week I was putting in a call to the Davis home for a yarn about one of the siblings as they blazed a trail on roads and tracks across the country.
That continued when I moved over to Channel 7 to do the local TV news – especially when the trio were among the star attractions at the annual velodrome carnival.
A few years later, he’d moved to San Sebastian in the north of Spain. It’s a traditional cyclist playground where the elite go to ply their trade.
While backpacking in 2004, we even boarded an overnight train from Lisbon to check it out and see where “Alby” was making his mark on professional circuit.
By 2006, I was in Perth working for Channel 9. Tasked with covering the Commonwealth Games, I reported on Alby winning bronze in the mens road race.
The gold medal would come four years later in Delhi. This time, I was there to see it unfold – working for Channel 10.
13 years after our worlds collided, there was the little bloke from Bundaberg winning a gold medal for his country – in India! Gee I was bloody proud!
It hadn’t been an easy ride – no pun intended.
Throughout the four years prior, while I’d been working for TEN’s Sports Tonight program, we’d spoken several times on and off the record about his journey as he won the Tour Down Under and climbed through the ranks to be riding in the world’s premier race – the Tour de France.
On one occasion we even caught up at Sydney airport to record an interview en route to somewhere way more glamorous abroad.
Veteran sports journalist Peter Kogoy – a great bloke, a passionate cycling fan and loyal student of the sport through his work – knew of my friendship with Allan.
Whenever we’d bump into each other – regularly through that era – our conversations would always start with a similar tone.
“You spoken to Alby lately?”
“How’s Alby going?”
Or even with a story about something he’d achieved abroad – “how about Alby in (insert name of obscure European town and name of equally random race) which I rarely had any intel on. I’d nod and try and sound equally informed with a vague conversation. Kogoy knew his stuff!
And so, when Alby got in touch with me last week to ask me to be a guest on his new series Alby’s Analytics Podcast I was thrilled to be involved.
From his place in Spain, we had a good chat about our past lives but focused primarily on my podcast CHILDERS – The Full Story – as he reflected on his own memories of what happened at the Palace Backpackers Hostel in June 2000.
On Alby’s podcast you’ll find his expert analysis of the Tour de France that’s happening in Europe at the moment.
But he’s also keen to talk to people from all walks of life about projects they are working on. I’m humbled that he’s given up his time to discuss my podcast about the Childers fire.
Best of luck with the podcast mate. It’s a lot of work! But a lot of fun! I look forward to see it evolve.
You can find the episode with me on ALBY’S ANALYTICS PODCAST by CLICKING HERE