Ellis Beach Bike Show
When 800 bikers descend on a beachside café you can be sure something’s going to happen. In this instance, a Cairns family became the focus of two-wheeled generosity, receiving some $8000 in cold, hard cash.
Edged by the turquoise waters of the Coral Sea, Ellis Beach lies just north of Cairns on the winding road to Port Douglas. But once a year its tranquillity is shattered by the rumble of hundreds of bikes. For the past seven years, just before Easter, Prong and his mates hold the Ol’ Skool Bike Show at Ellis Beach Bar and Grill.
For those sufficiently aged, think of Bathurst’s Easter bike races in the mid ’70s. By way of an explanation for our younger brethren, Bathurst in the ’70s was a rite of passage into the world of motorcycling, both legal and perhaps a little less so. It could best be described as a proving ground – and we’re not talking about the race track!
Today, some of the characters who survived Bathurst and subsequent decades on two wheels have migrated to Far North Queensland where they emerge from their jungle retreats once a year to support this pre-’85 bike show.
Prong, the owner of Cairns Performance Motorcycles, created the pre-’85 theme. He explains with a wry grin on his bearded face. “It was around 1985 when kickstart levers disappeared from mainstream bikes. Since then, there hasn’t been much style in pressing a black plastic button to get your motor running!”
Bikes of all types and styles enter for trophies in the categories of Best of this and Best of that, but the real focus lies in the generosity of the bikers who queue up in order to make a cash donation to the cause. In recent years there have been more bikes outside the fenced judging area than inside, such is the popularity of the event.
In the lead up to the Ol’ Skool Bike Show, Prong hits the media to seek out news of local families doing it tough. The resulting letters are enough to make you weep, such is the pain and suffering that goes unnoticed in modern society.
“I’ve frequently had to walk away from my review of the letters,” Prong said. “I can’t absorb the hurt and hardship contained in the correspondence in one sitting. I’m not a soft guy, so people tell me, but I end up walking out of my house in tears and deeply shaken. I only wish I could generate a greater amount of money from the show in order to relieve more pain and suffering.”
Some of the recipients of Prong’s generosity have suffered leukaemia, other cancers and, in one instance, inadequate housing combined with terminal illness. Through the tyranny of distance, many have had to regularly travel to a capital city to receive ongoing specialist treatment with resulting high transport and accommodation costs.
Without exception, the unexpected, large financial injection resulting from the pre-’85 show has boosted every recipient in their ability to cope. Possibly of greater significance, each worthy person has also had their spirit lifted by the generosity of strangers, an intangible quality that is immeasurable.
The reaction by those who receive a bundle of cash in hand is equally humbling. A visible display of absolute disbelief washes over the faces of the recipient and family members. Frequent responses include, “But I don’t even ride a motorbike.”
“I don’t know you guys yet here you are handing me the difference between feeding my kids tonight and them going without a meal.” “I’ll even be able to pay my rent for the rest of the year.” “You can’t begin to understand how this generous gift will take the pressure off my family.”
So, this loosely knit bunch of two-wheeled ragamuffins from the Cairns region will again start planning for the weekend leading up to Easter. Businesses, individuals and clubs willingly donate in order to support Prong. The media gets into the groove and push the Ol’ Skool Show. Without exception, they know all the money raised will be handed over on the day of the show.
Many riders plan for an overnight stay at Ellis as the pre-show party can get a bit lively. And we all know how much bikers like to party! But those who choose to sleep under a coconut tree have to contend with the occasional crocodile seen roaming the beach in the lookout for an easy meal. We haven’t lost a biker to a croc yet. Perhaps crocodiles have better taste.