Phillips finds resolve as ambassador

Born in Mauritius and growing up in Adelaide, I realised I was a nature boy and took every opportunity to go bush. One of six siblings meant I had to fight for my food in a kind way.

The majority of my adult life has been spent working in education and training with an emphasis on land management and conservation within Far West Aboriginal Communities of SA. I played about 200 games of senior football and 33 seasons of cricket, to which I am still waiting for match payments for my retirement.

I moved to Ceduna in 1999 to accept the ATSIC Regional Training and Employment Manager Position and have been working in this field ever since. I have been privileged to go bush for extended periods with senior men from Oak Valley and Yalata, which exposed me to remote Aboriginal living and beliefs.

In January 2007, our daughter Tash was murdered in Adelaide as a result of sustained and brutal domestic violence from her partner. To say these events put extreme levels of pressure on our marriage was an understatement. Media, Major Crime, Department of Public Prosecution, Victims of Crime and psychologists seemed to form part of our family as they were in contact seemingly every day. The events soon consumed our lives with no respite, no time for our brains to rest.

Five years ago I lost the other love of my life, my wife Di was diagnosed with lung and brain cancer and after a short, determined battle she succumbed to its effects. Both loves of my life were taken from me far too prematurely. My only modicum of comfort is that mother and daughter are together somewhere up there. I became a White Ribbon Ambassador, but the honour of wearing the badge and title was not enough so I hatched a plan. I hoped to achieve an epic and ambitious solo motorcycle ride around the circumference of Australia, some 15,800 kms, or the distance from Adelaide to Stockholm to tell Tashy’s story and raise awareness of the White Ribbon cause via speaking engagements and media appearances.

For the first two days I scoured my rear view mirrors, desperately searching for my wife and riding buddy of 27 years. I was like the movie Red Dog, I was missing my best friend. I realised Di was not with me and my crying in the helmet would only compound what was already an huge challenge.

I fondly remember setting up the tent near Kununurra. I drove the last peg into the ground when I felt a pair of eyes on me, a four metre croc decided to take up co-residency with me for the night. I was not shifting because I was buggered and wanted to do nothing but sleep. He was as determined as I was not to move even after I threw several stones in his direction. A stalemate was reached so I decided that security was in order so I zipped up my tent flap that night.

Not sure how but after 63 days in the saddle I made it. ‘Iron butt’ is a term for extreme long distance motorcycle riders, not sure if I am there yet but I can lay claim to 13 Nullarbor crossings and three full laps of Australia all on my beloved two wheel stallion. I started a “spot funding” pool of money, all raised from Eyre Peninsula residents/businesses and is being used for women in domestic violence crises on EP only. I am happy to come and present my story of resilience at your club or community.

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