12 August 2023

Canberra sparky is riding from Parliament House to Uluru to speak up for the Voice

| Chris Roe
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long-distance cyclist

Dheiu Biar Mading is still smiling as he approaches Wagga on his way from Canberra to Uluru. Photo: Chris Roe.

It’s a cloudy Friday afternoon and Dheiu Biar Mading has his hood pulled tight as he pedals his mountain bike up the hills along the Sturt Highway towards Wagga Wagga.

It’s cold and he’s battling pain in his Achilles tendon, but the 37-year-old electrician is still smiling and has a lot of cycling ahead to complete his journey from his home in Canberra to Uluru at the nation’s heart.

Dheiu hopes to raise awareness about the Indigenous Voice to Parliament and is encouraging people to carefully consider how they will vote in the referendum later this year.

“I’m being optimistically active and just trying to get people to talk about the Voice with their family and friends and to really do their research and see what it means for them,” he says.

“I sincerely hope that if they come to the table with sincerity and with honesty, and not with clouded political goggles, they will choose to vote Yes, because they’re not asking too much. They’re just asking to be heard.”

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Dheiu set out on his 2600 km journey on Wednesday, cycling from Canberra to Yass, then to Gundagai and on to Wagga. He’s aiming to continue north-west to Uluru via Port Augusta.

“It’s been in the back of my mind for a while and I’ve had to juggle work and school and stuff like that, but the stars eventually aligned and everything just galvanised,” he says.

“I’ve got roughly 28 days to get there, with work constraints.

“I don’t want to have to call the boss to ask for more time but I’ll see how I go. My Achilles tendon is pretty sore every time I’m pedalling down, but it’s OK.”

With several adventures behind him already, Dheiu says cycling is a great way to see the country and meet people.

“It’s such a beautiful country and whether you’re riding to Uluru or anywhere else, it’s great to get out in the open country,” he says.

“I’m camping as I go along, although last night I did stop at a hotel because day two was ruthless and just cold and rainy and windy. It was tough.”

long-distance cyclist

Following the wind and rain after leaving Canberra, Dheiu is looking forward to warmer weather as he approaches Uluru. Photo: Chris Roe.

The seed of the idea for his ride was planted in the wake of last year’s federal election when incoming Prime Minister Anthony Albanese committed to a referendum on the Voice.

“I think it has been a long time that Indigenous people have been wanting the Australian population to hear them,” Dheiu explains.

“In ’67, they said that they wanted to be counted and in 2023, they want to be heard.

“I’m just a regular citizen, but I think we can just feel powerless on our couches and watching our TV screens, or we can try and do something.”

long-distance cyclist

Dheiu Biar Mading is on a mission to get people to examine the Voice “with sincerity”. Photo: Supplied.

Reflecting on Opposition leader Peter Dutton’s decision to reject the Voice, Dheiu says it’s about being on the right side of history.

“I don’t want people to do what Peter Dutton has done in relation to the apology to the Stolen Generation when he didn’t show up. And what does he say now? He’s very regretful.

“I want people to honestly think about it because if they vote No because they haven’t done their research and tried to understand, I hope for you that in 20 years’ time we don’t look back in regret.”

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As committed an advocate for the Voice as he is, Dheiu is not looking for an argument, and instead gently encourages people to make an informed decision.

“Just look at the issue with sincerity and just listen to what Indigenous people have been telling us for a very long time.”

With a date for the referendum yet to be set, Dheiu says he will keep pushing forward towards Uluru “one pedal at a time!”.

You can follow Dheiu’s adventures here or with the hashtag #CBR2Uluru.

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