Cathy Freeman Foundation attempts world record for Indigenous education

GOOD VINTAGE: Co-pilot Mark Johnson and driver Andrew Cannon with the 1923 one-of-a-kind vintage Vauxhall car, outside Red Earth Hotel in Mount Isa. Photo: supplied
GOOD VINTAGE: Co-pilot Mark Johnson and driver Andrew Cannon with the 1923 one-of-a-kind vintage Vauxhall car, outside Red Earth Hotel in Mount Isa. Photo: supplied

Locals may have missed the Knight of the Order of Grimaldi sneaking through the North West this week, but they might have seen the wheels of his one-of-a-kind 1923 Presentation Vauxhall.

Founding Chair of The Cathy Freeman Foundation, Andrew Cannon AM, is celebrating 10 years of the Foundation's Indigenous education initiatives across Queensland and the Northern Territory.

Driver Andrew Cannon and co-pilot Mark Johnson stop for a rest and photo. Photo: supplied

Driver Andrew Cannon and co-pilot Mark Johnson stop for a rest and photo. Photo: supplied

Andrew is also the Consul for Monaco, and a keen vintage car collector.

“How many? I can’t tell you I’m afraid. My wife actually asked me the same question recently,” he said.

Together with his co-pilot and friend Mark Johnson, Andrew is half-way through an attempt to break the world record for the longest trip around Australia in a vintage automobile.

Stopping in Mount Isa on Friday, September 1, for a weekend’s rest, Andrew said the experience has been amazing.

“We’ve driven more than 6000km and it’s been great, I've seen spectacular scenery, camels, large eagles, and interesting people,” Andrew said.

Andrew Cannon's trip has taken him up through the middle of Australia, and through the North West to Townsville. Source: www.cathyfreemanfoundation.org.au/10000

Andrew Cannon's trip has taken him up through the middle of Australia, and through the North West to Townsville. Source: www.cathyfreemanfoundation.org.au/10000

“We’ve had hot, we’ve had cold, it was about to snow in Melbourne when we left, in Darwin we got up to 37 degrees and in the car it’s about 10 degrees hotter, so very hot.” 

Andrew said they have been heartened by the communities' responses.

"People love vintage cars, and everyone has been very friendly. The awareness has been great, from this trip alone we’ve got a couple of hundred of sponsors already, and we’ve raised $125,000, ” he said.

The foundation is hoping to raise $200,000 in total.

Andrew and his Vauxhall, trundling through the streets of Julia Creek. Photo: supplied

Andrew and his Vauxhall, trundling through the streets of Julia Creek. Photo: supplied

At an incredible 94 years old and having smashed 6000km so far, chitty bang bang is holding up well.

“We had a few problems in Alice Springs with the carburetor and the starter motor, but other than that the car has been really good.”

The beloved Vauxhall began its journey in Melbourne (where Andrew is based), driving all the way up to Darwin before heading through the North West; visiting Camooweal, Mount Isa, Cloncurry, Julia Creek, Richmond, Hughenden and Charter’s Towers.

Andrew services the car himself daily, and will stop in Townsville for a more major service in a few days’ time. 

If you would like to follow Andrew’s journey through the outback, or donate to The Cathy Freeman Foundation, visit www.cathyfreemanfoundation.org.au/10000

Andrew met Aboriginal Olympic runner, Cathy Freeman, in 2006 and accompanied her on a trip to Palm Island.

The Foundation started right then and there, when Cathy and Andrew gave out bikes to children to encourage school attendance.

Ten years later, the Foundation funds education programs in four remote communities in Queensland and the Northern Territory.

On Palm Island, education outcomes have been turned around dramatically; in 2016, the foundation recorded a 350% increase in the number of students completing Year 12.

The Cathy Freeman Foundation partners with four remote Indigenous communities: Palm Island, North Queensland; Woorabinda, Central Queensland; Wurrumiyanga, Bathurst Island, Northern Territory; and Galiwin’ku, Elcho Island, North East Arnhem Land, Northern Territory.