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With John Gorman

by Sam Regi
A portrait of John Gorman or Bluey

John on his motorbike.

John, fondly nicknamed, Bluey, a former police officer, police union vice president and the driving force behind the creation of the Police Remembrance Day. Inspired by a moment of frustration during a road trip, John's determination led to the establishment of a day dedicated to honoring fallen officers. Join him as he shares the remarkable story of the Wall to Wall Ride, an annual event where thousands of motorcyclists come together to pay tribute and remember those who made the ultimate sacrifice. Experience the powerful sense of camaraderie and respect that permeates this heartfelt gathering, a testament to John's unwavering commitment to honoring the memory of his mates.

00:00 / 08:25

Press play to listen to an extract from the conversation with John.

8/150 Minutes
 

00:00:15:07 - 00:00:53:06
JOHN
I was police union vice president in 1986, 85. Before Fitzgerald, anyway. That's my police life is before Fitzgerald and after Fitzgerald. Atleast with most bloked from my generation. Rememberance Day started - I was driving with my then wife. My mate and his wife from here to Adelaid for the Police Federation conference, that’s all the police unions associations in Australia and New Zealand. We met somewhere every year.

00:00:53:08 - 00:01:20:05
JOHN
It was in Adelaide. I stopped in a place called Wilcannia. And if that’s not the pimple on the arse of the earth, you can see it from there. We were heading from there to Broken Hill and it's two or 300 kilometers of desert or close enough to desert. Everybody else in the car was asleep and I was trying to think of the name of a copper who got killed three or four or five years before and I couldn’t think of his name.

00:01:22:18 - 00:01:52:16
JOHN
And I was filthy with myself. So, I mean, a real anger at myself. And my mate, Cole, woke up and I said, Hey, listen, that bloke. Oh, yes. that’s so and so. And he said - what are you talking about and I said, mate I’ve been sitting here trying to think of his name and I wanted to give myself a hit in the guts. Oh, we went to, we went to the Federation conference and I lobbied everybody and told them what happened, you know, in individual groups.

00:01:52:18 - 00:02:27:12
JOHN
I said, This fucking disgrace. And the bloke got killed and I couldn't even think of his name. So we got to get a day, where we remember him. So along with the conference and we got through the conference there and then said to the commissioners they agreed. And away it went. Now every year here we march from headquarters to usually 1 of 3 of the St Johns Cathedral or St Stephens Cathedral. Or the other. Different states do it differently.

00:02:27:14 - 00:02:59:00
JOHN
Victoria do theirs in the city, or near the city. Tasmania in the academy and different places do it differently but each state has got a memorial wall of all the people that they've lost since the start. I think there’s 149 in Queensland or 150. and there's the national wall in Canberra that everybody's on from all the states.

00:02:59:00 - 00:03:38:08
JOHN
All the states, there's 760 on there I think. A bloke from New South Wales who had been a woodworker made up batons like our wooden batons and hollowed them out and put a screw top on. And it's only a, it's a symbolic thing, but the commissioner writes the name of anybody we lose that year on a bit of parchment paper goes in the back, and then someone on the ride carries it to Canberra and we lay them all at the base of the national war, hence the name Wall to Wall.

00:03:38:10 - 00:04:06:23
JOHN
Each state goes and we all, you know, some go with them, and some go separate, but they all meet up in Sydney on the Saturday morning, they have a little ceremony at their wall and then we ride from there to the Goulburn Academy in the ACT. Motorbikes come from Canberra up to Goulburn, meet us there, and then we ride to the wall.

00:04:06:23 - 00:05:12:11
JOHN
By the time we've left there there's 8 to 10 bikes and four or five cars and, and at one stretch out in the Hume highway, is a big long stretch and they get the police helicopter up and video it coming down and it's brilliant but it's just a little silly thing. Last year we got along and could see the helicopter right at this stage is probably a thousand - 1400 motorbikes and oh yeah, this chopper, there's a bridge and everywhere in the Hume Highway, where there's been a copper killed, they have a big poster with his photo on two highway patrol cars with the strobes going.

00:05:12:13 - 00:06:45:02
JOHN
And we all slow down as we go past. Last year we got to Canberra, there was, they all meet up in Canberra, came to what they call the epicenter. It's the showground and then we ride and one group. Canberra being Canberra, that’s why we do it on a Saturday. But one of the reasons a lot of people can't get away because not only coppers, it's I've got a trucking mate of mine, he does this because his mates a copper and there are ambos and firies, everybody comes in, then we all meet up and ride in one group.

00:06:45:04 - 00:07:20:21
JOHN
Last year, 3000 motorbikes, The sound of it. Something special. Because you've got all the Harley wankers of course, they got to make all the noise in the world. But it sounds great. It’s usually on the 14th, I think this year, the 14th of September. It's certainly in September. It's usually the week of the 10th to the 17th.

00:07:20:21 - 00:07:43:12
JOHN
It depends where it is, really. And the Wednesday this year, on the first we leave the coast. But Saturday in Canberra. That’s when everybody's together. They go to the wall only there 15, 20 minutes. Just put the baton’s down. The commissioner makes a speech on behalf of all the commissioners, the president of the Police federation.

00:07:43:17 - 00:08:04:11
JOHN
Only 5 minutes speeches, not a lot bullshit and people just sort of pay their respects, you know, some blokes might want to take a photo of their mate on the wall. And every year, they go and see their mate. I’m pretty proud to have started all that.



 

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