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Sporting legends and community get behind Royce’s Big Walk and fund-raising events

Some of rugby league’s biggest names, communities from Goolagong to Sydney, and big business have jumped behind the campaign of Penrith Panthers’ favourite all-time player Royce Simmons to support dementia research and rugby league in the bush.

Both will be the recipients of Royce’s Big Walk, a 300km trek the former Panthers skipper and Australian Test hooker, when it gets underway on May 17. Five major fund-raising evenings, a junior coaching clinic, barefoot bowls and ‘meet the people’ event at his hometown of Gooloogong are included in the itinerary.

Several of footy’s biggest names will join ‘Simmo’ on the walk or at fund-raising functions including former Australian captain Brad Fittler, Queensland greats Allan Langer and Gene Miles, former Panthers teammate and four-time premiership coach Tim Sheens, Tigers legends Paul Sironen, Steve Roach and Garry Jack (Simmons’ 1986 Kangaroo tourmates) plus Simmons’ fellow grand final winning heroes Fittler, John Cartwright, Barry Walker, Steve Carter, Joe Vitanza, Paul Smith and Paul Dunn.

Also joining Simmo in his campaign is fellow local-cum-good Andrew Farrar and fellow Bulldogs greats Chris Mortimer and Greg Brentnall, Panthers legend and premiership-winning captain Craig Gower and his teammate Martin Lang, Wests Tigers greats Robbie Farah and Chris Lawrence who Simmons coached while at the Tigers, Bulldogs ‘top dog’ Terry Lamb, Great Britain international prop James Graham and others.

A special partner on the road will be fellow local Kurt Fearnley, the two-time Paralympic gold medal winner who grew up in Carcoar.

Most will take their turns as special guests speakers at a series of functions being held in Canowindra, Cowra, Blayney, Bathurst, Lithgow and Katoomba during Simmons’ 11-day walk. These and other events were the idea of Royce so he could help raised much-needed funds for footy clubs in the area where he played his junior football.

It is a rare opportunity for sports fans in the region to rub shoulders and listen to the history-making memories and anecdotes from so many top names in the sport.

Simmons revealed in January that he was last year told he was suffering from dementia (Alzheimer’s disease) at age 61 and soon after set about organising the walk to raise funds for, and awareness of, dementia. He will channel funds to Dementia Australia to go to much-needed research.

“The support has been unbelievable,” said Simmons. “From people in the street to former teammates and friends from within the game … all over the place.

“When I’m just walking around the place (from Penrith to the foot of the Blue Mountains during daily training walks) people yell out encouragement, which is appreciated.

“At the Panthers’ game at Bathurst (the round 3 clash with Newcastle at Carrington Park), I had to walk around the ground to do an interview and it took me forever because people wanted to chat and ask how they could help and give their support.

“I hope plenty come along to the events we have planned along the route because those funds will go to junior rugby league. A lot of clubs have been doing it tough since COVID hit and, other than the functions being great nights, every dollar raised will go to a good cause.”

Ultra-marathon efforts are not new to Royce Simmons, who walked the Kokoda Track in Papua New Guinea in 2018 for Panthers On The Prowl and ran five marathons in five days in west Yorkshire in 1992 to raise funds for Hull FC, the club he was coaching at the time. Yet, he says the upcoming trek is his most important, and the cause the most far-reaching.

“Other than it being more personal because of my situation with dementia, it’s the most important because of the impact the disease is having on society, and it’s only going to get worse,” he said.

“Only those who are impacted, or people close to those impacted, really understand the effect dementia has on families. It’s the second biggest killer in Australia and the largest for women.”

The walk will finish at Bluebet Stadium just before kick-off of the Panthers-Cowboys clash on Friday, May 27 when Royce and his family will do a lap of the playing field, to a predicted emotional standing ovation.

The walk and fund-raising schedule is listed below, with details of how to buy tickets.

For more information and background, how to donate and to keep up with event details, go to


Sunday, May 15

Sportsman’s lunch at CANOWINDRA SERVICES CLUB - 1pm 

SPECIAL GUESTS: Craig Gower, Tony Butterfield, Paul Dunn

TICKETS: $65. Go to Canowindra Tigers Facebook page

Monday, May 16

Barefoot bowls at Gooloogong Bowls Club - 6pm 

SPECIAL GUESTS: Chris Mortimer, Greg Brentnall

Tuesday, May 17              

WALK, DAY 1 – Gooloogong to Cowra, 38km

EVENT: 4pm, open training session, Cowra Magpies, at Sid Kallas Oval.

SPECIAL GUESTS: Royce Simmons, Brad Fittler and Andrew Farrar arriving at 5pm

EVENT: Sportsman’s dinner, COWRA BOWLING CLUB, 7pm

SPECIAL GUESTS: Brad Fittler and Andrew Farrar

TICKETS: $110 single tickets, $800 for table of eight – includes 3-course meal and full beverage package. Tickets available from the club.

Wednesday, May 18      

WALK, DAY 2 – Cowra to Woodstock, 20km

EVENT: Carcoar Central Stock Exchange, 8.45 am

GUEST WALKERS: Kurt Fearnley, Terry Lamb, Luke Goodwin, Paul Langmack         

Thursday, May 19            

WALK, DAY 3 – Woodstock to Carcoar, 34.8km

GUEST WALKERS: Paul Sironen, Steve Roach

Friday, May 20                  

WALK, DAY 4 – Carcoar to Fitzgerald Mount, 27.7km

EVENT: Sportsman’s dinner, BLAYNEY COMMUNITY CENTRE, 7pm

SPECIAL GUESTS: Allan Langer, John Cartwright, Martin Lang, Barry Walker

TICKETS: $50, available from The Royal Hotel (Blayney) 02 6368 2210

Saturday, May 21             

WALK, DAY 5 – Fitzgerald Mount to Bathurst, 24.5km

EVENT: Sportsman’s dinner, BATHURST PANTHERS, 7pm

SPECIAL GUESTS: Allan Langer, John Cartwright, Martin Lang, Barry Walker

TICKETS: TBA, keep checking with website

Sunday, May 22                

WALK, DAY 6 – Bathurst to Brewongle, 17km

GUEST WALKERS: Steve Carter, Paul Smith, Joe Vitanza

EVENT: 9am – Bathurst community walk and barbeque

EVENT: Noon: Men of League golf day - lunch (12-1pm) followed by nine-hole Ambrose, shotgun start at 1pm,


SPECIAL GUESTS: TBA. Royce Simmons arriving at 4pm to meet guests

BOOKINGS: Bathurst Golf Club 02 6331 1379 or Royce George (Men of League.) 0408 635011

Monday, May 23              

WALK, DAY 7 – Brewongle to Sodwalls, 33km

GUEST WALKERS: Garry Jack, Nigel Plum

Tuesday, May 24              

WALK, DAY 8 – Sodwalls to Browns Gap (Hartley), 29km

EVENT: Sportsman’s dinner, LITHGOW WORKERS CLUB, 7pm

SPECIAL GUESTS: Neil Paine, Chris Lawrence, Tim Sheens, Robbie Farah, Chris Law

TICKETS: $50 (2-course meal). Sales details TBA, keep checking with website.

Wednesday, May 25      

WALK, DAY 9 – Browns Gap to Katoomba, 29km

EVENT: Sportsman’s dinner, KATOOMBA RSL, 7pm

SPECIAL GUESTS: Tim Sheens, John Skandalis, Gene Miles, Paul ‘Nobby’ Clarke

TICKETS: $95 each OR table of 10 for $850 (2-course dinner including beer, wine, & soft drinks). Tickets available from: and the cashier at the club (on sale from April 18)

Thursday, May 26            

WALK, DAY 10 – Katoomba to Faulconbridge, 29km

GUEST WALKERS: James Graham, Gene Miles

Friday, May 27                  

WALK, DAY 11 – Faulconbridge to Bluebet Stadium, Penrith, 19km

EVENT: Penrith Panthers v North Queensland Cowboys, NRL Rd 12     

Click here for more details about Royce's Big Walk

Acknowledgement of Country

Penrith Panthers players and staff respect and honour the traditional custodians of the land and pay our respects to their elders past, present and future. We acknowledge the stories, traditions and living cultures of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples on the lands we meet, gather and play on.