Welcome to the first blog for my new expedition, Breaking the Cycle Across Australia. This is going to be a 6000km+ journey from Cape Byron, Australia’s most easterly point to Steep Point, the continent’s most westerly tip.
Starting from the Cape Byron Lighthouse, the route is going to track across the Great Dividing Range and through northern NSW, the Corner Country (Tibooburra to Birdsville), across the Simpson Desert to Oodnadata and Coober Pedy, then the length of the Anne Beadell Highway, along a part of the Rabbit Proof Fence, through the Murchison region to Shark Bay and Steep Point.
Along the way, and in keeping with the ‘Education for Sustainable Development’ theme of my 25,000km Great Australian Cycle Expedition (2004/05), I plan to seed the journey with stories related to sustainability and indigenous knowledge and culture.
Following the success of the Diamonds in the Sand TV series, the journey is going to be filmed to a broadcast standard, thanks to three highly-qualified filmmakers – Mikey Matthews, Morgan Cardiff and Gavin Rawlings, who will cover the different sections of the 11-week journey.
The vehicle support is in the experienced, highly capable hands of three of the most well-travelled 4WD specialists in the country – Neil and Helen Cocks and Martin and Sandra Bailey have driven me to Byron Bay and will follow the whole journey while Rick Hunter and his wife will join us in Birdsville.
My education partner, Belouga is going to translate the information from my blogs and the team’s short videos into lessons for students around the world, accessed by educators through my Breaking the Cycle Belouga Channel. These will become available in about 3 weeks.
As usual, pulling this expedition together has involved many weeks of very little sleep, and effectively a detraining regime! I’ve been juggling several big projects at once – its all good but I can’t wait to get on the bike and away from the computer screen.
We allowed four days to reach Byron Bay, the highlight was meeting explorer and adventurer, Peter Treseder and his wife Lyn at their 300 acre property near Wauchope. Peter has walked unsupported to the South Pole, kayaked across the Timor Sea, and walked unsupported across all 13 Australian deserts. The new chapter he has entered in his life is to develop the land sustainably where the profits from the premium chalet accommodation they have built goes to supporting several charities. Set beside the Hastings River, it was difficult to believe the idyllic location where we camped was under water a few weeks ago when the river rose more than 10 metres.
The highlight of our visit was when Peter pulled two priceless articles from the heroic era of exploration. The first was Sir Douglas Mawson’s handmade goggles worn on his disastrous scientific expedition where he lost both companions and Mawson was the sole survivor of the three-man Far Eastern Party, which travelled across the Mertz and Ninnis glaciers, named after his two deceased companions. Their deaths forced him to travel alone for over a month to return to the expedition base camp. The repairs are hand stitched by Mawson as he sheltered in an ice cave, miles from the base camp. The other item belonged to Roald Amundsen – a bone or tusk trinket, hand carved by the expedition cook while he waited for Amundsen’s team to return from a reconnaissance trip before he made to first trek to the South Pole. The trinket was carried by Amundsen as a good luck charm.
We stayed much of the day at Peter’s and Lyn’s and then drove to within 200km of Byron Bay. The final leg was done this morning in time for me to do two interviews. The interview with ABC Radio journalist Glynn Greensmith will be live on local ABC stations at 3pm AEST tomorrow (Saturday) and then streamed over the next week on https://www.abc.net.au/radio/programs/itsjustnotcricket/
Neil and I also drove to Ballina to collect Gavin Rawlings the filmmaker for the first week, who flew up from Sydney.
So, the stage is set to set off in the morning from the Cape Byron Lighthouse. The only issue is that it has been bucketing down and the forecast for tomorrow is for a high chance of rain, even thunderstorms, as I head east with about 6000km ahead of me.