Thursday, February 21, 2019

Watch the full documentary now

That is correct,  you can view the award winning documentary, just shown at the Adventure Travel Film Festival 2019, 'Lowest to Highest' on demand for under $10. So get your friends together and watch the amazing story unfold on your screen at home:


Thursday, October 19, 2017

On top of Australia!

What we have done... 2150+kms across Australia. From salt to snow, Lowest to Highest!

Thredbo to Jindabyne 33km
ALI accommodation!

We are all getting weary now. Nevertheless this was one of the most enjoyable and scenic stretches of the whole route. Probably because it was down hill! In Jindabyne we first went to visit Vonna's old colleague Bruce Easton at Wilderness Sports to procure gaiters and snow poles and skis for those who could. After all the National Parks office had told us on two occasions there was 8 meters of snow up there. Then off to our accomodation at ALI (Action Learning Initiatives) which is an incredible outdoor education centre. Andrew and Nathan were the best hosts and kitted us out with snow shoes. Walter's friend Ree joined us and cooked us a feast. We also met Matt And Catherine again from Rummin Productions  and it was good to see them again.

Jindabyne to Charlottes Pass 41km
Mountains everywhere...

This was always going to be a big day with over 1200m of ascent but all the team were cycling fit as this was our 42nd day on the ride. The team cycled past the ever present drone and met a team of Indians from Delhi who had motorcycled 20,000km around Australia. Candida #indiaonamotorcycle who did an impromptu interview with us. Then it was off down a big hill to Sponars Chalet, which looks like the hotel from the Shining. The 8 km to Perisher went fast but as we entered the snowy regions the temperature began to drop. Perisher to Charlotte's was one of the most beautiful little rides of our lives with snow all around  and winding streams directing the spring melt slowly to the Murray river, which we had spent the last 3 weeks following.

We arrived at Charlotte's to great fanfare (not really). But it was an emotional moment. This was the end of the road for us. We would have to do the remainder on foot. Wally with his oxygen pack on looked worn out. He was the only member of the team that had ridden the whole way. He said he would be happy to end it here but we convinced him he must go on.
Walter looking weary...

The manager at Charlottes Pass, Lachlan, kindly let us stay in the staff quarters where after a fish meal we set the alarms for 4am.

Duncan walking to the light...

Nurse Vonna ready for rescue

Charlotte's to Kosi 9km
We set off in the dark. The snow was quite deep in places but never 8 meters! I can only assume that when we called Parks alarm bells rang when they heard "Disability" and "Adventure" in the same sentence, and the person who answered the phone was attempting to dissuade us. It was a strange feeling to be walking again after nearly two months sat on our backsides in the saddle. But it was so lovely to see the Alpenglow and the sunrise over the snow clad mountains.

Snowy River provided cleaner water than Lake Eyre

We trudged on, the snow was frozen enough that we didn't break the crust. The team stopped at the Snowy River for a drink and a snack. At Rawsons Pass the toilets were under deep snow but one could make out the bike racks where we were supposed to have left our machines just poking out of the snow.
Bike racks for summer tourism...

Rawson Pass toilets: naturally inaccessible.

Everyone was moving well. Vonner was first on top by about 90 minutes, followed by Ed the Dud (our new nickname for him), Then it was Conrad's and Paul's turn to be the highest people in Australia. Wally and Duncan came up to the summit Trig Point and we all had a team cry.

Wow it has been a mission. We have cycled 2152km over 44 days, climbed up nearly 9000m of ascent, rode along mind numbing corrugated roads, had near misses with road trains, slept out under the desert skies, on the banks of the Murray River and in the Snowy Mountains.
Exhausted on return to Charlottes Pass. Cycling fitness does clearly not translate to walking in snow....

We have had all sorts of behaviour by the T.A.Bs (Temporarily Able Bodied) on this ride from the wonderfully generous to the kind of misinformed: Dan had had his shirt tucked in for him by a complete stranger in the Flinders Ranges (we had a good laugh about that), we had to go into damage limitation mode when word got out to our friends and families that we weren't being 'Looked After', and we were dissuaded from completing our long journey right to the finishing line. It has been an education for all involved with new challenges and curve balls thrown at us on virtually every day and from every angle. We have found the physical challenges of long exhausting rides, infections and cracked ribs the easiest to deal with. It was the societal and human aspects, within and without of our immediate team, that were the most difficult. But we rose to them all, met them head on, and succeeded. We cycled from the salt to the snow. This is Paul writing this final blog, and it really does beggar belief that we made it.

Thank you to all our fans, supporters and sponsors none of whom we could have done without. Especially grateful to World Expeditions to send Ed with the Troopy to haul our gear and help in every which way from shopping to cooking to finding camping spots and loading and unloading gear continuously! Thank you Medic Vonna for acompanying us on the hard last bits and a huge thank's to Rummin Productions for sticking it out and capturing some great footage. A very big thank you to everyone.

Post Script:
Dan is out of hospital and is planning to complete the Alpine leg soon.

I just received a call off National Parks NSW who stated emphatically there were drifts of 8m and that they were not attempting to dissuade us. Far from it they are putting in numerous accessible paths.  I apologise for penning these wayward thoughts, though it did come at the end of an exhausting trip, were we did meet many inspiring people and organisations (Parks included), but also faced instances of ablism on a daily basis. 

Saturday, October 14, 2017

The Biggest Hill

Khancoban to Geehi 33km

After a successful presentation at Khancoban Public School the L2H team pushed up a huge hill. About  three quarters of the way up we came across Daniel slumped over his trike.

He had been vomiting and had a temperature. Vonner, our medic, made the decision to evacuate him to Corryong, the closest clinic. Ed drove him there whilst we continued with an emergency shelter and food.
Once on the summit of the pass we went into one of the craziest descents any of us have ever done. The screeching of the disk breaks on the tandem was deafening as we reach 60kph through narrow cuttings. Then to Geehi flats and a beautiful camp by the Bogong Creek.

Geehi to Thredbo 46km

The physical and psychological crux of the expedition.
We made the decision to go at our own pace on this monster of a hill up to Dead Horse Gap. Conrad was now supremely fit and we did not see him or Vonner until Thredbo.

Paul, Duncan and Walter made it to Tom Groggin by 11am, the cutoff time. One hill down, two to go.

After a big pasta and fish lunch we tackled the next pass. Duncan ended up pushing the trike (with me steering) up the 1 in 4 hills as it was faster (5kph instead of 2kph). We all had to dig very deep to find reserves that are not often apparent. Walter fitted his oxygen tubes to his face that lead around his back to a backpack. We rolled into Leather Barrel Creek at 2.40 for some jelly frogs.

Now only Dead Horse Gap to navigate. Walter was now resting at every 100m marker and the tandem pulled away from him. When Paul and Duncan reached the snow in a place called Siberia they paused and took a handful.

The snow after coming 2000km from the salty surface of Kati Thanda. They didn't say much. There was a reporter, Kirsten, waiting at Dead Horse Gap so after posing for photos Paul and Duncan sped down through the freezing cold to Thredbo and the YHA. Walter was only minutes behind them and he being tech savvy used his gps to beat the tandem crew to the Hostel.

We are now having a well earned rest day at the Thredbo YHA!

Tuesday, October 10, 2017

Into the hills

We loved our rest day in a real bed, two nights at the Big4 YHA in Albury was a real treat. Thank you YHA/Big4. Also a quick thank you to Mad Bomber for getting us pizza again :)

Rain or shine, we had to get on our bikes again on monday. And rain it was. As Daniel, Conrad and nurse Vonna headed into the rain  and into the hills Paul, Duncan and Walter waited at camp for a journalist who may still come. This wait coincided with the worst of the rain and thunder. When they eventually did leave, an hour behind the drenched others, with loads of enthusiasm (and still dry) Duncan suddenly developed an injury. 

Duncan had a cramp in his thigh which didnt want to go away. We think it may be related to him starting to use pedal cleats recently, but you just dont know. The long and the short of it was that Ed had to be summoned to the rescue and relief Duncan of his duties.  Paul continued on his trusted single trike.

Shortly after leaving Albury in an Easterly direction, following the Murray and towards lake Hume we got our first dose of half decent hills. Most uphills were rewarded with downhills meaning we gained nothing net towards the climb up to Kosciuszko yet, which is now only a matter of a few hundred kilometers away!

As the day progressed so did the environment. Fantastic minor roads with only light traffic with terrific views of green pastures and treed hills. Lots of birds tweeting us on and cows mooing away. We saw our first dead wombats for the trip and started seeing more road kill snakes.

It was a long day for some of us, but Daniel on his newly repaired hand trike got to camp shortly after lunch with nurse Vonna on his tail. Walter and Conrad found a little pub half way to Thologolong and failed the test, they stopped for a beer. Paul resisted the temptation with his trusty swag almost in smelling distance.

Ed found us a good litte campsite with a long drop where we enjoyed dinner and a camp fire.

Tuesday morning we headed off East a little earlier as we knew the hills were going to get bigger. And they did. The local hills we were riding past were now almost 1000m high whereas yesterday they were perhaps half that height. The greenery got even greener and the snakes more abundant, with a red belied black snake lurching up for Dans bike/face as he rolled past. Dan reported hitting the snake with his mirror but believed it not to be hurt.

We got our first glimpse of the main range, with (allegedly) GMO canola plantations, lakes, rivers and bee hives.

Ed had prepared a lunch bag of noodles for each of us but fortunately we passed a little hotel in Walwa which forbade us to eat our own food so we bought delicious meals, such as baked trout! Walter found an Invalid Stout to quench his thirst.

And as per usual we rolled into camp about 630pm after another long day on the bikes. Our day long efforts always remind me of the fact that a marathon runner can run a marathon in 2-3hours but the medal shoud really go to the strugglers who ran as hard as they can for double that time!!! Presumably many cyclists could finish the same distance we do around lunch time, but we only rode an average of 12-4km per hour and stop very often. Walter's GPS often reports 6+hrs riding time and 3+hrs stopping time.

Tomorrow we head for Khancoban where we may speak to a school!!

Sent from Gmail Mobile

Saturday, October 7, 2017

City lights!

Gunbower Creek to Echuca 73km

After a 10km ride into Cahuna Paul & Duncan took the scenic quiet route whilst the rest of the Texan
M continued on the Murray Valley Highway. Satellite navigation means that we can all take seperate routes and all meet up at the same destination. The Tandem crew went down quiet country lanes amidst billabongs and lush green fields, which became increasingly narrow and rough until they were forced to ask for help off some farm women in the matrix of criss-crossing paths. They found themselves riding the tandem on little more than footpaths.

They found themselves way behind everyone else but having a picnic with Paul's partner Melinda who had come to visit with her daughter Veve. They rolled into the Rotary Park on the banks of the Campaspe River in Echuca at dusk all set to Surprise Duncan. You see it was his birthday the following day and everyone except Duncan knew Evelyn, his Mother, had travelled up from Tasmania to see him. His jaw dropped when he saw ('heard' ed.) his mum and niece.
Jeffrey our PR man was most surprised to see us!

Everyone was stressed after 8 days doing battle with trucks and everyone had their close calls. So a  much needed rest day ensued. The Rummin crew fromTasmania had arrived again and so it was also a day of filming and interviews.

Echuca to Nurmurkah 82km
Despite best intentions we had a late start from Echuca made all the more late by Win National News interviewing Paul and Duncan (a good interview set up by Jeffrey our PR man). Highlights of this day were dirt roads in the Barmah Forest and the Yorta Yorta town of Barmah itself. Then a rare 28km with a tail wind meant that we could cruise at 30kph. Paul's family accompanied the team on this day and said goodbye the next morning.

Nurmurkah to Lake Mulawa 75km

The wind blew in the morning making packing up camp uncomfortable. We rode down more dead straight roads through iridescent GMO canola fields and wheat - the bread basket of Australia.  Wally got attacked by magpies and filmed himself. The team had to stop for lunch and conduct a phone interview with Felicity Ogylvie for the  ABCs Radio National PM programme before rolling into Yarawonga and back into NSW to camp at Kyffin's Reserve where we were treated to a spectacular Harvest moonrise.

Lake Mulawa to Albury 100km
We were in a state of trepidation for this day. It was always going to be a monster. Paul is in Abury writing this blog and can't even remember the ride even though it was only yesterday. I think it is best if I just forget this day! What I do recall is 11 hours into a headwind, Duncan calves hurting him because of his new cleat pedals, Duncan's stomach was also upset and he ate a full packet of Quickease before lunch, chatting to bearded men sucking on cans at the Howlong Hotel, and getting shouted at - "Fucking Idiots" - by a person in a white ute (registration number GY6174) as we came down from the summit on Dights Hill at 58kph. We then rode the last 10km into Albury on a splendid cycle track through a wetland at dusk, with Pelicans perched in trees and an evening chorus of waterfowl.
Well... that settles that than...

Now we are staying at the excellent Big 4 Albury Tourist Park which also serves as a Youth Hostel and is affiliated with the YHA. It really does feel like we are living it up in the big city!

Tomorrow we will begin the last leg of our journey - The Mountain leg to Mt Kosciuszko.

Monday, October 2, 2017

Roadkill swapped for litter and traffic

Robinvale - Narrung - Swan Hill - Spencer's bridge (Gunbower Creek).

Time and distances are now flying past us at a rapid rate. We are doing 80+kms per day as if it is a staple diet. We have routine and the team is well-oiled. We have now acquired and adopted nurse Vonna from Hobart and she joined the team with gusto. Full of good advise and practical help to the team. Her presence is much appreciated. 

We cycled from Robinvale to Narung where we free-camped along the Murray, a campsite our WorldEx  Ed  found using his trusty wikicamp phone app. The ride was along the most busy Murray Valley highway  which got busier and busier as we headed East. Some sections had little shoulder sadety for us which made the ride quote harrowing at times. It would really help if cars had lights on even during the day!

Now that we are in an agriculturaly rich area with vineyards,  orchards and honey production  (i bought some great honey at Mallee), there is a lot less road kill along the road but in its place a load of manmade garbage. 

The wind is pretty much in our favor still and we can ride around 15kmphr. thanks to the mostly flat terrain.  This is sure to change long before we hit the Snowy Mountains!

Camping along the river is beautiful now,  though there is a lot now dew and the temperatures are slowly dropping.

After leaving the Narung river Camp site we stopped for coffee and more breakfast snacks in town, handed out our propaganda postcards and did some shopping (Conrad even found a woolen suit  jacket to ride in from the opp shop and Ed got a new flannelette shirt on special in the local fashion store.

Nurse Vonna was enthusastically cycling behind the tandem trike when Paul at the helm hit the anchor  to avoid a brown snake on the road,  causing Vonna to run into it and fly over Duncan who sensed her flying through the air amd casually caught her in his lett hand. Turns out the snake was already dead from a previous vehicular encounter. Amazingly noone was injured.

We set up camp at the Big Four in Swan Hill surrounded by hundreds of kids and tourists who weren't sure what to think of our swags and walrer.coughing ans spluttering amongst them during an earlier than usual abridged nebulising session while the rest of the team had Chinese in town. Big Four had offered Walter a cabin to do his nebulising in for a discounted $100 to do his nebulising in. Instead of taking up that offer he  ordered domino's pizza (compliments of and gave the public performance  (which provided more opportunity to Walter to hand out more  postcsrds with our message). 

In the morning some of us had a lot of dew on our swags and gear, which will get worse as we near the mountains 

By now we had also gained an extra hour of daylight thanks to summer time starting,  meaning we now wake up an hour later with the sun and ride a little longer to dusk. 

So continuing, after our crowded campsite in Swan Hill we headed off the busy highway and took some minor roads to  Spencer's 
Bridge. Walter took a dirt road short cut,  Conrad cossed the river to a nsw pub.for a beer, Vonna took a wrong turn and therandem trike avoided a life snake on the road. 

Amazingly we all managed to  arrive at the campsite within  about twenty minutes of each other, the film crew arrived out of the blue as well and a local man calped Greg came along with a few beers and the kind offer for us to use his shower and power for rhe night and to sort out any mechanical issues in his workshop! We sure love hospitality like that, but were too stuffed after the 90÷ kms we had ridden today to go anywhere....

Challenging (dis)ability through Adventure

An expedition comprising of 5 people with significant disabilities riding human powered tricycles from Australia’s geographical lowest point...