Anglia Ruskin-sponsored students report on their charity cycle ride across Oz

Published: 8 May 2006 at 10:24

A warm welcome to you all from somewhere in the middle of the Australian Outback, and for once this is quite a specific geographical identifier! In case you’re not aware, myself (Will Guest), and Tristan Rees-White are in the middle of a challenge for charity (the Red Cross) to cycle across Australia from East to West – a distance of some 4000+ miles.

I’m tapping out this update from a place called Longreach – a small town some 700k’s inland from our starting point of Rockhampton. Progress so far has been pretty good, and we are currently averaging 80 – 100 k’s a day, a distance that although tiring, should be manageable over time. As you read this, hopefully we should be perhaps halfway through the cycle – wow, that seems a world away currently! Regardless, 10 days in and both bikes and riders are faring well, and settling into the pattern of cycling, camping, and cooking using a “Billy” can. However, one must admit that the hills encountered on day 3 where a mild shock – isn’t Australia meant to be flat?  Then there’s the 9 hour rain storm encountered on day 6, and that nearly drowned us as we slept, then bombarded us on bikes for a lot of the next day – isn’t Australia meant to be hot, and sunny? But for the people we meet daily, and for the wonderful views, sunsets, and sunrises that greet us each day, it really does make the hard work (and believe me it truly is hard work!) so much more bearable.

So far we’ve met two other cyclists en route. Rob is a Brit (and coincidentally a cousin of a good friend of mine) who is cycling home from Siberia via Australia – just 20,000k’s or so! Then there’s a Swiss chap who has been cycling around Australia for so long he doesn’t know how long it has been since he started – 8 – 10 months being his best guess. Regardless, everyone seems to have different styles, maximum miles to cover per day, schedules for rest days and so on. Rob manages 200k’s a day in desperate times, whereas the Swiss bloke never goes over 80k’s a day – something that has left him scarily close to heat exhaustion and lack of water, and which might have killed him had he not have found an Aboriginal settlement at the last minute on one road – a slight worry as it’s on the same stretch as we are covering!

One has much time for pondering whilst on the bike, and one thing that constantly gets my attention is this. I spend roughly 6 hours a day cycling in hot dusty conditions, occasionally having the delight of being splattered by muck from the passing road train wherein cows look out at me with a look of wonderment on their faces. Most of my clothes at the end of the day are smelly, dirty, and generally not the sort of thing that would ever allow me to pass as a member of civilised society (add to that my beard, and inability to walk properly after a day sitting on the saddle), and of course the clothes themselves are dust coloured in an attempt to hide the dirt. And yet, and this really baffles me; and yet, the Anglia Ruskin University badges (the University being kind sponsors for our trip) which are sewn onto my panniers, and which feature the University logo on a white background, are still sparkling white!

Well, I must get moving on – back on the road again tomorrow, and so much to do today in preparation, but I hope you’ve enjoyed this update. More updates are being sent to the website ( whenever access to the internet allows, so do follow more of our progress by paying a visit to the site; and feel free to send us a message using the message board. Also, and as always, this wouldn’t be a proper update if I didn’t plug our charity – the Red Cross, and just mention that you can sponsor us, should you so wish, by clicking into the Donate page, or by sending a cheque to the Red Cross in London – postal address also on the same page. I wish you all a great month, and hope that the summer is starting well for you all.

Will Guest