While it may not be the most time efficient way of exploring a new country, two Swedish tourists are hoping to capture many of Australia’s breathtaking sights while gliding across the length and breadth of the land on a pair of off-snow skis.
Marcus Aspsjö and Jonathan Ljungqvist are roller skiing from Sydney to Perth in a four-month-long expedition to raise money for charity. Their method of choice has its roots in traditional (snow-based) cross-country skiing, but with few parts of Australia covered in ice and sleet at this time of the year, the pair are using a pair of wheels fitted at either end of their skis to hit the bitumen instead.
With little more than their helmets, a tent and basic travel essentials in tow, Marcus and Jonathan set off in early February and have already clocked close to 2,000 kilometres. They reached their half-way point of Ceduna, South Australia, at the end of last month and are hoping to wrap up their travels 1,900 kilometres further west by June.
Although ambitious, the adventurers are by no means novices, and have previously cycled from Sweden to Tanzania, paddled a canoe across the Black Sea, and crossed India on foot. On this occasion, Shellharbour, a beachside location just south of Wollongong where they sweated under their skivvies in scorching 40 degree heat, was one of their first stops.
Shortly afterwards, they began making their way west, following the Murrumbidgee River until it met the Murray at the NSW/Victorian boarder, before stopping in Mildura and later Waikerie. The bearded partners in crime are now about to embark on the most isolating part of their journey yet, crossing the Nullabor, but they’ve been temporarily delayed by a sore throat.
Posting to their Facebook page yesterday, Jonathan explained that they’d hit a bit of a speedbump with his health but “are trying to stay positive” and “just can't wait until we can get in the flow again”. It isn’t the first time they’ve suffered a delay either as Jonathan’s VISA expired in March meaning he had to fly in and out of the country which resulted in a four-day trip to Bali.
Sauna-like temperatures, hoards of blow flies and the odd cuts and bruises have been part and parcel of the trip, but Marcus and Jonathan have been most taken aback by the reaction of the locals. “We just meet sooo many wonderful people who offers us cold drinks on the roads, a meal or a place for the night,” they write on Facebook. “We are just amazed over how generous the Australian people are.”
The two are hoping their journey will raise money for Hand in Hand, a Swedish charity fighting against child labour in India. They have so far amassed $9,700 of their total goal of $16,000.