The Adventure Travel Film Festival, the celebration of the world’s greatest adventure travellers, was held once again in Bright, Victoria, in February. It was the fifth of these annual events.
The Festival aims to inspire and motivate all travellers, experienced and not so experienced, to live the dream and take on their own adventures.
This aim is promoted through the films, which show all sorts of travellers and the means they used to get them there, plus presentations from many intrepid adventurers who have just gone and done it.
As usual there was a wide range of films and speakers –from Jacqui Kennedy who rode a postie bike around Australia; Paul Pritchard, who overcame a serious climbing accident to climb, kayak and raft around the world, as well as pedal a recumbent tricycle through Tibet to Mt Everest; and well-known four wheel drive expert, journalist, guidebook author, 4×4 Australia editor and round-the-world explorer, Ron Moon. (Incidentally, at the time of the Film Festival, Ron was on map patrol for Hema Maps in the High Country).
While other adventurous travellers preferred to sail a schooner around Cape Horn from Massachusetts to San Francisco (Cape Horn Passage to California), or a home-made boat crafted from jute, with 2 hens and an organic garden in the bow, from France to Indonesia (Gold of Bengal); some preferred to fly ultralights from Ushuaia (Argentina) north to New York, then over to Greenland, Britain, through France and Spain, across to Morocco and down the west coast of Africa to Cape Town (South to South).
Lang and Bev Kidby have travelled the world many times using many different forms of transport, most recently driving a 1928 Austin 7 to Cape York and back. Other adventures include riding Russian Army sidecars from Ukraine to Italy and driving World War 2 military vehicles from Istanbul to Normandy. Re-enactments are a specialty, such as Peking to Paris using the same vehicles used on the first such crossing. Lang has flown, while Bev provided en route support, a 1919 Vickers Vimy bomber from United Kingdom to Australia and a 1927 Avro Avian over the same route.
Ron Fellowes is another daring adventurer, who didn’t allow his age, nor the limitations of his fully renovated 1910 FN motorcycle, to stop him from journeying from Nepal to Belgium to the factory where the motorcycle was built. Ron’s ingenuity and determination and his wife Lynne’s logistical support kept him going during the 14,600 kms and 15 countries of gruelling conditions and bike breakdowns. All this was wonderfully described and illustrated in Ron’s presentation at the Festival. Ron and Lynne have written a book No Room for Watermelons, available from their website at oldblokeonabike.com.
Francis Clarke began his adventure in 1962 when he was just 20 years old. While working in California, he bought a Willys Jeep and set off on his way to South America. Despite bad reports on the capability of the Jeep from mechanics, Francis crossed the Andes, and Patagonia, from where he shipped the Jeep to Africa, travelling through Zambia to Sudan, Libya, across to Spain and over to London. The Jeep was then shipped home to Melbourne where once again disparaging comments were heard from a mechanic, but despite this, Francis had no trouble driving 12,000 miles around Australia over the next five weeks. This was an entertaining presentation of an enterprising young man and his adventures in a Willys Jeep.
Some adventurers really do it the hard way. Jeremy Scott is a fine example in this category, when he challenged himself to ride a bicycle from London to Auckland. In all he rode 51,916 km over 2½ years, through the mountains of eastern Turkey at -40o, through Iran, into China and the Taklamakan Desert where temperatures reached 50o, and into the mountains of China where a life threatening accident nearly finished everything and finally down through Australia and across to New Zealand.
Other memorable presentations were from Brian Rix and wife, Shirley Hardy-Rix, who rode their motor bike from the snows of Norway to the heat of the deserts of Uzbekistan, Kazakhstan and Tajikistan over a 6 month period (see www.aussiesoverland.com.au); Bondi to the Baltic when mates and their two vintage tourers travelled from Thailand, through Laos, China, the ‘Stans’, Azerbaijan, Armenia, Georgia, Russia and finished in Finland; and Tony Wheeler, long time traveller and explorer and original owner of Lonely Planet.
And also, Vic Widman of Great Divide Tours, who presented a short version of our video The Simpson Desert. Vic had organised the trip of this first crossing of the Simpson Desert in March 2012, which was also the 50th anniversary of the first vehicle crossing of the Simpson by Reg Sprigg and the Geological Surveys of Australia.
The Simpson Desert is closed from December 1 to March 15 in every year, but it wasn’t the heat that caused our convoy problems. It was rain that closed all the outback tracks of South Australia just two weeks before we got there. Fortunately, the roads dried and were reopened, just in time for our group to enjoy a magnificent greening of the desert plus some adventure in reaching the sand dune country.
There are many highlights of being first across the desert. There are no wheel tracks in the sand as they are long blown away with the wind; the lumps and bumps of the track, driven into the sand by determined travellers, have all been smoothed away; and there is a flush of new vegetation, some of which grows in the centre of the track between the wheels.
Once again the Adventure Travel Film Festival delivered on movies and presentations. We will be back next year, maybe with another video to present.