Ad­ven­turer back from ‘Aus­tralia’s Longest Triathlon’

The Weekly Advertiser Horsham - - News -

Hor­sham ad­ven­turer Tom Dunn ad­mits it might take a while to re­cover – phys­i­cally and men­tally – from his lat­est en­deav­our.

Dunn fin­ished what was billed as ‘Aus­tralia’s Longest Triathlon’ ear­lier this month af­ter jour­ney­ing un­pow­ered and un­sup­ported from North Point on Cape York to South Point at Wil­sons Promon­tory.

His plan was to cy­cle, run and swim his way from north to south, but af­ter com­plet­ing most of the 4825-kilo­me­tre jour­ney he found him­self up against the el­e­ments.

Dunn had planned to swim the length of the Gipp­s­land Lakes, but found windy and un­pre­dictable weather con­di­tions meant the wa­ter was too dan­ger­ous to nav­i­gate.

Tir­ing phys­i­cally and with his men­tal health de­te­ri­o­rat­ing, Dunn made what he de­scribed as ‘eas­ily the tough­est de­ci­sion I’ve ever had on any of my trips’.

He aban­doned the swim por­tion of his triathlon, choos­ing in­stead to kayak the lakes.

“I was pretty phys­i­cally tired at that point, but it just sort of emo­tion­ally ru­ined me,” he said.

“For 12 months I had been work­ing so hard to com­plete the trip as a ride, a run and a swim, and to know that was go­ing to be all thrown away was pretty tough to com­pre­hend.

“I’m still get­ting my head around the fact that it didn’t go to plan be­cause it wasn’t a ride, run and swim, it was a ride, run and kayak.

“Per­haps I sound like I’m be­ing a lit­tle bit nit­picky be­cause I still man­aged to get to the fin­ish line and I still had great help. But the sim­ple fact that for over 12 months I was work­ing so hard on creat­ing a plan, and then for the first 3000 or 4000 kilo­me­tres work­ing so hard to make that trip what it was, to have it pulled out from me due to some­thing that wasn’t in my con­trol hurt for sure, and I think it’ll con­tinue to hurt for a while to come.”

The triathlon was the 23-year-old’s fourth ex­treme ad­ven­ture in sup­port of a charity.

His pre­vi­ous chal­lenges – a kayak trip down the Mur­ray River, stand-up pad­dle board jour­ney the length of Aus­tralia’s longest river sys­tem, and an un­guided, un­sup­ported trek to Ever­est Base Camp – raised a com­bined $97,000 for var­i­ous char­i­ties.

Dunn’s triathlon tar­get was to raise $30,000 for Mel­bourne Indige­nous Tran­si­tion School, a board­ing house in Rich­mond that pro­vides ed­u­ca­tional op­por­tu­ni­ties for young indige­nous stu­dents from ru­ral and re­gional ar­eas.

Dunn said he was too busy try­ing to find food and shel­ter dur­ing his un­sup­ported trip to con­cen­trate much on fundrais­ing, but would now be­gin to fo­cus on gen­er­at­ing do­na­tions.

As of Mon­day, peo­ple had do­nated more than $3500 to Dunn’s on­line fundrais­ing page.

“There is still the op­por­tu­nity to use the trip and its mes­sage and the lessons I’ve learnt to turn it into a pos­i­tive story and keep fundrais­ing,” he said.

Dunn ad­mit­ted it felt strange to re­join so­ci­ety and said it would take him time to re­cover from his jour­ney. But he was al­ways think­ing about what trip he would do next.

“With these trips, un­for­tu­nately there’s so much think­ing time that you end up plan­ning the next few along the way,” he said.

“While things were go­ing well the idea was that if I’d done north to south, I’d have to look at go­ing east to west.

“I’d love to go back and swim the Gipp­s­land Lakes, which were what brought me un­done this time.

“I know it’s pos­si­ble, but the weather wasn’t right for me, so I’d love to go back and prove to my­self that I can do that.”

Dunn said he was thank­ful for the sup­port he re­ceived dur­ing his jour­ney, both from friends at home in the Wim­mera and strangers he met along the way.

“I think by far what stood out was the peo­ple I met along the way and how much they helped me – those who knew about the trip as a whole or those who just bumped into me as I was pass­ing through their area,” he said.

“There are plenty of bad news sto­ries you see on TV, so to see there are still so many in­cred­i­ble peo­ple out there was prob­a­bly the big­gest high­light of this trip.”

Peo­ple keen to sup­port Dunn and the Mel­bourne Indige­nous Tran­si­tion School can visit web­site www.­lic/ Aus­tralias­longest­triathlon.

AT THE END: Tom Dunn cel­e­brates the end of his jour­ney from Aus­tralia’s north­ern­most point to its south­ern­most point. Dunn biked, ran and kayaked in what he dubbed ‘Aus­tralia’s Longest Triathlon’.

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