Adventurer back from ‘Australia’s Longest Triathlon’
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. givenow.com.au/crowdraiser/public/ 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’.