Tom Drury: 4000 km trek along the Australian coast – by skateboard

Tom Drury: 4000 km trek along the Australian coast - by skateboard

What you probably wouldn’t have known is that he was away from home, skating alone on an epic journey of discovery that took him from Melbourne all the way north to Cairns, a 4,000-mile route. kilometers on just four small wheels.

When he left in late 2020, Drury had no idea what would be possible. When asked on his “Gordy on Board” Instagram page where he was heading, he simply replied, “As much as possible!

But it quickly became a daring attempt to cross almost the entire continent, a grueling yet inspiring journey driven by the global pandemic and the seemingly endless lockdown.

Drury’s Instagram page shows his first forays into the Outback from his hometown of Broken Hill in NSW, and eventually he found the courage to take his board a little further.

“I’m from rural Australia and haven’t seen anything on the coast before. So it’s a new experience for me,” he explained.

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‘This is so stupid!’

At first his friends and family were skeptical of his early ambitions and – for a brief period – he thought they might be right.

“I think when I first told them that I was going to skate in Cairns, it was like ‘whatever.’ But when I started this journey, on day three, I thought: “This is so stupid!” I was exhausted and my body was broken.

But with the encouragement of his loved ones back home, Drury has found the resolution to continue.

No stranger to hard work, Drury was an offside diamond driller in his hometown mine, working 1,400m below the earth’s surface. Of the many jobs he had, it was physically the hardest job he had ever known.

“Tough and dirty, in really hot conditions” is how he described it. “I knew if I could work there 12 hours a day, I could skate 12 hours a day in the sun!”

Treating his skateboard challenge like another job proved to be psychologically essential for Drury.

“I knew it was going to take me a few weeks to adjust. After that I’m going to get into the beat and that’s exactly what happened. That’s when I thought to myself: ‘Holy shit, I’ll be able to do this!’ ”

In a WhatsApp exchange with Drury along the way, he listed some of the occupational hazards of a transcontinental skateboarder: “Fell twice. Severe rubbing three times. Almost trampled four deadly snakes. Rendered five times in the police force. Almost. heat stroke six times. ”

He skated between 50 and 100 kilometers each day. On one occasion, he was on board for 15 hours while traveling 115 km.

“The traffic has been very difficult on the freeways here,” Drury says. “We just have loads of double-wagon semi-trailers whistling next to me. And I’m constantly on the lookout for rocks, sticks, snakes and traffic.”

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‘Idiot on a skateboard’

Some of the drivers who met him called the police, referring to Druray as “some idiot on a skateboard” and then he had to get out of trouble.

“I was just asking them for money for a fundraiser and they would leave me alone,” chuckling as they shared this life thing: “If you ever need someone to leave you alone, ask them to. money and they will go! “

He changed the wheels and bearings on his board several times and wore half a dozen pairs of sneakers along the way, sometimes walking as much as boarding the slopes of Australia’s Eastern Highland range.

He has gained many new admirers for his tenacity in good humor, and he has been interviewed by reporters from as far away as Germany, Norway, Iceland and Dubai.

Speaking to CNN Sport from a stopover in Townsville, Queensland, Drury explained that the topography he experienced was a welcome challenge.

“I would be bored if the road was flat the entire way. When I started the journey I hated the hills, but now I love them because it gives me a break. And then, you know, I love flying in the hills with my music! I’m having so much fun doing it. “

While detailing the more difficult aspects of the trip, he makes no attempt to coat the intense heat of the Australian summer, which could easily have ruined everything.

Drury estimates that the average temperature throughout his trip was around 33 degrees Celsius, or 91 degrees Fahrenheit. But on the stretch between Gin Gin and Miriam Vale in Queensland, the temperature was much hotter.

“It was really hot, it was dry and the sun was screaming right at me. My body was shaking violently and I thought if I couldn’t find shade I would be in trouble. I’m in the middle of nowhere by myself- even. ”

Drury’s Instagram post for that day in early March reveals the real emotions he was feeling.

“I was nauseous, my body and mind were so stressed, I burst into tears. I lay down on the grass and drank some water, contemplating what I was doing and if I should continue.

He continued however, reaching his destination with bloodshot eyes and recalled the feeling of triumph upon arriving at his destination: “At the end of this day, this beer has never been sweeter!”

Remarkably, Drury says his 100kg frame has remained basically the same as it was when he first embarked on his challenge – he blames the beer and his poor diet for the lack of shedding. weight.

However, he has noticed a tangible difference in his appearance – he believes one leg is now taller than the other, despite having “the best tan in all of Australia”.

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‘We live in fear’

Drury’s experiences have been detailed on his Instagram page and the sights and sounds of his travels are presented in a presentation of kaleidoscopic wonder; Much of it is the curiosity of small towns, mixed with breathtaking views and the countless strangers he has met along the way. He has stayed with many of them and now considers them friends.

“We live in fear, not only of people but of the elements,” he said. “My mental health has never been better since I started this journey; i feel so clear and i feel so in touch with nature and also in touch with people in general.

“I blew everyone away coming here on my skateboard, [so] I’ll never tell myself that I can’t do anything more. “

In a year when skateboarding will gain new attention by becoming an Olympic sport for the first time, Drury has done his part for the growth and expansion of the sport globally.

He raised funds to help build the first skate park in Laos; its GoFundMe page explains that Laos is the only country in Southeast Asia without one.

A week before his arrival in Cairns, the initial target of 25,000 Australian dollars (19,000 dollars) had already been reached. The extra donations are sauce and will support the course and maintenance.

Nonetheless, Drury admits he’s been homesick and can’t wait for life to get back to normal. He plans to return to Broken Hill in search of a new job and while he will never try anything like his skateboard marathon again, he would definitely recommend the experience to anyone.

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He thinks he’s the first person to skate this far north of Australia, but doesn’t think it’s a record because others have skated greater distances elsewhere, but he doesn’t care. not to set benchmarks.

“I will not be in the Guinness Book of World Records,” he noted. “To be honest. I don’t really care about my name in the book.”

He says he doesn’t even want the skateboard that has worn him so far, explaining, “I don’t really have an attachment to things in general.”

But he will always cherish a lifetime of memories, and not the least for this skater from a small town in Australia: “I definitely have street-cred in the skating world, so I’m pretty happy with it! “

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