Following the Finke River

May 25

Introduction to Following the Finke River (Larapinta)

Published at 18:43
Dispatch created from web
Welcome to the first blog for my third expedition of 2018, Following the Finke River, in Central Australia. So far I have completed an unsupported cycle ride down the Baja Peninsula (North America) in February followed by a polar training trip in Iceland (Europe) in March.

Here's a new promotional video made by In the Dark Productions from footage taken during the Iceland expedition:

Kate Leeming - Breaking the Cycle, Iceland from Kate Leeming on Vimeo.

My vision for this whole project is to complete a challenging preparatory expedition on each continent, culminating with making the first bicycle crossing of Antarctica via the South Pole; the expeditions being integral with the Breaking the Cycle Education curriculum.

I am both excited and petty exhausted because, while we are about to embark on a unique sand cycling expedition along what is probably the world's oldest river and create a real Australian story, I am also completely exhausted due to the hectic lead up - not just organising the logistics of this expedition, but also keeping an eye on the big picture of Breaking the Cycle South Pole (fund raising and planning), other preparatory expeditions, developing the education programme and working as a senior professional at the Royal Melbourne Tennis Club. Crazy times!

But this expedition is really special in my heart; a totally original sand cycling expedition and a journey back in time through the heart of the Australian outback.

The ephemeral Finke River, or Larapinta to the local Arrernte people, begins in the West MacDonnell Ranges and carves a convoluted path through spectacular prehistoric gorges before meandering across the desert and disappearing into the sands of the Simpson, about 700km from it’s source.

Parts of the course of the Finke River near the source in the West MacDonnell Ranges, are older than the range itself (approximately 320 million years old). It was there when the ranges were pushed up, before the dinosaurs, when the Earth’s land masses were united to form the Pangea super-continent.

The sandy river bed has been an important trade route for the Arrernte in eons past, but no one has ever cycled its course (during the Dry season). Using 'Greeny', the second of my all-wheel drive fatbikes (first used in Northeast Greenland; a prototype developed for Antarctica), the expedition will be part bike-packing and part supported to ensure safety and to capture the highest quality content. We will carry a BGAN Hughes 9211 device so we can communicate effectively during the two week journey, and I can stream live to students in North America for the educational organisation, Exploring by the Seat of Your Pants..

Cycling in sand is excellent physical and mental preparation for Antarctica. Negotiating soft, unstable surfaces requires immense core strength and concentration. Different techniques are used compared with cycling on regular paved and gravel surfaces.

The team for this expedition includes experienced support vehicle driver, Bob Carr and filmmaker, Brian Cohen from Umbershoot, Melbourne. Please check out to find out more about Brian and Bob, both passionate about the outback and inspired to be a part of this adventure.

We aim to include indigenous stories, culture, artwork and present day issues into the story and relate to students around the world.

To reach Alice Springs, the centre nearest to the start of the expedition, it is a 2,500km, three day drive from Melbourne. Today I have driven 600km to Mildura (northeast Victoria), met Bob (who began his journey yesterday from the coast east of Canberra), and we have driven as far as Renmark on the Murray River in northeast South Australia. Ahead of us are two more days of driving to reach Alice Springs where we will meet Brian (who will have flown there from Melbourne). On Monday morning I will speak to students of the famous Alice Springs School of the Air before we make last minute preparations and head off to the start point, approximately 130km west of Alice.
  • Name: Renmark
  • Elevation: 24 m
  • Latitude: 34° 1037South
  • Longitude: 140° 4449East


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