The stay in Coober Pedy was quite welcomed,
especially by Stuart as he had been suffering for the last few days
with a cracked tooth.
Upon their arrival in Coober
Pedy, Stuart headed straight for the dentist who only happened to be
in town once in a blue moon, as he also served the surrounding
Stuarts' luck was in, as the
dentist was actually in town, and twenty minutes later (and $165
poorer) he caught up with Jon and Simon who were making the most of
a pizza at 'Johns Pizzas' as recommended by the coach driver they
had met in Marla. Stuart, who was well known for his appetite had to
just sit and watch them enjoy the occasion.
Later that day Jon and the team met again with Robert
McCormack, the president of the local lions, and the local press to
receive the aus$500 donation.
On the evening the team were invited to visit the home of
another member of the lions. His home was built into the side of a
cliff face and like others 'cut' into the ground was known as a 'dug
out'. It was an absolutely remarkable place, which can only be
described as a cave.
The reason for the houses
being built in this way was to gain some relief from the weather
extremities which would be as low as minus 5 degrees Celsius but
could reach as high as 52 degrees Celsius.
July the 31st.
As the stretch of road to Glendambo was the longest of
all (254kms in total) Jon had made the conscious decision that today
he would make the most of every hour of daylight. This was not only
to see what total mileage could be achieved but to see whether or
not any other time/distance records could be broken.
The only record to be broken today would be the time that
they spent on the road! 8hrs, 41mins and 41secs to cover only 100.63
miles. It could only be described as another 'hard slog'. The wind,
which was not only head on but also bitterly cold, made this
possibly the most challenging day for Jon and the Royal Marines,
both physically and psychologically.
They would have a short break every two hours. This was
not only to refuel but to warm up from the bitterly cold wind, which
was testing them all of the way.
The day had started with long drive South to the point at
which they finished the day before and the team were greeted by a
magnificent sunrise. Before dawn had broken, they saw more wildlife
than they had for the whole of the journey so far. Martin ('coops')
Cooper did well to miss a Kangaroo that just bounded out from the
bush and across the road in front of him. He wasn't to be quite so
lucky that evening as the wildlife seemed to be even more abundant.
A large kangaroo decided to take a closer look at the front of the
motorhome and caused a fair bit of damage, to the vehicle as well as
Jon considered this yet
another bonus day, despite the conditions. It was not only just
under 25miles left to Glendambo but another whole day closer to
Sunday the 1st of
After the nightmare
conditions of yesterday the team were to have a 'quiet' day and just
complete the remaining 24.68 miles that were left to take them
officially into Glendambo. This would hopefully allow time to catch
up with the PR and I.T. as there were quite a lot of Lions clubs
ahead of them that they were hoping to visit en-route. It would also
allow them a little extra time to restore the energy
Glendambo is yet another of
those roadhouse communities with a population of only thirty. They
rely totally on road trains for their supplies and the weather
temperatures there are similar to those found in Coober Pedy,
ranging from minus 5 degrees Celsius to 50 degrees
Today the team would make a
straight run towards Pimba. The distance was 113kms (70.21miles) and
took the team 4hrs, 44mins and 07secs to complete the section. For
several reasons Jon was finding that he had to push himself harder,
psychologically at least, and commented that he could not believe
that the road was still uphill at this stage.
The team made their mark on the roadside and made their
way to Woomera, just 7kms off of the highway. As they entered the
town they passed a Canberra Bomber, Meteor Jet, Jindivik Target Jet
and a Black Arrow Rocket.
As you can tell, Woomera is
much larger than the places that the team have stopped at for a
while and has an approximate population of 1300. As it was a town
that was developed to cater for the people who developed and
is known as Australia's first and only space age town and is
advertised as a 'must see' town as it used to be a no go zone due to
the official secrets act.
Woomera is advertised as
being only a 5hr drive from Adelaide, but for Jon and the Royal
Marines there were still 478kms ahead of them.
August the 3rd.
With Adelaide 'in sight' so to speak the next destination
of Port Augusta was the longest single stretch left to cover. It was
172kms (107miles approx..) and although it may have been achievable
in a day, the team had PR work to carry out with the local lions
group so Jon decided that time would dictate the day's
Jon covered a total of 75.7
miles (121kms approx..) in 5hrs, 15mins and 08secs averaging 14.3
mph. This was to leave the team just over 31miles 50kms approx..) to
reach Port Augusta. For once the scenery actually started to change
today giving the team a break from the previous monotony of mile
upon mile of the same wilderness to look at.
The final 31 miles ( 50kms) drive into the town appeared
to be quite level with only a couple of inclines on the way and
should make for a steady day ahead.
August the 4th.
Having started the day thinking that it was to be a
comparatively easy day ahead, Jon and the Royal Marines were to be
faced with poor roads and blustery headwinds. With possibly the
longest stretch of level road since leaving Darwin what should have
been a steady ride turned out to be another three hour
The only consolation was the
beautiful views of the Flinders ranges that ran parallel with the
road on the final stages into town and the colours of the estuary as
they passed through the town to finish the days stage of 38.02 miles
(62kms approx). This took the team 7.5 miles (12kms) South of Port
Augusta, all of which was into a strong headwind and left Jon and
the team wondering what was in store for the following
The team were invited for
afternoon tea with Betty Maul and other members of the Port Augusta
Lions as they had wanted to present them with a cheque for the
Wheelchair Sports Worldwide Foundation.
August the 5th.
After wrongly thinking that yesterday would be easy and
facing the strong winds at the end of the stage, Jon and the team
had wondered what was in 'store' for them in the day
been led to believe that the winds would be strong for most of the
day as they headed towards, and beyond, Port Pirie whilst covering
the 62,11 miles (100kms) that they had decided to do.
The journey was at least going to be more picturesque as
they were going to be 'cycling' with the Flinders ranges on one side
of them and the rich blue colours of the Spencer Gulf estuary on the
It had originally been
planned that the team would leave the highway at this point to
divert through the Barossa valley. This wasn't due to the fact that
this was one of the fine wine regions of Australia but because over
the final stages several Lions clubs had wanted to show support to
the Wheelchair Sport Worldwide Foundation and the logistics of
ensuring that the team did the right thing by them all had to be
taken into account.
However, several people
en-route had told the team that due to moving slowly, and with
support vehicles to be considered, it would be dangerous to take
that route due to the winding roads. The decision was made to
highway. Each time they finished a stage they would drive to each
particular club that wished to see them.
That evening they were to meet with 'Stacks' Kerr and the
Port Pirie Lions organisation. Their group were running a burger
stall at a Healthy Living Expedition and we were invited to try some
of their wares. They were very much appreciated after the hard days
work, especially the last section of the stage, which seemed to be
one prolonged uphill battle.
Jon and the Royal Marines
were now very aware that they were within 122 miles (under 200kms)
of Adelaide. This, along with the 12 mile (20kms) drive South of
Port Pirie, made for a positive start to the day. It was quite
possible that this could have been achieved in one day but once
again PR and awareness had to be catered for.
The team were hoping to make their way to Port Wakefield
some 62.7 miles (97kms) South but because they were due to visit the
Lions group in the township of Clare that evening the decision was
made to call time at 15.30hrs that day to allow time to drive back
across country to Clare.
The day was to be one of the
better ones and, even with some prolonged inclines, Jon covered
62.11 miles (100kms) in 3hrs, 26mins and 43secs. He even achieved a
bonus before the cut off time. The total distance
was 70.11 miles (113kms approx.) in a time of 3hrs, 57mins and
05secs, averaging 17.7 mph.
The team then drove back to
Clare to spend a wonderful evening with the Lions group there who
laid on food and drink for us. They even introduced the team ( some
members anyhow) to Clare valley red wine of 1996 vintage
very nice it
was too... so I am told of course. The record book was signed by
John Reid who was not only a member of the
Lions but the local police
Senior Sergeant also. He was a right character and certainly kept
everyone on their toes that evening.
August the 7th.
As Simon had already finalised dealings with the Lions
clubs of Port Augusta, Port Pirie, Gladstone, Clare, Gawler and
Elizabeth today was to be the home run. With the luxury of knowing
that they had a very long drive back to the starting point from
Clare, and the relaxing evening behind them, the team had a later
start than usual.
Jon had always felt that
there would be a bonus day in store somewhere to make up for all of
the hills and inclines that they had to tolerate on the way. Maybe
yesterday was it. No, today was to be even better and a fitting end
to a tremendous journey.
Jon, Simon and Stuart were to
finish the final 51.77 miles (83.31kms) in 2hrs, 31mins and 58secs.
Jon covered took just 1hr, 09mins and 49secs to cover the equivalent
distance of the Marathon from a standing start. The
whole of the last stage was
covered at an average speed of 20.4 mph (32.83kmph).
This was to include the last
seven miles into Adelaide being hampered with traffic signals and
Jon and the Royal Marine
support team Cpl.Simon Davies, Cpl. Stuart Gentry, Cpl. Ian Lawton
and Marine Martin 'coops' Cooper had taken a total of 141hrs, 23mins and 55secs
to get to Adelaide from Darwin.
Friday the 13th of
Today the team would cover
7.5 miles (12kms) back into the town, along with a police escort.
They were to be received by Mr Vic Warrington who was the British
Consul and Mr Graeme Goldberg at the glorius Stamford Plaza hotel
for a press and media luncheon. We were presented with a cheque for
$200aus from the president of the Lions from the town of
The team had been hosted in
Adelaide by the Wheelchair Sports South Australia and are very
appreciative of their support. Our special thanks go to Mr George
Dunstan, Natalie Philps (and her family), Kim Elwood and Liam