Belgian Louis-Philippe Loncke on Monday completed a solo expedition in Tasmania, crossing the Australian island in winter from north to south in 52 days. The 41-year-old explorer and adventurer walked about 500 kilometres and arrived in good health, although he lost 16 kg in his gruelling trek.
His is a historic feat since he is the first adventurer to cross Tasmania during the Australian winter, without receiving any additional supplies of food and gas, avoiding all surfaced roads and sleeping each night in a tent.
“I never thought of giving up, but I’ve never cried so much,” he told Belga news agency. “I use the word ‘punishment’, because it was very tough. You suffer physically, from the cold, hunger and poor sleep, so at a given moment, you suffer mentally.”
The adventurer left the town of Penguin in the north of the island in early August, arriving 52 days later at Cockle Creek at the southern tip of Tasmania. To make sure he would not have to rely on outside help he took along about 60 kg of equipment and supplies. “With such weight in your backpack, you need to go slowly and pay attention to each step,” he explains. “The slightest misstep leads to an accident.”
He had planned to walk with 30 kg of supplies for 40 days – about 750 grammes per day – but since the journey took longer than expected, his rations were reduced drastically in the last two weeks. The explorer also carried winter camping material and a pack raft (a small inflatable boat) which he used on a dozen occasions to cross four lakes and two rivers.
Proud to have overcome a historic challenge, the Belgian is amazed at having been able to “reach the summit of Mount Craddle [a UNESCO world heritage site – editor’s note] and observe the blue green curtain of an Aurora Australis as well as a multitude of rainbows over the lakes.”
Tasmania is a popular destination for nature tourists, especially hikers in its national parks, which cover much of this island with a special biotope.
Louis-Philippe Loncke, who was European adventurer for the year 2016, will return to Brussels on 5 October and aims to write a book about his expedition in Tasmania.