Adventurers to push rail car across Australia

By AAP with AG Staff 12 April 2011
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A team of adventurers plan to break a Guiness World Record by pushing a rail car across Australia.

A TEAM OF OUTBACK adventurers are aiming to set a world record this year when they journey from Adelaide to Darwin on a hand-powered rail car known as a kalamazoo.

The arm-pumping journey, which sets off on July 24, must be completed in 14 days to earn a Guinness World Record, said Bryan Littlely, the project co-founder. It is also a fundraiser for the Royal Flying Doctor Service.

Littlely says the idea first came up over a few drinks about 10 years ago. “Then we got tired of people telling us it couldn’t be done. So we’ve set out to prove the knockers wrong in typical Aussie style,” he said.

The 14 men from across Australia will work in two teams, powering the kalamazoo across the railway tracks in four, two-hour stints each day. Five members will be on the car at a time, with four pumping and one rotating as they tire.

It will take about 550,000 pumps to get from Adelaide to Darwin, a distance of 3000 kilometres.

“We’re training pretty hard now,” Littlely said on Sunday following the official launch of Kalamazoo Crossing 2011 with a demonstration at the St Kilda tram line. “You need general fitness and endurance. It’s not that you have be very strong to do it, but you’ve got to have a bit of resilience.”

Royal Flying Doctors fundraiser

The journey is also a fundraiser for the Royal Flying Doctor Sevice, with donations going towards medically equipping one of their aeroplanes – a $600,000 goal.

“Just when you thought there was nothing left to explore, Kalamazoo Crossing 2011 will break through new frontiers,” said Charlie Paterson of the Royal Flying Doctor service. “You should never say ‘never’ to a group of proud Aussies.”

Littlely said allying with the Royal Flying Doctor Service was “a perfect fit.”

“We’re travelling though the outback and through communities that rely on them and the railways,” he said.

The track from Adelaide to Darwin is an operational railway, so the kalamazoo team will sometimes have to make way for passing trains – probably a welcome chance to catch their breath. A support crew will travel by road, carrying supplies, spare parts and the other team members.

The kalamazoo was loaned to the team by Ivan Wood from South Australia’s Old Tailem Town tourist site.

If the team makes it to Darwin in two weeks, they will earn the Guinness record for the fastest crossing of Australia from south to north by a hand-powered rail car.

“I guess that gives people a chance in future to beat us,” Littley laughed.