As the month of October draws closer to an end, so does the monumental journey of a Western Australian woman, Sandy Robson.
Around the 23rd of this month Sandy will end an epic sea-kayaking expedition from Germany to Australia when she lands on Saibai Island, the northernmost point in my electorate of Leichhardt.
Following the same journey that 25-year-old German Oskar Speck began in 1932, Sandy launched into the Danube River on 14 May 2011 and has being making her way back to Australia every day since—a 23,000-kilometre journey.
In the final leg, she is expected to leave Daru in Papua New Guinea on 18 October. Three hundred kilometres lie between her and her home soil. Along the way, Sandy has overcome great hurdles with physical and mental endurance in the company of local paddlers who have joined her for parts of the journey. She has received well-deserved recognition, including a 2014 world record for being the first person to circumnavigate Sri Lanka in a kayak.
When Oscar Speck departed in 1932, he only intended to make it as far as Cyprus to find work, but decided to continue to Australia. It took him seven years and three kayaks, and he landed in Australian waters just in time to be interred due to the start of World War II. Despite this, his fearless and pioneering spirit was embraced by 1930s Australia and his achievement is celebrated by the Australian National Maritime Museum in Sydney.
Conflict has also impacted Sandy's route, with some sections of Speck's original itinerary, including Syria and Iran, removed due to safety concerns. Sandy's journey has mobilised a shared admiration for her efforts, and her arrival in Saibai is keenly awaited by supporters who have helped her plan and complete the journey.
One such supporter is Tim Trehearn. He contacted my office seeking help to connect Sandy with Torres Strait Border Force personnel, who will be required to clear her entrance into Australia. I have been in touch with Border Force and am hoping they will be able to time their regular patrol to Saibai on the day of her arrival and waive some of the processing fees.
Sandy describes Oscar Speck's journey as one of the most amazing kayak journeys of all time. Well, Sandy, your expedition has certainly sparked a similar admiration from me. I look forward to welcoming you to Leichhardt and back onto Australian soil, and being able to congratulate you on what has been nothing short of an amazing feat.
Follow Sandy at www.sandy-robson.com