Five days and 15,000km: three Kiwis chasing an Aussie record
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Wild bunch prepares to take on mammoth drive around Australia
The first question, obviously, is why?
"We're both standing here shaking our heads, wondering why we're doing it. But, we will do it, we will win," Gary Stirling laughs out through the phone.
Next month, Gary of Hastings and the husband and wife duo Troy and Kyla Twomey from Palmerston North will fly over the ditch to try to claim a lofty record -- the record for circumnavigating Australia by car.
They're doing it with a rental car, no less. "We are within their bounds of unlimited mileage," says Gary. "So we thought we'd test their bounds."
Troy Twomey chimes in: "We could honestly say we're going up the coast. What are you doing in the car? Well, we're just going around the coast."
He's not wrong, I suppose.
The drive around Australia is approximately 15,000 kilometres. The bar for tackling the task had stood at more than six days for longer than 10 years, until another group shaved the time down to five days, 13 hours, and 42 minutes just a month and a half ago.
The idea to take them on came off the back of a round-Australia trip Gary took earlier this year with his wife Raewyn. They tackled the task with a campervan, and — though they had taken their time and seen the sights along the way — the amount of time the trip had soaked up was surprisingly close to the records that had been set.
This time around things are going to be different. The trio will aim to cover around 2,600 kilometres each day, with the longest breaks along the way being those at petrol stations. No stops for sleeping, no stops for anything — apart from a shower, perhaps.
"We might even find a road house with a shower, which I think will be a mutual decision that we're all going to need one after day two," says Gary.
Their main challenge? The Australian wildlife.
"We're trying not to add to the road kill statistics. A lot of their highways are not fenced, and you're talking cows and bulls. Kangaroos can weigh up to 80kg, and they're also going to have a major impact on the time.
"We're lucky in New Zealand, we've only got possums mate and the occasional sheep.
"We're not out there wanting to set any land-speed records; it can be done by sticking to the speed limit, and we will be. We're not going to be cruising at 200km/h or anything stupid like that. That's not what it's about."
In a time where so many are content to sit on the couch, the prospect of taking on record books for the sheer hell of it is something that still rings true as a Kiwi rite of passage — rocket fuel motivation for the group as they start to count down the days.
"It's going to cost us $650 for a rental car for the week, we're going to put a couple of thousand litres of fuel through it, and we're going to have something that we're ... probably never going to want to do again," says Gary.
"It's an adventure. Sir Edmund Hillary sort of pokes the mind — 'it was there, knock the bastard off'."
Want to follow their journey? Find them on Facebook at, On a Mission: The Aussie Road Trip.