The Why Not? Blog

At the tender age of 25 Dave started skateboarding. 14 months later he became the first person to skate the length of Britain. Another 8 months on he had crossed Australia on his board, breaking a world record & raising over £20,000 for three charities. Now, at 27, he's writing his first book, is a motivational speaker and a businessman, and he's only just gotten started on a lifetime of challenges which from the outside look just darn crazy. So, why? You know the answer, don't you. Why not?

Saturday, January 20, 2007

Queensland. State Five

Western Australia, South Australia, Victoria, New South Wales and now Queensland. Two years ago I knew the names but not where their vast bulks sat in the giant Australian jigsaw. Now, thanks to an intimate five months skating across the world’s sixth largest country, only a quick bout of Alzheimers would rid me of my love for this great, empty lump of land.

I crossed the last border of BoardFree Australia on Wednesday 17th January. Waking up in Tweed Heads, I had just 4km to skate before Tweed turns to Coolangatta and the clocks – rather confusingly considering Queensland is directly north of New South Wales – turned back an hour. Earlier that day, I had already spent three hours in Queensland, surfing with Real Wiiings’ ( Chris Cleator, who has been sponsoring our surf lessons this journey (see video on gallery). Bobbing up and down just out of reach of some waves that frankly scared the crap out of me, I gazed north at the glistening skyline belonging to the skyscraper-clad Surfers Paradise, and couldn’t help shivering with excitement. Long ago, two months before I flew to Perth, a friend sent me a photo taken of her standing beneath the famous Surfer’s Paradise arch. I looked at the photo on my computer screen, then turned left to stare at the Australian map covering my wall. ‘Dave,’ I thought to myself, ‘it’s going to take a bloody big effort to get over there mate.’

Two hours after I rolled into Queensland I pushed into Surfers, the sky almost blocked out by towering high rises that line this section of the coast. Strangely, the place seemed just a little too empty for all this urbania. It seemed like everyone walking past held a surfboard under their arm. Of the few cars which passed, most honked a horn or waved. Many donated. “Surfers Paradise is bloody close to Brisbane,” Simon had told me the day before. That thought settled nicely in my brain, closing out all the unnecessary noise that comes with traveling through a city – however empty it is.

The next three days flew by in a blur of media attention and a little too much complacency. The phone is off the hook, Kate a picture of efficiency when our Knight Rider ring tone pierces the air. “Hello, this is Kate from BoardFree speaking, how may I help you…?” The Sunday Times, Queensland’s largest newspaper, send out a photographer as I skate north of Surfers. Several radio stations ask questions live on air, I’m becoming adept at fielding the ubiquitous cricket jokes and am fond of asking presenters how many times an Australian has skated across his or her own country. Hong Kong calls, the Times and the Telegraph run stories in the UK. Richard and Judy want me on in February. It’s all quite bizarre, but not nearly as much as the email received from a lady at the ITV, who really wanted to cover the end of my cycle journey across Australia.

Two days of rest separated the Gold Coast from Brisbane. We stayed in Hope Island with Chris Cleator and his delightful family, and I found myself feeling more at home than I’ve felt in years. From there we rushed in and out – to a TV shoot with Channel 9, to the Wet n’Wild Water Park where the team were treated to a day out and I was the subject of a media call. Ever grateful for publicity – all which contributes to our growing charity total – I still find it strange seeing my ugly mug on the telly, especially when the focus of the piece isn’t BoardFree or one of our charities. A 30 second NBN piece showing me plummeting down a ridiculously steep water slide with a face like jelly will always serve to add to the awareness of this journey – but I’ll never quite get to grips with the way Australia has taken to BoardFree, and am happy to be the occasional light entertainment which brightens up the otherwise dismal news reports.


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