MADE IT: Simon Black and Joshua Rigney are home at last after their roll ’round Australia trip.
MADE IT: Simon Black and Joshua Rigney are home at last after their roll ’round Australia trip. Contributed

Mates make it back after epic road trip around Australia

A MASSIVE 20 days, 14,834km and all Australian states and territories later, Joshua Rigney, Kel Payne and Simon Black have made it back to Tannum Sands.

Their whirlwind adventure was to help raise awareness of mental health issues and suicide within the Australian construction industry.

Mr Rigney said they met a lot of former workmates and made new acquaintances.

"Aside from the workers, we actually met a lot of farmers in rural areas that are also dealing with financial and drought pressures," he said.

"We'd been told that there had been a lot of suicides in Charters Towers and Darwin had had a couple in the last few months."

As well as raising funds for Mates in Construction, their ultimate goal was to ask people: "Are you okay?"

The trio spent just five weeks planning the road trip, bravely deciding to complete it in a '91 Corolla.

"People said we were crazy and that we weren't going to make it, let alone get anything out of it, but we proved them wrong and it was well worth the wild ride," Mr Rigney said.

"I wanted to pay tribute to my late grandfather Jim Rigney also by using the car, which without him reminding me to 'check the oil and water', wouldn't have made it."

And despite its lack of air-conditioning, the car never failed them.

"The car itself never had any problems, but on our second day in Western Australia we went down a dip which was flooded, but at 100kmh we had no choice but to drive through it and the 40cm of water did take its toll on the baby," Mr Rigney said.

"No doubt we had some sketchy moments but unbelievably we didn't even have a flat tyre."

In light of the support for their campaign, they would consider doing another trip at the end of this year.

"This time we'll think about getting a four-wheel drive," Mr Rigney said.

TRIP HIGHLIGHTS AND LOWLIGHTS:

Best:

  • Scenery at the north end of Gregory National Park.
  • The Margaret River, because we got to have Christmas with family and Gladstone people who were over there.
  • An unknown beach spot at the start of the Great Ocean Rd where we laid out the swags for the night.

Worst

  • Three-way roadhouse where we were running out of fuel.
  • The NT humidity, just in general, where it was 29.5 degrees through the night, and not having air-con through the day was a killer.


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