AUSSIE SKIPPER REQ’D: FOR HIGH ADVENTURE

THE ODYSSEY EXPEDITION Hi, my name is Graham Hughes. I’m a British adventurer, TV presenter and a Guinness World Record holder.  You can read more about me on Wikipedia: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Graham_Hughes I’m currently in the midst of a rather epic challenge – one that I hope you might be interested in joining me in: I’m trying to step foot in every country in the world, and attempting to do so without flying.  I’m doing this to raise funds and awareness for the international charity WaterAid. I work with Lonely Planet, National Geographic and BBC Worldwide. The first series of my self-filmed TV show, Graham's World, is currently showing on the Nat Geo Adventure channel (Foxtel) and I was the star guest on Channel Nine’s Today Show last Saturday.  You can watch the interview here: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=OeaR_RW7Zu4 Over the last two years, I’ve managed to visit an incredible 184 countries around the world, from Uruguay to Iceland, South Africa to Turkmenistan; on my own, on a shoestring and without flying.  With only 17 more…

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Days 985-987: Saddle Up, People!

12.09.11-14.09.11: The time for procrastination is over. Much of this year has been spent – some might say wasted - holding out hope for a yachtie to invite me onboard his vessel and whisk me away into the wild blue yonder for nothing more than the price of a few beers and a barrel of diesel. After being held on tenterhooks for 8 months (repeatedly being told that the yacht in question would be ready to go ‘in a few days’) I gave up that pipedream. I guess the old adage is a good today as it’s always been: if something sounds too good to be true… So I cast my net out wider, appearing on TV here in Australia and on countless radio shows, always throwing in the ‘anyone up for an adventure?’ line (while trying not to sound too desperate, of course). I got…

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Days 988-989: WOO HOO!!!

15.09.11-16.09.11: I’ve just heard back from Martin at China Navigation (the subsidiary of Swire Shipping involved with PNG) and the good news is that there is a ship willing and able to take me from Lae in Papua New Guinea to Honiara in The Solomon Islands and back to Australia so I can FINALLY officially tick this great big silly continent off my list. The ship is called the Papuan Chief (cool name eh?) and it’ll be departing Lae around the 10th of October. Major thanks to Swire Shipping, China Navigation, Ray and Sebastian in PNG, Paul in Melbourne, Ross in Sydney and Martin in Singapore as well as kudos and kisses for Lorna and Mandy who helped out with the deal. Lorna especially so: she’s in the UK and the time difference meant she either had to stay up very late or get up very early in…

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Days 990-993: Go-Go-Gadget Backpack

17.09.11-20.09.11: Today THE ODYSSEY EXPEDITION gets its skates on again. Living up the traditional Odyssey brand, I’ve been waylaid for far too long - but thanks to some clever editing, I’m sure nobody watching series two of Graham’s World will notice that 9 months has passed between episodes 6 and 7. No doubt state-of-the-art CGI will be employed to reduce my ever-expanding beer gut to reasonable standards. I’m chipper, feeling good, motivated and excited about the next chapter… one that will, if all goes well, take me halfway across the world and back again. Even after I finish the South Pacific islands, I still have to pesky Palau… and I have to (somehow) get back to Taiwan to get there. Even then there’ll be four countries left to tick off the list: Sri Lanka, Maldives, Seychelles and South Sudan. So from Taiwan I’m going to have…

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Day 994: Beyond the Valley of the Ultra-Conservatives

21.09.11: I left Mandy in Melbourne’s wee Tullamarine airport on Tuesday evening. We had spent the afternoon getting the last things sorted: chief of which was a new click-click camera for me as well as a teeny battery powered razor (which I heartily recommend to any would-be globetrotter who likes to play with his (or her) facial furniture). Mand was with me as I checked onto the flight and after us both hoovering up some Nando’s chicken (truly South Africa’s second greatest export after Nelson Mandela) we said bon voyage… a parting made a little sweeter by the fact we would be back together again at the end of October. A couple of hours later I was in Brisbane airport looking for Mandy’s mate Matt who had kindly offered to put me up for the night. After a swift half at an Irish pub that was…

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Day M33: The Melbourne Identity

30.10.11: The Papuan Chief pulled into foggy Melbourne town in the wee small hours of Sunday morning. Port Philip Bay, the vast jigsaw-tip shaped body of water that sits to the south of the city is constantly in need of dredging to keep the shipping channel open – the build-up of silt streaming out of the Yarra river (and others) is pretty immense... tons of Australia eroded into the sea every year, gone forever. The channel is incredibly narrow and is tricky enough to navigate when the weather is behaving itself. This morning it was a pea-soup, the kind of fog in which you’d expect to run into Sherlock Holmes... or if you’re a rather unfortunate lady of the night, Jack the Ripper. By 9am we were alongside and waiting for customs to come onboard. Captain Santos had a email which implied we could be waiting…

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Day M34: The Night He Came Back

31.10.11: Why don’t Aussies go tropo insane for Halloween? I’ve seen more life in a terminal ward. I’m sure there are plenty of middle-aged bores who would rather not be hassled by kids for sweets once a year, but I’m of the opinion that it’s fun and you should save all your days of doing nothing interesting for when you’re dead. I dearly wanted to get dressed up as some crazed serial killer, or a vampire, or a suicide bomber or a catholic priest and go out and terrorise the neighbourhood. But nobody wanted to play. So instead I boarded a train to the city centre and met up with a couple of mates from the UK and (rather unsuccessfully) stalked the streets of Melbourne city centre. Look, I know I really shouldn’t be complaining about the city that experts around the world regard as the…

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Day M35: A Day At The Races

01.11.11: The Melbourne Cup advertises itself as The Race That Stops A Nation and for once the bods in advertising might well be telling us the truth. It’s a little like Liverpool’s own Grand National, only the entire state of Victoria gets a Tuesday off work and schoolchildren across the land stop their lessons to watch it on the telly. Gambling, like boozing, can range from a couple of tramps in grotty little cellar to a national festival were people dress up to the nines – and that’s no bad thing. Say what you like about the dangers of gambling and drinking, at least they’re democratic. The day started in fine fettle with this hapless adventurer waking up on somebody’s couch. I had been out drinking the night before with Simon and Adam, my friends from the UK, who, like Michael Caine in the 80s, are…

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Day M36: Quiz Night

02.11.11: The hangover wasn’t quite as epic as I was expecting as I rolled off Adam and Simon’s couch for the second morning in a row. Adam and Si live slap-bang in the city, just by the rather gaudy Crown Casino. They had work to be getting to, and being a unemployed bum who hasn’t had a proper job since 2001, I set off into the city in search of adventure and card tricks. Unfortunately, the guy in the magic shop on Elizabeth Street was quite derogatory when it came to card tricks. The conversation went a bit like this: ME: I’m looking for a red-backed Bicycle Deck that I can do a few tricks with. MAGIC SHOP GUY: Oh. ME: Can I look at a couple of trick decks? MAGIC SHOP GUY: No. Then you’ll know how the trick works. ME: Ah, okay, can you…

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Day M37: A Shot In The Dark

03.11.11: There are certain housekeeping matters that an extreme backpacker like myself must attend to when the opportunity presents: teeth, spectacles, tax returns etc. One of the most important is keeping on top of your inoculations. I’d like you to now give over five minutes of your life to read a quick rant about mothers who refuse to get their kids vaccinated against some of the most deadly diseases in the world. Let me make myself quite clear: I’d have porn star Jenny McCathy and all her brain-dead acolytes charged with child abuse. I mean, a catholic priest raping your child is pretty bad, and it kinda ensures a life of trauma, misery, drug abuse and possibly suicide. But parents generally don’t leave their children in the care of priests in the full knowledge that they’ll be raped. Well, they do now, but in the twentieth…

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