A man from Broken Hill in Far West New South Wales is on a mission to skate more than 3,600 kilometres up the east coast of Australia to bring his love for skateboarding to fellow enthusiasts in underdeveloped countries.
Tom Drury, 28, has already travelled 1,200km along the coastline from Melbourne to Wollongong in a bid to reach Cairns in Far North Queensland by March.
“I started at Melbourne Central and then I went down the Mornington Peninsula and got a ferry to Phillip Island and I’ve just been following the coastal road all the way up — it’s been killer,” he said.
Mr Drury’s first long-distance skateboarding venture was in June this year when he skated 115km from Broken Hill to Menindee in one day.
He now plans to be the first person in the world to travel along the east coast from Melbourne to Cairns entirely on a skateboard, while documenting his travels to his followers on .
“I’m doing anywhere between 50 and 80km a day, but I usually average around 70km a day,” Mr Drury said.
Relying on the generosity of strangers
Much of the road on his trek to the top of Australia is rocky, narrow, and includes some of the busiest highways in the country.
“Some parts of the Princes Highway there’s a lot more traffic, the roads weren’t built for me and my skateboard, some parts have been super stressful, but I’m still alive,” he said.
Mr Drury says he’s built up quite the reputation with motorists, who have stopped to give him water and snacks, or pulled over out of sheer curiosity.
“I’ve been couch surfing the entire way, a few times people have reached out to me on my socials and have offered rooms, so I’ve sort of been staying with strangers,” he said.
“I’ve had to doorknock before because I ran out of water and I went to a farmhouse and was able to fill up my water there but that was my most challenging day.
“The weather has been so humid, so I’ve been chaffing.”
Mr Drury has not only embarked on this wild venture completely alone but he has carried nothing but the bag on his back.
“I’ve got my one backpack with all my water, three sets of clothes, my drone and my GoPro, a pair of flip flops, my melodica, which is a keyboard instrument, and some tools,” he said.
“Just the bare essentials, but it’s pretty heavy once I’ve got all my stuff on.”
‘A good attitude and an open mind’
Aside from his unequivocal love for skateboarding, Mr Drury’s main incentive is to raise $25,000 to build a skatepark in Laos.
Mr Drury has been working with NGO to secure land for the skatepark, and says the money he is raising will go straight to building costs.
“Laos is the only country in South-East Asia that doesn’t have a skatepark and the skate scene is huge over there,” he said.
Since the beginning of his long-distance skate, his has erupted with donations, but Mr Drury says he has a long way to go before he reaches his travel and fundraising goals.
“I’m just a massive believer in skateboarding … it’s been a huge vice in my life and it’s important to have a safe space for people to skateboard,” he said.
Despite his large task ahead, Mr Drury says it is worthwhile.
“A lot of people think you need to be really fit to do this stuff,” he said.
“It’s not about that, it’s about having a good attitude and an open mind about things that might happen on the road, but you can’t let that stop you.”