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One who knows the full potential of The Kimberley

One who knows the full potential of The Kimberley

By Simon Penn

For John Storey, helping set the course for RacingThePlanet: Australia 2010 was a welcome opportunity to show off the landscape he loves.

After moving to Kununurra more than 30 years ago, John knows the area’s riverbeds, rocky gullies, gorges and spinifex grass plains like the back of his hand. 

He spends most of the year working as a mango farmer and outback tour guide and was enlisted by RacingThePlanet to help plot the course around Kununurra.   

“We came up in 1979 to have a look and fell in love with the place - it was a real frontier at that stage,” John says. 

“It was a frontier, and there was just a feeling of the huge potential for people to have a go at anything and make good – it was a challenge.”

John says that when he was first approached by RacingThePlanet organisers about running an event in the Kimberley he shook his head in disbelief, but the more he looked at the possibilities the more he rose to the challenge.

“When they first came out here in August last year they didn’t really know the full potential of this part of the country – it’s been an eye-opener for them, I’ll put it that way,” he says.

The concept he kept in mind when plotting the course was that he wanted to capture the area’s isolation and majestic scenery, but had to balance that with access and room to set up camp for almost 250 people every night.

So inaccessible is the country, John used a gyrocopter extensively to plot the course.
“I had to balance the country and the spectacular stuff with having it near enough to roads for access,” he says.

Adding to the degree of difficulty was heavy rain just before the event which meant much of the course was under water while they were trying to mark it, but he says that by the time competitors reach those sections it will be in good condition.

The challenges for competitors will be many, John says. The constant rock surface – even in grassy sections the hard rock is only just beneath the surface – will test the competitors, as will the sharp spinifex grass and trees. But the humidity will be the biggest test and cause competitors to expend much more energy than elsewhere.

“As ‘RacingThePlanet’ suggests, you’re running against the country, against the land,” John says.

“The course is going to throw everything at you – there will be some sections, probably 60 per cent, that will be on open track and station road, but the rest is real Kimberley … this is the Kimberley and you’ll get it all.

“Each day will be a little bit different. The landscape will vary, some days will be easygoing and others will be very challenging, but you’ll love every minute of it … I think!” 

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