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Tasmanian adventurer completes world-first circumnavigation of Australia in 101 days

Sep 11, 2011

Tasmanian adventurer Robert Pennicott, fellow skipper Mick Souter and cameraman Zorro Gamarnik completed their epic circumnavigation of Australia
today, arriving at Sydney’s Darling Harbour Marina at 2.15pm.

After more than three months at sea, the trio are the first to circumnavigate Australia and Tasmania in an outboard-driven boat.

Lead by Robert Pennicott, founder of Tasmanian tourism business Pennicott Wilderness Journeys, the crew have been travelling in two 5.4m yellow inflatable dinghy-sized RIBs. Since leaving Sydney on the 2nd June, they have travelled 12,000 miles in an anti-clockwise direction along the coast.

The final week of the trip has been a family affair, with Robert’s daughter Mia (12) and son Noah (10) joining him from Hobart to Sydney. “It’s been fantastic to have Mia and Noah with me for the last week. I’ve really missed them these last couple of months,” Robert said.

Robert and his crew have been raising money for conservation and to help Rotary eradicate Polio from the world. Bill Gates has pledged $355 million if Rotary can raise $200 million by 30th June. They are currently $15 million short of this goal. The $555 million total is anticipated to lead to the worldwide eradication of polio, with just $10 vaccinating 17 children against the disease. Australia has been Polio-free since 2000, but there are still thousands of Australians living with the effects of the disease today.

"There are just 4 countries to go in our efforts to eradicate the disease. Through the hard work of Rotary, there is just that final 1% left. We really need everyone to get behind this so we can finish the job. We’re not asking for much - just $10 makes a big difference," Robert said.

Many legs of the journey were open for auction, with members of the public able to bid for a seat to come on one of the boats for a day. This was an additional fundraiser for the cause. The Gulf of Carpentaria was the hardest stretch with Robert, Mick and Zorro tackling this on their own.

"We spent 26 hours without a stop, getting hit by waves every 12 seconds with fish leaping out of the water hitting us in the head," Robert said. "I even had to tie Zorro to the seat so he didn’t fall out of the boat".

All the costs associated with the voyage were funded by Robert or his sponsors. As a result, every cent of the $195,687 he has raised to date goes towards the conservation and Polio eradication causes.

Despite the journey now being complete, Robert’s fundraising efforts will continue. Donations can be made via the website, www.followtheyellowboatroad.com, or by phoning 03 6234 4270.  There will also be a fundraising dinner in Hobart on the 24th September, tickets available from Pennicott Wilderness Journeys Office, or by phoning (03) 6234 4270.

Robert will now return to Hobart with his children where he will enjoy a well-deserved rest, before heading back to work operating Pennicott Wilderness Journeys. "I’ll be back out there on the water before you know it," Robert says. "But it will be in my big yellow boats, in familiar waters off the south-east coast of Tassie, well away from crocodiles."