He could hardly have chosen a hotter time to skateboard his way through the Bundaberg Region, but that is what Tom Drury, aka Gordy Fruito, has done.
Gordy, a nickname the Broken Hill resident prefers to go by, is skateboarding his way from Melbourne to Cairns to raise money for the construction of the first skatepark in Laos where he has worked as a tour guide and English teacher.
The 28-year-old will leave the Bundaberg Region this week as he departs from Gin Gin to Miriam Vale – the longest stretch of his 4000km journey to date and must be one of the few people happy with the amount of road works that have been completed in the area in recent years.
“I’ve been told that a large section of the highway between Gin Gin and Miriam Vale has been under construction for a while which is pretty good, because it means the roads are a bit wider and smoother which means they are easier to skate on and I can conserve some energy,” he said.
“It’s been more difficult since I got to Queensland. It’s been really hot, and the roads haven’t been as good for skateboarding.”
Rather than take the most direct route between Melbourne and Cairns, Gordy’s travel route is incorporating back roads as he seeks to learn more about the areas he passes through and find preferred skateboarding conditions.
“I’ve done over 2500km so far and I have about 1500km to go,” Gordy said shortly after pulling into Gin Gin on Tuesday, having set out from Bundaberg earlier that day.
“I was so excited when I saw the first sign that said Cairns on it when I was coming into Gympie!”
Gordy said he had worked in Laos for three or four years and, when he arrived there 10 years ago, skateboarding was just being introduced to the country.
Gordy is hoping to raise $25,000 to pay for materials such as concrete, other building materials and tools, for the construction of the skate park which has already received a commitment from Make Life Skate Life, a non-profit organisation, to build the facility.
He said it was ironic that he was skateboarding in an area generally thought of as unsafe, busy roads and highways, to ensure skateboarders in Vientiane, the capital of Laos, did not have to do the same.
“Laos, being a poor country with a communist government, there was no way a skatepark was going to be built by the government and there is nowhere safe for people to skate there, so they have to use the streets, temples and car parks.”
Gordy has never previously travelled along the east coast of Australia and is making the most of the experience.
“I’ve learned a lot about my self and met a lot of interesting characters along the way.
“I’m paying for the trip expenses myself, but I’ve had complete strangers put me up in their houses, cook for me, provide drinks and donations – they’ve been so generous.
“I’ve also had messages from people saying that I’ve inspired them to keep on pushing through whatever it is that they are going through which is great – I didn’t expect that.”
Gordy said he had enjoyed his travel through the Bundaberg Region, some of which reminded him of home and former travel destinations.
“The sugar cane reminded me of South East Asia and seeing it sort of sent me back there,” he said.
“And I love the red dirt. I’m from Broken Hill and seeing the red dirt made me feel like I was home.
“Everyone I’ve met in the Bundaberg Region has been super friendly and super kind.”
Gordy said another favourite memory of his journey through the region was pulling into a hotel at Childers last Friday.
“There were a few people there in flip flops and singlets all chatting and everyone was happy because it was the end of the working week, and they were cheersing each other, it was great!”
Gordy has raised $11,000 of his $25,000 target so far. To find out more about his journey or to contribute to his fundraising efforts visit his pages (under the name Gordy Aboard) on Facebook, Instagram and GoFundMe
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