year's Isuzu Challenge is different than those in the past:
the emphasis this year is on cross-country driving -- the
ability to cover
as many kilometers as possible in a short period of time.
By September 9, the teams will have crossed Australia from
south to north - a distance of 3,500Km.
One of the challenges of this journey is the country's wide-open
space. It's been three days since we left the last town
and it will be another two days before we see the next one.
Each day we cover an average of 400Km and the weather changes
from one extreme to another: From hot to cold or from rain
and strong winds to perfect sunshine.
campsite is on the edge of the Simpson Desert and we arrive
after a long day of driving. In just a few days members
of the Isuzu Challenge have bonded - it is as though we
have always known each other. On the fourth day we face
an additional challenge: navigation. We separated into groups
of three vehicles to cross the Simpson Desert: Over 300km
of isolated expanse. But because there are no signposts
or key features in the desert we rely on the Meridian Gold
satellite navigation device (GPS) from Magellan. The GPS
units were programmed beforehand with the routes we are
go our separate ways we look forward to meeting up again
at the end of the day without losing any vehicle on the
Horowitz, 30, is a civil engineer by profession. "I
made my first field trip two years ago in Ethiopia,"
Sharon tells us while we are navigating our way in the desert.
"I took part in a voyage called 'Queen of the Desert'
with female participants only. For nine days we crossed
southern Ethiopia and this is actually how I was infected
with the traveling bug. Following the voyage in Ethiopia
I decided to join the Isuzu Challenge and here I am. So,
you can trust me when it comes to field driving."
most amazing part of navigating the Simpson Desert is the
dunes: indeed these are not very high but they stretch along
the whole desert, from north to south, some of them are
300km long. It's an amazing sight indeed.
Isuzu vehicles cross the dunes easily but for the administration
teams who follow the teams carrying food and water in two
Isuzu NPR trucks - it is not a simple matter.
time they stay behind. And with them are our water, food,
refrigerators, a gigantic kitchen tent, generator, tables
and chairs. In short, everything needed to prepare hearty
meals at the end of a hard day's driving. So for us there's
a lot less pampering tonight: no hot water, no electricity
and we will cook dinner ourselves. But there is good news.
At the end of the day - having traveled 300km - everyone
arrives safe and sound at our meeting point.
: Gerry Avramovich