Skating from Bondi to Burleigh for whales

It was the longest day of the year. And for Gold Coaster Dylan Dhamu and his Toowoomba based mate, Ben Smith it was the end to an incredibly long week. Samantha Morris caught up with the lads, their family and Sea Shepherd’s Gold Coast Chapter to celebrate the end of a massive fundraising effort.
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On Sunday 22 December, Dylan Dhamu and Ben Smith skated into welcoming arms and a television news crew at Burleigh after completing the mother of all road trips to raise funds for Sea Shepherd.  Bondi to Burleigh. Eight days of skating. Powered only by foot.

“We left Bondi on Sunday,” Dylan said. “We went pretty hard on the first day but the second and third days were the hardest – that’s when our muscles started to tighten up.”

On the first night after 13 hours of skating and holed up in Gosford, the lads posted a Facebook update which hinted at their exhaustion “this was way bigger than it looked on the map!”

Ben, father to a seven month old baby, was nervous about not making it home for his son’s first Christmas. “We only had one way back,” he said. “I’m over the moon… so glad to be home.”

The fundraising skate was the brainchild of Dylan. Ben saw his post on Facebook and figured he’d need company. “I’m knackered,” Dylan said. “It was a big trip.”

“We don’t actually know the exact distance we skated because we had to go in and out of towns.”

“The longest distance we’d skated before was probably like Burleigh to north Burleigh,” he laughs. “We totally winged it. We only bought our boards two days before we flew out.”

The men faced cuts, scrapes, grazes and bruises, swollen ankles and feet and had ice baths every night. “We warmed up with Deep Heat in the mornings,” Dylan said.

They also encountered massive trucks that sometimes got a little close for comfort. “You do get used to it,” Dylan said. “It’s a bit scary, but you get used to it.”

“One day we had to skate 160km. We got to a town where there were no motels and we weren’t going back, so we had to keep skating.”

The two men were joined by fellow skaters from Byron for the last day’s leg. Byron, Jake and Odin met up with Dylan and Ben to help chew through those last 75kms.

“I’m cramping up everywhere,” Byron said. “And we only skated 75kms.”

“I can understand why their ankles are swollen.”

Those three lads also commented on the trucks. “We’re skating there, and there are trucks flying 30cm away from your face. It’s pretty intense,” they said.

Dylan and Ben raised more than $2000 for Sea Shepherd’s Operation Relentless which left Hobart for Antarctic waters just a few days before the skaters arrived in Burleigh.

Stephanie Ashton-Walters, Coordinator Sea Shepherd’s Gold Coast Chapter was understandably moved by the boys’ skating efforts.

“Dylan and Ben covered more than 900km on skateboards with no assistance,” she said. “We actually think they might have set a record.”

The $2000 raised is going to Sea Shepherd Australia to be used immediately for campaigning, refuelling and other costs associated with their direct action efforts in the Southern Ocean.

“This is Sea Shepherd’s tenth campaign to Antarctica,” Stephanie said. “Our objective is stop illegal whaling in Australia’s International Waters. We have laws in place, but there is no legal enforcement.”

Sea Shepherd’s Gold Coast Chapter is one of 12 around the nation. The local group has more than 50 members that participate in a range of local fundraising activities. More information is available by contacting goldcoast@seashepherd.org.au.

Dylan and Ben were supported by Darkside who provided discounted skateboards and by The Mad Hueys who helped out with clothing. Which looked particularly well worn when they rolled in to Burleigh.

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