Geoff Wilson Nears End of Kiting Journey Across Australia’s ‘Red Heart’

An explorer best known for his kite-skiing polar journeys has almost completed a new trip — this time through the Australian Outback.

As of August 29, Geoff Wilson has traveled across 477km of the Simpson Desert, using only his legs and a kite. With less than 100km to go, the Australian explorer sounded optimistic on Monday that he would soon reach “the end of this wild desert”.

Wilson has mostly relied on wind and a kite to pull him and his small supply buggy across this arid landscape called the “Red Heart” of Australia for its brilliantly colored sands.

After leaving Birdsville, Queensland on August 19, he has spent the last 10 days in the Simpson Desert. When the wind is calm, Wilson relies on his legs to keep going.

simpson desert

The Simpson Desert of Central Australia. Photo: Bronwyn Gudgeon/Shutterstock


This marks his third attempt in 11 years to cross the desert this way. He’s already made it farther than ever before, so it seems likely that Wilson will finally fulfill this latest goal.

On Monday, he set a new personal best for desert travel: 119km in a single day. It only took 11 hours of continual movement, sometimes at “breakneck speeds and at other times at a mere crawl”, Wilson wrote.

“119km of getting smashed in a buggy across rough desert feels like a 300km day on the ice,” Wilson said. “Broken but overjoyed tonight as the stars herald another cold desert night.”


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‘Kite-killing trees’

Wilson made headlines in 2020 by setting a new record for the longest solo unsupported journey in the polar regions.

The Australian set out from Thor’s Hammer on the Antarctic coast in November 2019 and ultimately covered 5,306km by kite-ski in 58 days. While this latest expedition through the Outback is significantly shorter (and warmer), the desert has offered its share of challenges.

“Kite-killing trees,” thorns, washouts, soft sand, and “other assorted death traps” all beset him in Australia.

However, this time around, Wilson has a two-person support team. On day two of the expedition, he posted a photo of his teammates fishing his kite out of a tree.

On day four, the wind died, and Wilson crossed 40 dunes, totaling 20km, using only manpower.

“The downs are fun but the ups sap calories and human will as the soft sand drains all forward momentum,” he said last week.

When the wind finally returned, Wilson could resume his roll across the desert with his kite-propelled buggy.

Wilson should finish his desert journey this week.

Andrew McLemore

An award-winning journalist and photographer, Andrew McLemore brings more than 14 years of experience to his position as Associate News Editor for Lola Digital Media. Andrew is also a musician, climber and traveler who currently lives in Medellin, Colombia. When he’s not writing, playing gigs or exploring the outdoors, he’s hanging out with his dog Campana.