Tasmania Winter Trek Complete

Expedition promo. Photo: Louis Loncke

Belgian explorer Louis Loncke has completed his 52-day winter crossing of the Tasmanian wilderness, 16kg lighter and with just a few minor injuries.

On his expedition in 2007, trench foot from the cold and wet forced him to quit. His calves were only slightly infected this time, and the numbness and black toenail are already healing. Loncke’s protected his vulnerable feet and legs with a dry suit and special 3D-printed insoles, which kept the moisture out and added stability when walking.

Nevertheless, he had several dangerous encounters, and his crushing 62kg backpack made every stumble potentially game-ending. Near the Gordon Lake, a waterfall temporarily trapped him and forced him to scramble up a 30m cliff by clutching small trees and plants. Then he fell into the Derwent River while hauling his small boat over a sweeper. The rushing water caught both of them, and his boat began to sink. He managed to extricate himself but lost a dry bag holding his camera, microphone, sunglasses and headlamp.

On another occasion, a storm forced the paddler to seek refuge on a small islet in the Gordon Lake. He considers these the “three moments where I could have been killed.” He is offering a $1,000AUD reward for the return of his camera, which holds all of his footage.

An update of his incident at the Derwent River. Photo: Louis Loncke

He started the 500-km expedition with 62 kg of food, water and equipment. His dehydrated meals ran out in 39 days. Normally, he ate two energy bars during the day, but he now had to ration some of those snacks for meals. In his last week, he had “no real supper”, except hot water and an aspirin before bed.

He is now in the process of creating a new website called madbelgian.com, displaying his expedition’s photography and videography, other resources, links and ideas related to the expedition. He will also work on a book. In the meantime, all news from his journey can still be seen on his personal blog.