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Aussie odyssey


After 70 gruelling days, Australian adventurers Chris Bray, 24, and Clark Carter, 23, completed the first unsupported traverse of Victoria Island in August. Straddling the boundary between Nunavut and the Northwest Territories, Victoria Island remains largely unexplored.

Using a tiny laptop and a satellite phone, Bray documented every step of the journey on his website ( His dispatch on the third day described the pair’s encounter with “death terrain,” the cheeky nickname he and Carter gave to fields of jagged, ice-shattered rock (above) that had been one of their greatest challenges when they first attempted the trek three years ago. That trip ended after 58 days, when extreme cold and wind and other setbacks forced them to quit. This year, armed with the benefit of hindsight, the intrepid men flew back, dug up the Australian flag they had buried to mark their original end point and set out to finish what they had started.

Instead of hauling and paddling wheeled kayaks, as they had done on their previous trip, they manoeuvred two self-designed allterrain amphibious carts with 1.5-metre-diameter wheels made from tractor inner tubes wrapped in bulletproof fabric. The two-wheeled carts were conceived to roll over large objects, to snap together to float like a raft and to serve as a portable campsite.

Supported in part by a grant from The Royal Canadian Geographical Society, this year’s expedition continued to provide an extraordinary glimpse into this remote region, which had started with discoveries made in 2005, when Bray and Carter came across ancient artifacts, including bone tools and stone tent rings. Following strict instructions not to disturb such sites, they recorded the precise locations using a GPS, took photographs and passed the information along to the Kitikmeot Heritage Society in Cambridge Bay, Nunavut. “They were very happy, as they have no data about some of those areas,” wrote Bray in an e-mail from Victoria Island.

One of the rewarding aspects of this journey, says Bray, was connecting with viewers worldwide, including Australian students who followed the trekkers’ progress as part of their curriculum. He admits he was mainly driven by the personal pursuit of adventure, but he hopes sharing the experience will inspire others. “We might help to open people’s eyes that these kinds of amazing, unexplored places still exist out there, right in your own backyard for Canadians,” writes Bray. “By showing how pristine and special it is, we hope that people may feel more inclined to watch out for the environment a little, to see that it is worth protecting.”

— Shawna Wagman



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