Student pedals toward next life adventure 

Environmental Science Honours student Adam Bourke plans to “get up close and personal with wildlife” during a 4200 km bike ride to Perth before Christmas

Fit and energetic Charles Darwin University Honours student Adam Bourke will take the long way home this Christmas – by cycling down the West Australian coast to Perth.

Adam plans to set off in early November on the 4200km journey having allocated 45 days to reach his destination.

“I’ve been a cyclist for a few years now and can’t think of a better way to celebrate the end of my days as a uni student,” he said.

“The chance of getting full-time work late in the year [in Darwin] is pretty slim and my housemates will be a way on holidays, so I’m taking the opportunity to spend Christmas with my father.”

Adam, who completed a Bachelor of Environmental Science degree at CDU last year, has spent this year completing an Honours program in which he examined the impact of boardwalks on macro faunal communities in Darwin mangrove forests.

He has observed the abundances of three animal groups – crabs, marine snails and mud skippers – within close proximity (up to 12 metres) of boardwalks on Channel Island, East Point and Casuarina Coastal Reserve.

“A negative change in the abundance of crabs, for example, may contribute to an adverse effect on the function and structure of the adjacent forest,” he said.

The project has helped Adam strengthen his affinity with the environment, ecology and bio systems.

“I’m a nature lover. A long-distance bike ride is a really good way to get up close and personal with wildlife. I will see so much more than if I was driving the highway at 110 km/h.”

This will be Adam’s second bike-riding epic. During the mid-semester break in 2009 he satisfied his desire to see Uluru by pedalling his $2200 custom-made Cannondale T2 touring bike to the foot of the monolith.

“I remember the sense of excitement as I first saw it on the horizon. But that soon turned to frustration when I realised my camera wouldn’t work. I had ridden 2000km and couldn’t even take a photo of it.”

Adam refuses to be intimidated by dingos, road trains, the heat or by the enormity of the task he has set himself next month.

“It’s a case of breaking down the big picture into little bits. If you take every day as it comes – and I expect to ride about 110km a day – then what sounds like a long way becomes quite manageable.”

Adam takes some inspiration from Australian kayak instructor Terry Boland.

“When I was growing up Terry paddled, cycled and walked 24,000 km around Australia and I thought that was impressive.

“With the right preparation and the right frame of mind people can achieve all sorts of things.”

Adam anticipates returning to Darwin and working in the ecology sector from 2012.