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Oban OAP Kay Simpson is on a year-long challenge trucking across Australia’s outback in memory of a fellow road-tripper and soulmate.
In 2002, The Oban Times featured a photo of retired vet Kay with her partner Duncan Strachan on top of Queensland’s most famous Big Red sand dune. They were with travelling with Robert Cruikshank ‘Cruiky’, who still lives in Oban.
This time she is back in Oz on a solo adventure but has been joined for the most ‘difficult bit’ by friend Debbie Proudfoot, from Fife.
Debbie, 52, who is also taking on the challenge in memory of her late partner, is walking 10 miles a day in the dunes in aid of a cancer charity.
Kay arrived in Perth mid April and the Toyota Landcruiser belonging to Duncan, who died in a tragic accident in Spain in 2013, arrived mid May ready for journey to start.
So far she has clocked up 12,000 miles with about another 8,000 to go.
Kay and Debbie are tackling the Simpson Desert together with more than 1,000 dunes to cross and very little else.
Kay told The Oban Times: ‘I am travelling for a year alone in Australia in Duncan’s old Toyota Landcruiser and Debbie has joined me for six weeks to do the hardest part of the trip -the Simpson Desert.
‘We travelled from Perth to Adelaide via Alice Springs then onto the Birdsville Races through the Simpson Desert.
‘There are 1,100 sand dunes to cross – no water, fuel, garages, campsites -just a few dingos and camels.
‘My personal challenge is a donation to Animals Asia to help eradicate battery bear farming in China and Debbie’s is for Cancer Research. She is walking 10 miles a day for the whole of 2018 and has already achieved 2,500 miles. The sand dunes proved quite a challenge.
‘We arrived as planned in time for the Birdsville Races when the population of the small outback village increases from 100 to 8,000 and a great time was had by all.
‘This trip is continuing to be challenging for an OAP but with determination, planning and lots of tea and wine, anything is possible! I am driving mostly but climb hills when I find them. Duncan and I did a lot of travelling in Australia and I just wanted to see if I could do it on my own and also to relive past memories,’ she said.
The couple had known each other for 40 years and had travelled the world together as well as running a rare breeds farm in Oban during the 1980s and 1990s. Kay hopes to be back in Oban by April next year.
Two years ago she was in The Oban Times when she completed the 10,000-mile Mongol Rally with other friend Anne MacAskill from Skye, raising £7,500 for charity.
‘I hope I’m doing my bit to encourage older women to be more adventurous,’ said Kay.