COUPLE Jules Cooper and Jess Macaulay have traded luxury hotels and guided tours in favour of the seeing the world an entirely different way – on bike.
Living in London in 2008, the pair decided to pack up and move their life to Australia.
But rather than purchasing a plane ticket and jetting to Australia directly, they instead decided to embark on an epic cycling journey instead.
Covering four continents, 27 countries and a staggering 33,000 kilometres, the couple has arrived in Australia and is steadily making its way down the eastern coast, headed for Melbourne.
Stopping in Gympie yesterday was a special occasion for Jules, who attended St Patrick’s College in his youth.
“It’s a sentimental stop for me,” he said.
Impressing Jules the most about Gympie was the fact that despite the rapid growth, the town that saved Queensland had managed to hang onto its “country charm”.
The pair of intrepid cyclists also dropped in on St Patrick’s Primary School, keen to offer a reprieve to students who had just been through a gruelling session of NAPLAN testing.
“We like visiting the school kids and sharing our experiences with them,” Jess said. “Some of the questions they ask just amaze us.”
The epic journey began in December 2008 when the couple flew across to Ushuaia, Argentina.
With no previous cycling experience, the adventure about to be undertaken was immense.
“We weren’t cyclists at the start, so we even struggled putting the bikes together on the side of the road,” Jules said. “It was definitely a challenge but we quickly found our feet.”
An easy start may have been the preferred option for some, but Jules and Jess didn’t hesitate in tackling tough terrain.
The pair rode through the Andes in Peru, covering 8000km, but Jules said the experience was “rewarding”.
From there, the journey took the cyclists back to Europe, where they pedalled their way across The Alps to Moscow before pushing on to China for an extended three month stay.
Following the culturally rich experience in China, Jules and Jess visited Singapore before flying to Darwin to commence the Australia stage of their worldwide journey.
Staying in China became a real challenge as the pair battled to overcome the language barrier. Just checking into a hotel required two and a half hours as words were arduously translated and pieced together.
Since touching down in Australia, the 7,700km journey to Melbourne will be undertaken in conjunction with the Ardoch Youth Foundation – a not-for-profit organisation helping to make education a reality for disadvantaged Australian children and young adults.
Speaking to various schools along the way and engaging with children on their website, who in some cases have been doing school projects on their cycling adventure, Jules and Jess have been an inspiration.
“We invite everyone to be a part of this amazing journey,” the pair said.
“Browse the website, follow the blog and if you feel the urge, make a donation, comfortable in the knowledge everything you give will directly benefit these kids in need,” Jules said.
The couple’s website is www.julesandjess.com and links to Ardoch Youth Foundation are available for donations. The trip has been a life-altering experience neither will be likely to forget.