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Weird News Tasmanian family travels 14,000 kilometres around Australia with two kids on tandem bikes

05:50  08 december  2019
05:50  08 december  2019 Source:   abc.net.au

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So imagine embarking on a 14 , 000 - kilometre trek with two kids under five — on tandem bikes . "Are we there yet?" is a frequent backseat complaint but these kids have been far from bored. Almost a year ago, a Tasmanian family began a journey with a difference: mum and dad riding tandem bikes , with

Are we there yet? is a frequent backseat complaint on long family journeys, but the two kids on this two-wheeled adventure around Australia have been far from bored.

a person riding a bicycle with a sunset in the background: The Hughes family wanted a different kind of adventure. (Instagram: swagfamilyhughes) © Provided by ABC NEWS The Hughes family wanted a different kind of adventure. (Instagram: swagfamilyhughes)

Many adventure-seeking families take the opportunity when the kids are young to set off to travel the country, but it usually involves a campervan.

So imagine embarking on a 14,000-kilometre trek with two kids under five — on tandem bikes.

"Are we there yet?" is a frequent backseat complaint but these kids have been far from bored.

Almost a year ago, a Tasmanian family began a journey with a difference: mum and dad riding tandem bikes, with the kids in tow.

Nicola and Andrew Hughes hail from quaintly named Flowerpot, south of Hobart.

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They set off on January 7 with Hope, now five, and Wilfred — also known as Wilfy — who has just turned four, to explore "the places and people north, south, east and west".

"We just see it as a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity while the kids are the right age to get them out of our normal life and put big challenges in their lives," Mr Hughes said.

"But also let them see the great diversity of people that make up Australia and realise that our little place in Tasmania is very special, but it's not all that's out there."

Classroom on two wheels

Along the way, their trip has doubled as mobile classroom with several schools taking part in projects by sharing the family's experiences on the road via Skype.

When it comes to what they've learnt as a family, the Nicola and Andrew say they have been "slightly surprised" at how the kids have coped and how adaptable they are.

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"Kids are very capable of doing not only doing physically challenging projects, but they are mentally up for it, long days on the bike and being out in nature," Mr Hughes said.

They think it will take a few years for the children to absorb the experience. For Hope, it's been a "confidence boost".

"She will run up to a group of kids in a heartbeat now and she will be in a game with them almost immediately," he said.

The family has also seen the benefits of limited screen time.

"Watching their imaginations grow and they way they have developed play has been really interesting," Ms Hughes said.

"That idea of thinking 'we need to take toys on the trip for them to have something to do', well now we pull up at a camp site and they will grabs some rocks and make a racing track or set up a cubby.

"They've had a little bit of [screen time] but on whole very little and their imaginations have just skyrocketed."

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Not all about the scenery

Both agree another of the other high points has been meeting fellow Australians.

"That 50 kilometres around the coastline where 80-90 per cent of Australia lives, we've generally avoided that and we've been in the empty part," Mr Hughes said.

"The people that are in those quiet parts of the country are generally more friendly and we've made good friends really quickly.

"The less people there are the more friendly they are."

But they have encountered some negativity from people who disapprove of their mission and think it is dangerous.

"They might not like bikes on the road, they might not like the fact that we've got kids on busy highways but we don't see that as disappointing," Mr Hughes said.

"It's rare we get that. We much more likely to get 'it's good to see the Australian spirit of adventure alive so keep on going'," Andrew said.

'Big, deep breath'

They have taken on some tough challenges in remote areas with no water or phone service.

In Western Australia they cycled what's known as the Trans Access Road linking WA and SA — a 150-kilometre limestone track on the Nullabor Plain with no phone reception.

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"That was a big deep breath we took before we set off from there," Mr Hughes said.

He said safety had always been paramount.

The family spoke to locals about conditions before setting off, checked in with police, station owners and family at home. They also travelled with an emergency beacon.

And they had a strategy for the tougher days.

"The only thing we modified was to go a bit easy and do shorter days because the kids need to run around more than we do," he said.

So close, yet so far

When the family finally rides into Hobart on December 18, it won't quite be the end of the journey.

Once they are back on Tasmanian soil, in true family style they are not taking the easy route down south, instead opting to tackle even more hills going via the Central Plateau.

"It's been such a big year," Ms Hughes said.

"We could fly but it's kind of nice to have that time think about what has actually happened this year."

Their first stop will be Campbell Street Primary School in central Hobart.

Then the next day they will make a "very quiet entrance" back into the local Woodbridge community before tackling what Ms Hughes says will be the hardest leg of the journey.

"We will finish up riding up our very steep driveway — it will probably be the steepest hill we have done on the whole trip. And it's gravel."

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