Gripping account of expedition

Ellon Probus Club recently heard a gripping account of the Trans-Borneo Expedition 1978 by club member Gordon Benton.

Gordon, an urban planner and architect, spent much of his working life in various Asian and African countries.

In 1978 he achieved a boyhood dream of organising an expedition that ranged from the northern tip of Borneo to its south coast. The expedition party consisted of a mix of professions, including an architect, engineer and two doctors, of various nationalities and lasted nearly three months.

In those days there were no maps for much of the area. Photographs obtained from NASA showed nothing but dense tropical forest and no roads. Travel was on foot, much of the time hacking through virgin jungle, or by river boat.

River trips were strength sapping with boats having to be taken out of the water and man-handled around rapids and other obstacles. The trek was only possible with the help of village people who acted as guides and porters and also housed and fed the party en route - for a monetary charge.

Team spirit and moral was at times stretched to breaking point and two of the party decided to call it a day and left half way through the journey. Mental and physical fitness are essential and selection of compatible team members is of vital importance.

The experience Gordon gained was some three decades ahead of that of today’s TV survival adventurer Bear Grylls.

The vote of thanks was given by Bob Murray. Next meeting is on July 10 when local rector Tim McKay will speak about the new Ellon Academy.