by Kate on October 21, 2009

Off the plane at 8.30pm and the heat and humidity was stiffling and inescapable. Everything seemed to be pretty routine; passport control, all our baggage arrived in tact, met by Bigue, who had come to see that we manouvred through the airport safely…but as we headed for customs we hit complete chaos. “Helpers” swooped from all directions and suddenly there were very real concerns of losing some of our gear. We did have permission to film, but this was a bad idea as it attracted a swarm of opportunists. Evetually it was all bundled into two vehicles and we were off.

We are staying with Alex Mackenzie (of Bassari Resources) and are fortunate to have use of his office, drivers and helpers. There’s no way we could have organised everything in five days; visas for Mali and Mauritania, all sorts of final preparations, visit a few of the sites and generally get acclimatised.

Dakar (population – 2.5 million) is the economic centre of West Africa. It has the largest port and there seems to be masses of recent investment. The contrast between the wealthy and poor majority is extreme. Where we are staying in Yoff, there is a lot of building going on. The streets, away from the main drag, are poorly maintained. Any roads which are sealed are not maintained and are more potholes than not. Being driven around gives Dan and I a feel for what we are about to immerse ourselves into tomorrow when we start.

A visit to Dakar is not complete without a trip to Ile de Goree, a small island 3km offshore. Initial impressions are of an idyllic island; leafy cobblestone alleyways, bougainvillea, colourfully painted buildings…but the main reason for visiting is to learn of it’s more sinister history, as a major transportation point for the 300 year long Trans-Atlantic slave trade. The island was first colonised by the Portuguese, then the Dutch, British and then French. The most important site to explore is La Maison des Esclaves (Slave House). Rather than me explaining everything about it’s importance, if you click on this link you can take a virtual visit of La Maison des Esclaves: http://webworld.unesco.org/goree/en/index.shtml.

It is important to realise that while Ile de Goree is a confronting reminder of a gruesome chapter in history, slavery is still a very real issue. Slavery was only recently outlawed in Mauritania and Niger for example, but this does not prevent it continuing to oppress and keep people trapped in a cycle of poverty.

I am a little short on time, with so much do do this afternoon in preparation to set off early tomorrow morning, so more soon. Be sure to check out the latest podcast (which will be done in the next couple of days).

{ 39 comments… read them below or add one }

Maddy O'Brien October 21, 2009 at 7:13 am

HI Kate,
I am a year six student at St Finbarr’s Primary Byron Bay NSW, This term we are going to be following your ride through Africa. I am really excited to see what you will be doing!!!! And I wish I could of came with you as i really want to visit Africa and learn more about their sufferings through poverty and I hope one day I could help them.
From Maddy O’Brien

Piet Kailola October 21, 2009 at 11:02 am

Great to see that you have arrived in Africa and will be starting your adventure soon. It sounds like you will encounter some new adventures as soon as you start. Very different to your last big ride around OZ. I will follow your journey with interest. Hope everything goes well. Good luck with it all.
take care

Bella Jurd October 21, 2009 at 1:34 pm

Dear Kate (my hero),
I think what you are going to do in AFRICA is inspiring. I am also a year six student from St Finbarr’s. At the moment I am in the computer LAB at my school reading all your JOURNAL ENTRIES-how exciting they are! You sound like a really GREAT women doing so much to help these poor, unfortunate families and humans over there. What were you like when you were a kid? Did you have these dreams? Have you got any ideas for me of how I can help do something to my community, school, country or WORLD? I wish one day you could come to my school and I could meet you.
Can’t wait to hear more,
Faithfully, Bella Jurd

Savannah Kerrigan October 21, 2009 at 5:30 pm

Hi Kate,
I am also a year six student attending St Finbarr’s in Byron Bay.
As you know we are following you on your journey, what you are doing is GREATER than great. To help the world and try to make a change brings tears to my eyes. I do not want to stop you from continuing on so I hope you have a wonderful journey and help many kids and there environment, if you have time and end up seeing a lion or a zebra could you please take a photo of it i really want to see those animals for real in there own environment.
Have a safe and happy trip,
From Savannah

Davina & Rozza October 21, 2009 at 8:48 pm

Dear Kate,
We are following your every move and thinking about you lots.
Masses & masses of luck.
Love Rozza, Davina, Alice & Jack x x

Davina & Rozza October 21, 2009 at 8:49 pm

Dear Kate,
We are following your every move!
Good luck with the start – we are thinking of you lots.
Love Rozza, Davina, Alice, Jack & Tommy x x

Shinae October 22, 2009 at 9:31 am

Hi Kate!
That was a great blog. I hope that you can helpp as many people that live in poverty as you can while you are riding around Africa. Good luck Kate!

From Shinae!

Curtis and Callum October 22, 2009 at 9:35 am

Its amazing but very sad that people in poverty sometimes are enslaved. I thought that enslaving was just a myth(Callum)… those people that tryed to steel your lugage they sound very, bad did they get any thing?. i think what you are doing sounds reaaly fun. Are you a really good bike rider?. i hope you help lots of people (Curtis)…..

Taylah October 22, 2009 at 9:36 am

Hi Kate!
That was a very great blog!
I hope you have a great time!
Help as many people as you can!
I hope that you enjoy riding around Africa.
Good luck!

form Taylah

Zac + Alex October 22, 2009 at 9:36 am

great!! you arrived safely hope you are having fun……. joking it must be hard work and why are you riding around Nigeria instead of going through it. GOOD LUCK!!! hope you help as many people as you can:)
I hope when you are riding you don’t fall off and hurt your self πŸ™
our hole grade is hoping you can help as many people as you can GOOD LUCK KATE.

zac,lucy,amy and jarrod October 22, 2009 at 9:37 am

lucky nothing got stolen by “helpers”. good luck on the trip. hope you can survive the heat it is pretty gruling and make sure you drink clean and sealed bottled water. iearnt that when i myself travelled to a asian country.i think your doing the right thing just don’t get hurt by wild animals.just joking but still dont crash be careful.

Maddi and Sam October 22, 2009 at 9:37 am

Hi Kate,
We are in grade 5 at Woodford Primary School. a great time! This term we will be following you with your ride around Africa.
* Is your body feeling much different from the different humidty?
* Are you scared about anything?
We wish you good luck and look forward to hearing from you soon!
From Maddi and Sam

Zac + Alex October 22, 2009 at 9:38 am

great!! you arrived safely hope you are having fun……. joking it must be hard work and why are you riding around Nigeria instead of going through it. GOOD LUCK!!! hope you help as many people as you can πŸ™‚
I hope when you are riding you don’t fall off and hurt your self
our hole grade is hoping you can help as many people as you can GOOD LUCK KATE.

Taylah October 22, 2009 at 9:38 am

Hi Kate!
That was a very great blog!
I hope you have a great time!
Help as many people as you can!
I hope that you enjoy riding around Africa.
Good luck!

From Taylah

nick and danielle October 22, 2009 at 9:39 am

we wish you well and good luck watch out for lions and other animals have a good time.
how old is the slave house? we will be following you on the internet and we hope you have a good time.

Aylish and Ebony October 22, 2009 at 9:39 am

Hi Kate!
Your experience at the airport sounds interesting.We hope you dont have to much trouble with opportunists.

Have a great time, hope you dont fall off the bike!
from Aylish and Ebony

shakira, taylah, Shanae October 22, 2009 at 9:40 am

Hi Kate,
thats a good diary that you did. What are you hoping to see in your journey? What type of animals you are going to see on your bike ride? Was it scary when all those people come up to you at the airport? i feel so sorry them people in poverty are you sorry for them to? How long was the flight to Africa?

Jayden and Blake October 22, 2009 at 9:42 am

We are Jayden and Blake from Woodford PS. We are in year six and this term we are following you on your ride through Africa.We are learning about Poverty and doing different activities. Sounds like you had paparazzi trying to steal your cameras. Hope you don’t get to sick with the acclimatation. Hope you have a good start to your trip.

josh an maxi October 22, 2009 at 9:42 am

i think that you are gonna do the ride good

tayla and sheridan October 22, 2009 at 9:42 am

hi kate,
That is a great blog i am looking forward to listening to your podcasts.i am sore it would be very hot.It will be a very early.set off.We have not found out what your job is so can you tell us what it is.We wish you alot of good luck.
from Tayla and Sheridan

jarrod October 22, 2009 at 9:43 am

Hi Kate,

We’ve red your blog entry and we thought it was good and it’s sounds interesting……………..

lachie harrison and nathan October 22, 2009 at 9:45 am

hello we are from woodford ps we will be following you in class for this term and where your going all through Africa.
It must be very hard to do this giant bike ride so what or who has motivated you and a lot of our class wants to know what your full time job is.
Where about is dakar is it in africa or another continent
Where was the flight to dakar and how many planes have you gone on in the last 6 months because you must of gone a few planes to get to london and around.
hope you have a good time

Nick Carr October 23, 2009 at 10:41 pm

Hi Kate

Having said goodbye to you in Melbourne only recently, it seems impossible to believe that you’re really there, in Africa and at the start of your extraordinary adventure. You’re amazing. Best of luck and we’ll be following you all the way. From Nick, Simon, Isabelle and Olivia Carr

Koray and Kawthar October 26, 2009 at 1:17 pm

Dear Kate,we are so interested in your journey and happy you are helping the people fight poverty.I hope you succeed on this wonderful adventure and we will be following you on the journey,We hope to learn more about the poverty in Africa from your cycling trip,20.000 km is really amazing!!

hayden farrell October 26, 2009 at 4:05 pm

hi kate i am a year six student from st’finnbarrs in byron.I really admire what your doing. i would also like to let u no that the year 6 students from st’finbarrs will be following your journey

Maddy O'Brien October 26, 2009 at 5:10 pm

HI again Kate,
Its Maddy O’Brien!!! AS you can see my fellow classmates have emailed you and I have decided to write another one….. At school today we were talking about having something you love and useing that to help the world. As I said in my last letter I would love to be there with you but doing it for the animals and how they are treated all over the world. I was looking at this book and it was about Africa and had many picutes of animals who were killed by humans. I thought it was unfare for the animals to die!!! I wish someday I could be saving thoughs animals lifes, but I may be tooo late as many animals are becoming extinct which is very sad. I understand how you want to help other people and I’m sure you will understand how I want to help animals…. So I’ll let you get back to it and I’ll sent you an email soon….
Maddy O’Brien xx

Mitchell Evans October 26, 2009 at 5:21 pm

Hi Kate!
I am a year fiive student from St.Finbarrs school. As you have heard my class is doing our H.S.I.E unit on you and your journey. I think what you are doing is great. You are really helping those who need help the most. I hope that everything in your journey goes well and that you have no problems.
Will talk soon , Mitchell Evans

Britt Gow October 27, 2009 at 9:23 am

Dear Kate,
Congratulations on your arrival in Dakar and best wishes for your journey. I travelled to Kenya and Tanzania in 2007 and one of the things I remember most vividly was the terrible roads and swarms of people. I hope you have the wind on your back and can avoid the mud! The magnificent wildlife was a highlight for me. Best Regards, Britt Gow

Jai Bianca and Zoe October 27, 2009 at 2:09 pm

Hello Kate,
We are 5/6 students from Coolaroo South Primary School and we are learning about breaking the cycle and a bit about Africa this term.We just want to congratulate you on ariving in Senegal.We will be following you all the way and taking a look at your blog often.

We we’re just wondering how many countries you are crossing in your journey?
From Bianca,Jai and Zoe

molly-mae October 28, 2009 at 1:01 pm

Hello Kate i am from Coolaroo South Primary School and we are learning about Africa. Your blog is so interesting. I was wondering what Africa is like. I HOPE YOU KEEP YOUR CHIN UP AND BOOGY,BOOGY HARD.

michael mac aleavey October 29, 2009 at 6:49 pm


Well done it is so good reading Paddys news and your details you are truly on the way

watching every moment I can , just great.

Cheers Michael

henry edmeades October 30, 2009 at 8:51 am

hey kate,
im a year six student from ST Finbarr’s. hey your so cool for riding that far on abike for others. I was wondering how you thought of going on this amazing trip see ya.

Natasha Millward October 30, 2009 at 8:56 am

Hello Kate ,
I’m a Yr 6 student from Byron Bay reading your website. I thought I should leave you a comment .
I think what you are doing helping these poor people in Africa is really nice of you. Your a wonderful lady. Can’t wait to here more of your cycling journey in Africa.
keep up the good work !!
from Natasha πŸ™‚

Georgia Solway October 30, 2009 at 9:01 am

Hi Kate i am a yr 6 student from St Finbarrs Primary in Byron Bay NSW. As u can see my fellow classmates have also emailed u as well.
I am very concerned about the amount of animals that are going to soon become extinct.
I love Africa and in our class we are reaserching Africa and my chosen country is Togo with thye capital city Lome..
We have to go back to class now so i will have to talk soon
Love and best of luck
Georgia Solway xx

michael mac aleavey October 30, 2009 at 10:06 pm

Kate ,

Now I have internet up going well I an enjoy the progress reports ,which are great, looking forward to next voice news,
Watching every moment possible

I can see successful journey , all the best for your TEAM ,PS OUR WISHES TO PADDY

Georgia Solway November 13, 2009 at 10:08 am

hi Kate i hope you are going well and my class is thinking of you and we hope you are alright..
bye for now georgia xxxx

Gary Lee December 3, 2009 at 8:38 am


Am taking the RSS feeds and feel like I am on the journey with you. Congratulations on a wonderful communication program. We took a team from BH to the Silver Racket last night. Mike H beat Kieran B in 4 sets. Last 2 were love and 1. Go the oldies!

Gary and Jenny

Ross Weber & Kate Burridge December 26, 2009 at 7:35 am


We’ve been following with great interest – it certainly brings Africa home. Thinking of you over Christmas and wishing you and your team all the very best in the New Year!

Ross, Kate & Daniel

Someone January 6, 2010 at 4:12 am

who are you and how does everyone no you ?

great blog btw πŸ˜€


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