An Australian man aged in his 60s has just completed the first ever solo lap of mainland Australia on a jet ski. Riding a 2017 Kawasaki Ultra LX bought secondhand, Lindsay Warner, 63, was forced to split his lap into three legs after Australia’s strict border closures during coronavirus stopped him in his tracks. Or in this case, stopped him in the water.
In the end he completed an estimated 9000 miles (15,000km) after straight-lining from point-to-point around the vast coastline, encountering freezing temperatures in southern waters and then, weeks later, tropical conditions – avoiding man-eating crocodiles – in the far north of the country.
As reported by Watercraft Zone – one of the few Australian media outlets to cover this epic feat – Lindsay Warner is expected to have set numerous distance records for ocean riding on a Jet Ski. Although these records are yet to be ratified, his entire journey was recorded on satellite-tracking apps for verification.
While his achievement is truly amazing, unfortunately he got little to no mainstream media coverage for his efforts – because Lindsay Warner was too busy keeping the throttle pinned to keep to schedule, calling days and weeks ahead to arrange fuel drops in remote locations.
The distinction about lapping “mainland Australia” is referred to because the island state off the far south-east coast – Tasmania – is also part of Australia, in the same way Hawaii is part of the USA. But here’s the thing. Lindsay Warner lapped Tasmania in January 2019 as a warm-up to his effort around mainland Australia. So, yeah, technically he has lapped all of Australia – but at separate times. You could say he has now completed the set.
Lindsay Warner – a real estate auctioneer, pilot, and formerly an endurance dirt bike racer – had planned to complete the 9000-mile (15,000km) lap of mainland Australia in one attempt, starting from Exmouth – a remote stretch of beach in the mid-north coast of West Australia – in March 2020.
But he had to pull the ski out of the water in Esperance, West Australia, after just 20 days due to border lockdowns which, amid Australia’s strict enforcement, also applied to coastal waters. After a year of uncertainty and sporadic border closures, Lindsay Warner finally made another run for it in April 2021.
He departed Esperance and made all the way across the southern coastline of mainland Australia until a new round of border closures pulled him up after 51 days, at a sleepy beachside town of Mallacoota, near the border of the states of Victoria and New South Wales.
After another month of delays he hit the water again in Mallacoota at the end of June 2021 and was able to keep going for 67 days until he finally reached Exmouth, the place where the journey began 18 months earlier. Indeed, he pulled up at the same boat ramp he departed from. Lindsay Warner told Watercraft Zone: “I’m relieved it’s over. There is a lot of planning that goes into something like this, few people would have an appreciation for it, especially without a support crew to follow you all the way.”
“I’ve genuinely been staggered by the generosity of all the people I’ve met along the way,” he said. “Considering what’s going on in the world, it’s actually a relief to see there are a lot of kind-hearted people.”
Lindsay Warner often slept rough on remote stretches of beach, or in coastguard sheds. He survived on food rations in the most remote regions. In far north Queensland and in the Northern Territory he had to find high ground each night so he didn’t become a meal for the five-metre crocodiles.
In the final fortnight, he was caught out a couple of times by the massive tides of West Australia. He set his alarm every hour overnight to push the ski out with the tide. When that didn’t work he sat on the ski from the dark hours of the morning and waited for sunrise so he could start the next leg.
In addition to the standard 78-litre fuel tank in the Kawasaki, the Ultra LX had a 60-litre bladder on the rear deck and eight 20-litre plastic jerry cans (two in each footwell and four on a sled). He didn’t ride fully loaded all the time, only on the most remote legs.
You think gas prices are dear in the US, in remote parts of Australia Lindsay Warner paid $2 to $2.40 per litre (Australian currency). The biggest fuel bill? When he had to pay an eye-watering $6 per litre on the most remote part of the trip. Lindsay Warner’s journey was largely self-funded, and he did it to raise awareness for men’s mental health.
Although at times he did have support from friends, family and strangers along the way, without a road crew following him the entire journey, Lindsay Warner had to call ahead to borrow an old trailer to pull his ski out of the water whenever it needed maintenance.
Incredibly, Lindsay Warner got the job done, having lost a little weight but gaining age and experience. He also avoided injury, which is lucky given he was always hours away from medical air support. It will likely be a long time before anyone attempts to repeat this trip solo on a Jet Ski. But Lindsay Warner will always be the first.