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Daredevils’ outback motorkite dream takes flight

Film & TV

Two Adelaide daredevils, two microlights, nine weeks and 4000km of Australian desert – these are the ingredients of a new documentary offering an unusual bird’s-eye-view of the outback.

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With little flying experience but a lot of enthusiasm, Daryl Clarke and Aidan Glasby decided to embark upon their adventure in 2013, flying from Adelaide to Broome in modified microlight aircraft known as motorkites.

The resulting film, Motorkite Dreaming, directed Charlie Hill-Smith, will premiere in Adelaide this month.

“It probably took the best part of seven or eight years to come to fruition,” Daryl tells InDaily of the journey.

“It just sort of evolved from the idea of a couple of mates having an adventure, into something a bit bigger.”

Daryl obtained his recreational aviation licence the day they left, and developed a feel for maneuvering his motorkite throughout the trip.

The motorkite is a basic aircraft at best.

“It’s a hang glider wing and it’s got a trike underneath it, like a little buggy, that’s fixed to the wing by a Jesus bolt,” Daryl says.

“It’s got a little two-stroke engine on the back and we modified it slightly so it had larger wheels and could land on rough terrain.”

As the men flew through the air, their fiancées, Elsie Clarke and Lexi Keneally, did the journey by car, carrying the fuel and supplies needed to get to the other end.

“We were the support crew on the ground for Aidan and Daryl,” Elsie says.

“I’d never been into remote Australia before…and I was also driving a four-wheel drive with a big heavy trailer. It was a pretty mean feat for someone with little experience.”

Motorkite Dreaming features stunning images of the landscapes the adventurers traversed, including South Australia’s Lake Eyre, the Great Sandy Desert, and Dalhousie Springs in the salty desert of the Windjana National Park in Western Australia’s Kimberley region.

The team passed through 20 Aboriginal language nations, led by Aboriginal guides Bart Sansbury and Carroll Karpany. A founding member of ’80s Aboriginal reggae-rock band Us Mob, Carroll also wrote original songs for the film’s soundtrack.

“Never having been into Aboriginal communities before, it’s inspiring to be able to have an insight into their culture which is still so alive today,” Elsie says.

Twelve months before their flying adventure, Aidan and Daryl did the trip by car with Bart and Carroll, meeting with local Indigenous people as they went. After being invited back by the local communities, they decided that the purpose of their journey would be to tell positive stories from rural and outback Australia.

“At each stop we’d land near a community and go into the schools, show the kids the planes, give them a bit of a talk,” Daryl says.

The children were encouraged to paint a mural, as Elsie and Lexi transported two large canvases in the trailer.

“We’d ask them [the kids] to paint something – something that represented their individual community and a positive message to pass on to the next community,” Daryl explains.

The murals will be going up for auction once the documentary is released, to support the Royal Flying Doctor Service and Western Desert Dialysis.

The motorkites pick up wind and pace in the air, but reach only 80kmh at a top speed.

The journey wasn’t all smooth sailing, though.

“I remember my fingers and arms hurting every day from holding on. Every night, Elsie would have to give my arms a massage so I could actually feel something again,” Daryl says.

Elsie adds: “I think it was a fun adventure and very exciting for both Daryl and Aidan, but every day was still very dangerous.

“Motorkites are very weather-dependent and weather can change so quickly.

“They’d often come down and look a bit pale when they landed.”

Outback adventurers Elsie, Daryl, Aidan and Lexie.

Outback adventurers Elsie, Daryl, Aidan and Lexie.

But the positive outcomes outweighed the risks in the end, and the adventurers gained a new appreciation for the land they crossed.

“I’ve lived most of my life in the Adelaide CBD, and to be able to see your country in such a way was so amazing – the changing landscape every day, and so many different terrains,” Elsie says.

Daryl says that from the air, the different landscapes seemed almost to morph into one another, “and it’s something really quite incredible”.

“The film is another important component to share that experience with other people who might not otherwise get to see that country,” he says.

“I hope it can inspire people, young or old, to follow their passions, and just get out there and do it.

“We’re just pretty normal Adelaideans and we started this thing and followed it through, so I hope that has an impact on some people.”

Motorkite Dreaming will premiere at Wallis Cinemas Piccadilly on August 11, where the director and adventurer will be present. It will then screen across the country.

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