Paramotor journey ends after 4,000km flight from WA to Byron Bay

On a sunny morning, two men set down on Byron Bay’s main beach after circling the Cape Byron lighthouse a few times.

Unlike most visitors, they were doing it from the air in paramotors.

Tim Rowlinson and Gary Bell took about four weeks to fly from Kalbarri, north of Perth, to Byron Bay, where they landed on Friday.

The journey was about 4,000 kilometres by air and some 6,000km by road for support crewman Geoff Warren.

Mr Bell, a Coffs Harbour resident, said flying was a dream come true.

He first saw paramotoring while riding his motorbike back from Western Australia along the Great Central Road.

“I was living the dream, but I wasn’t sure it was my dream,” he said.

“It was like I wanted to fly.”

Mr Bell said when he started flying, he had limited mobility due to a tumour in his spinal cord.

“My left side didn’t work. My left hand didn’t work,” he said.

“Being terrified in the direction of something you love for a good purpose, I reckon it puts circuits back together.

“I can even squat now, my left hand is working.”

The pair cooked up their plan to fly across the breadth of the country last year — but there was an unexpected turn for Mr Bell.

“My idea of flying across Australia was more of a relaxed slow thing, take six months to a year,” he said.

“When Tim first said ‘I think we could do this in four weeks’, I just went, ‘You’re dreaming — you’ve got no idea mate!'”

‘Tough time’ for third pilot
Marathon flights are no new feat for Mr Rowlinson, who flew across the Torres Strait to Saibai Island last year.

But with 45 individual flights to complete the journey, he said this one was even more challenging.

“Each flight has its difficulties but some, like today, were really special,” he said.

But it wasn’t always smooth gliding.

The men had set out with another glider, David Tymms, who had to pull out when he experienced technical issues near the WA border.

“It was a tough time at Eucla,” Mr Rowlinson said.

“We were stuck in a hotel for four days waiting for the wind to clear and the rest of the trip was looking very daunting at that point.”

But he said things improved from there.

“Going over the Great Dividing Range a couple of days ago was pretty special,” Mr Rowlinson said.

“Flinders Ranges were really nice, challenging, and of course the Great Australian Bight was unforgettable.

“I’ve been across the Nullarbor 17 times, but this was the best one of the lot.”

Chasing your dreams
The trip aimed to raise money and awareness for men’s mental health in conjunction with the charity Grab Life by the Balls.

Mr Bell said he wanted to prove it was possible to chase your dreams.

“I love [paramotoring] because it’s taught me not to avoid scary things,” he said.

“It’s living your dream — that’s what I like about it, and you can make up a new dream every day.”

The pair, still accompanied by Mr Warren, said they were headed for a swim, a beer, and a relax after completing the epic trip.

But they were already planning the next big adventure.

“Gary and I were just discussing it this morning, actually,” Mr Rowlinson laughed.

“If we can get Geoff, our fabulous driver, to come along with us, we might travel from the southern tip of Tasmania to the northern tip of Cape York.”