Every now and again I meet someone who get’s me really excited, and I’m not talking about hollywood actors or leggy blondes. I’m talking about human beings so passionate about what they do that their bursting energy levels literally smack you in the face. It’s alarming and infectious; it’s a wake up call to your one’s subdued passions or shelved hobbies.
Jeremy Platt is one such individual. He’s got a big idea and he’s going for it hammer and tong. I caught up with him for a coffee recently to find out what puts the spring in his step and the fuel in his campfire.
Tell us about yourself and WilderWheels?
I’m a Sydney local and have passions for exploring and tinkering. I especially enjoy covering distance in the wilderness with help from moving water and rolling wheels.
WilderWheels is a company set up to produce lightweight tools that make it easier and more enjoyable to access the outdoors. The current flagship is the TransScooter, a carbon fibre off road scooter that can transform into walking poles, a white water paddle, hauling trolley, saw, seat and tripod.
What’s the underlying philosophy to WW?
The two overarching goals are to open up adventure possibilities and provide new ways for people to experience wild places. Walking amongst forests, mountains and creeks is breathtaking and most of you are probably yearning for to be out there now. Walking on the vast road networks that link these places to train lines or carparks however, is a very different experience. Roads are made for wheels and as such are hard, homogenous and exposed, making for a jarring, boring time.
Such is the disdain for road bashes, that most walkers will avoid routes with long road stretches, effectively locking them up. By scooting however, it is possible to cover 3-4 times the distance while having a bunch more fun! Furthermore, walking with the scooter allows you to exit from any access road, providing additional options for lone walkers and groups (one scooter is all it takes to pick up the car). In a nutshell I am hoping WilderWheels will encourage people to head to farther flung adventures and make more use of public transport.
Where did the idea come from?
In 2012, I walked an 8 day section of the Te Araroa through the Richmond Range in New Zealand’s South Island. On day 7, the heaven’s opened, flooding the creeks and blocking my path forward. Low on food, I decided to bail onto highway 63 and continue to civilisation… along a 39 km stretch of road. On that long ‘drudgerous’ walk, I realised how commonly I found myself in this scenario and started pondering what would become the TransScooter.
Are you all about ultralightweight travel advocate then?
My pack weights have fluctuated a great deal over time. I was originally an over packer (spare medi kits ‘just in case’) and when combined with a uni budget, overnight walks were usually a 15+ kg affair. As I started to experiment with my gear, I came to the equation that less weight = more fun and quickly pushed that to the point where I would zealously cut out all the tags and superfluous zips I could find. Then, packrafting came into my life and blew my UL figures out of the water! I would now say I am moderately on the lighter side of things.
What sort of adventures have you embarked on with it?
Unfortunately, not many! I finished the first working prototype late last year and since then, have done a loop from Blackheath Station to Mt Victoria Station via Perry’s Lookdown and the Blue gum forest, packrafting trips on the Shoalhaven and Grose Rivers, parts of the GNW and also a couple of day trips in the upper Blue Mountains.
What would your dream adventure be with WW?
I have quite a bucket list, but the winner is a public transport assisted packrafting trip of the lower Grose River. Depending on speed and season it could be a long day or a great little overnighter.
Get off of the train at Faulconbridge then scoot along Grose Rd to Faulconbridge point (11km) and grab some views. Transform the scooter into walking poles and meander down the Grose River Walking Track (2.5 km). After a snack, turn the walking poles into paddles and inflate the packrafts.
This stretch of the Grose is my favourite white water stop near Sydney, with some great class III+ rapids (at the right levels). After floating the 10 or so km, pack it all in again and scoot (or paddle) the final 11km to Richmond Station.
This trip really has everything I made the scooter for: accessing an adventure that is otherwise inaccessible (road walking 22km would put most people off), turning an arduous multi car shuffle into a public transport trip and adding some enjoyment along the way!
Have you always been an adventure frother? On a typical weekend, where would we find you? What’s your ultimate microadventure?
As a child I would go for the odd bushwalk and spent a bunch of time riding BMX but really got into adventures when I started uni and joined the local club. I am currently trying to build up a sport for every weather type, white water for rain, canyoning for hot days etc and this usually dictates which areas I try and visit each weekend. I still need to find pursuits optimised for drizzle!
Ohhh, as for actual favourite short trips, a walking and snorkelling trip in the Royal National Park or the 4ish hour packraft loop of Bent’s Basin both rate highly.
How important is having a sense of ‘microadventure’ and nature escapes in your life?
Short adventures keep me sane!! When working full time, I think 40 – 100% of my brain is quietly coming up with weekend plans. Being able to head for a snorkel, camp in a cave, do a spot of rafting and maybe throw in a canyon within a weekend, really make Sydney special.
What does the future hold / what are the next steps?
I am currently putting the finishing touches on a new model! It should hopefully be everything I want in the scooter but more: lighter, smoother, smaller and easier to transition. After testing and tinkering with this one I am hoping to start a crowdfunding campaign.
I am also trying to meet as many interested people as possible. I value feedback and am all about chats… drop me a line!
You’re heading off to the states soon – are you taking your new wheels with you?
Funnily enough I am writing this from the plane. The plan is to fit in a bunch of trips in Alaska, Grand Teton/ Yellowstone and Colorado. I am taking both the old and new scooters and am hoping to rack up some serious mileage.