Mr Pritchard, a Hobart-based writer, is one of five disabled adventurers who recently completed a 42-day cycle from Australia’s lowest point, Lake Eyre, to the country’s highest point, Mt Kosciuszko.
The group covered 2152km, made three hospital trips and climbed what Mr Pritchard said was Australia’s steepest hill at Dead Horse Gap. They made the summit of Mt Kosciuszko a week ago after setting out in early September.
“This was longer than any other trip I’ve ever been on. I think all of us had to dig deep to succeed,” Mr Pritchard said.
“We all coped really well with what was thrown at us. And there was a hell of a lot thrown at us, really.”
Mr Pritchard received a brain injury and partial paralysis after a rock climbing accident 20 years ago at well-known Tasman Peninsula climbing spot the Totem Pole.
He rode a tandem cycle alongside legally blind Hobart-based furniture and lighting designer Duncan Meerding throughout the journey.
Devonport man Walter van Praag, who has cystic fibrosis and only 35 per cent lung capacity, was the third Tasmanian in the group.
The five were rounded out by paraplegic Daniel Kojta and Conrad Wansbrough, who has a spinal injury, both from the Blue Mountains.
Mr Pritchard was the first to encounter trouble, hospitalised with a broken rib after falling from the support car before the group set off from Lake Eyre. Mr Kojta was hospitalised twice — once with an infection and then with fever and dehydration.
“It was a pivotal moment really where Daniel … got an infection and had to go to hospital in South Australia, that was a really big moment because we thought that we had lost him,” Mr Pritchard said.
“But then a week later he rejoined the team and cycled on with us.”
Mr Pritchard said he felt content and proud of the group’s achievements.
“The reason we decided on an all disabled team was to showcase that disability doesn’t in any way equal inability. To challenge common misconceptions around disability and to prove that disabled people are really capable, just like the able-bodied are,” he said.
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