Motorbike trip across Asia for awareness

Rowan English, Head of the National Centre for Prosthetics and Orthotics at La Trobe University, will leave Melbourne on Friday to kick start a four month motorbike trip from here to Kobe in Japan, stopping at a number of universities and colleges in Southeast Asia on the way.
Rowan English on his motorbikeRowan hopes to raise awareness here in Australia of the pressing need for prosthetics and orthotics in many Southeast Asian countries, and of the work done by charities such as The Cambodia Trust, Handicap International and the Red Cross.
These organisations aim to increase the mobility and functional skills of people with disabilities. This often involves providing access to prosthetics and orthotics services, and training skilled practitioners in the field.
‘Landmines and unexploded ordinance have been a big issue in Cambodia and Laos since the 1970s, leading to huge demand for prosthetics services,’ says Rowan. ‘Now, it’s not just landmines but also an increase in traffic accidents in Cambodia, as the cities become increasingly modernised and crowded.’
Rowan will also visit a number of universities and colleges, including in Jakarta, Bangkok, and Phnom Penh, as part of his 19 000 kilometre motorbike journey.
He aims to continue to develop partnerships that allow students from countries such as Cambodia to come to Australia to continue to their studies, and also provide opportunities for La Trobe students to study or undertake placements in Southeast Asia.
La Trobe has previously had a study partnership with a college in Phnom Penh, offering distance education to students from a range of countries to help them develop skills and expertise in prosthetics and orthotics.
‘La Trobe is the only university with this level of prosthetics and orthotics program in the southern hemisphere,’ says Rowan. ‘Given the need for expertise in this area in Southeast Asia, La Trobe can continue to play a role in helping develop this knowledge.’
But while there is a work component to the trip, Rowan says that it is also about enjoying the experience of what is bound to be a challenging trip at times. The journey is the culmination of a decade of daydreaming and two years of planning.
‘This trip combines my passions for travel, meeting people and riding motorbikes, as well as my profession of prosthetics and orthotics,’ says Rowan.
Rowan grew up in Finley, NSW, and accompanying him on the trip will be his childhood friend Bruce Taig, who lives in Finley, not far from the Victorian border.
Both Rowan and Bruce grew up on farms and have been riding motorbikes since they were kids. They are sure to have their skills tested as they travel through Timor Leste, Indonesia, Malaysia, Thailand, Cambodia, Laos, China, South Korea and Japan in the coming months.
Rowan and Bruce will leave Melbourne on Friday 22 February to make their way towards Darwin. They plan to leave Darwin for Dili on Tuesday 5 March 2013.

Follow Rowan’s journey on Facebook.


Suzi Macbeth
Communications Officer
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Mark Pearce
Director, Media and Communications
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