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Full circle: A path to where you wish to be.

Meet Tim Cope, an adventurer, author, and filmmaker hailing from Drouin South.

Feb 10, 2023

Words: Gippslandia & Tim Cope

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To be invited to become a member of the Long Riders Guild, the most basic qualification you’re required to complete is an equestrian journey of at least 1,600km – a heck of a long time in the saddle. Tim Cope’s most renowned journey was a three-year, 10,000km horseback trek from Mongolia to Hungary, across the great Eurasian Steppe, with his best friend Tigon.

Hailing from Drouin South, Tim, an adventurer, author and film-maker, has ridden across Russia to China, rowed a boat along the Yenisey River through Siberia to the Arctic Ocean, created several documentary films, and penned acclaimed books.

Growing up in Gippsland

Some of my earliest memories are heading out on an adventure in Gippsland with Mum and Dad, and my brothers and sister. That feeling of wonder in nature, navigating between writing the script of one's life but being at the whims of destiny, is something that has never quite left me.

My father Andrew was an outdoor educator who set up the Bachelor of Sport and Outdoor Recreation at Monash Gippsland (now Federation University Gippsland), and his love for experiential education certainly influenced my path.

Credit: The Cope Family
Credit: The Cope Family

Credit: The Cope Family
Credit: The Cope Family

Recently Tim, a Fellow of the Royal Geographical Society and Australian Adventurer of the Year, has been leading unique and informative adventures across Australia, especially deep into remote East Gippsland, as well as returning to his beloved Mongolia.

Somehow, between managing the build of his Mount Beauty home and guiding an 11-day hike, horse ride and paddle along the Snowy River, the newly married Tim found the time to prepare the accompanying photographic retrospective of his adventures: from Gippsland to the Eurasian Steppe and back again. It’s a heck of a journey.

Mongolia to Hungary by Horse (2004–2007).

In 2004, I set off with a dream to travel by horse in the hoofsteps of the Mongols, who under Genghis Khan created the largest contiguous land empire in history. It turned into a three-and-a-half year odyssey through Mongolia, Kazakhstan, Russia and Ukraine to the Danube. Along the way I met a little guy who changed my life: my Kazakh dog, Tigon.

Credit: Tim Cope
Credit: Tim Cope

The Adventure of Writing (2008-2012).

Three-and-a-half years on horseback became four years of writing and researching back here in Victoria, mostly in Gippsland and north-east Victoria. The result, in 2013, was On the Trail of Genghis Khan, an achievement I was very proud of.

(Apart from the adventure of writing folder, also find a photo of me in Tarra Bulga that was taken during my book writing period)

Credit: Tim Cope
Credit: Tim Cope

Guiding in Mongolia (2008–2019).

In 2008 I returned to Mongolia to guide my first trek, and for the next 12 years guided treks every northern hemisphere summer to Mongolia’s remote Altai Mountains. It was the culture, the people and their connection to the landscape that continued to draw me back year after year.

Credit: Tim Cope, Cameron Cope, Alan Kirk
Credit: Tim Cope, Cameron Cope, Alan Kirk

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Russia to China by Bicycle (1999–2000).

I deferred my law degree at 18 to travel to Europe and discovered a full-blown love for travel and combined it with my writing. I ended up studying as a wilderness guide in Finland before taking off with a mate, Chris Hatherly, by recumbent bicycle across Russia, Mongolia and China. Our budget was $2 a day. It resulted in a lifelong passion for that region of the world, an enduring friendship, and my first book and film.

Credit: Cameron Cope
Credit: Cameron Cope

Gippsland Exploring (2019–2022).

With Covid shutting down international travel, I turned my attention back to my backyard in Gippsland, something I had always wanted to do. In 2021, I was able to travel down a section of the Snowy River with my two brothers, Jonathan and Cameron. Later that year, I ran my first of several trips in East Gippsland.

Credit: Tim Cope
Credit: Tim Cope

A Gippsland Proposal (2021).

Fresh from a Snowy River journey, I took my girlfriend Amrita up to Mount Erica for a walk in Baw Baw National Park – one of the places I first remember going on adventures as a kid with my dad. What better place to propose – and to hear her say yes!

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