The Australian National Maritime Museum is hosting an evening with some of Australia's most extreme ocean adventurers on Thursday 5 September that will inspire and challenge young and old with their tales of bravery, tenacity, and extreme resilience.


Come and be astounded by the first woman to sail around the world Kay Cottee; cross the Mediterranean Sea with world record water-skier Alex Luther; and be inspired by Michelle Lee, the first Australian woman to have rowed solo across the Atlantic Ocean – as they share their greatest feats and darkest moments. 

Extreme Modern Day Journeys is on for one night only on Thursday 5 September, 6 – 8:30pm as part of the Maritime Museum's special Ocean Talk series. 

Kay Cottee AO will share stories from her record-breaking circumnavigation of the world in 1988 as the first woman to sail solo, non-stop and unassisted around the world in 189 days. 

Inspired by his late grandfather Harry Luther, Alex Luther water-skied almost 3,700 kilometres from Africa to Italy in under 10 days to break his grandfather's world record.

Michelle Lee is the current world record holder for the one million metre row and is the first Australian woman to have rowed solo across the Atlantic Ocean in the Tailsker Whisky Atlantic Challenge covering more than 5,000km. Lee will delve into the highs and lows she experienced during her 68-day voyage.

Media commentator, journalist, author and sailing royalty Rob Mundle will offer a comparison to extreme journeys of yesteryear, exploring the open boat voyage William Bligh and 18 loyalists endured after being cast from HMS Bounty, navigating 6.500 kilometres of treacherous seas to successfully arrive at Coupang on the island of Timor.

This discussion will be hosted by the Maritime Museum's Senior Curator Daina Fletcher. 

The night will focus around what makes these extreme individuals tick, and dive into the highs and lows of chasing the pinnacle of physical and mental human performance. 

"I want women to look at what I'm doing and think, 'if she can, I can.' I'm just an average Joe Blow girl that doesn't do anything special – I'm not an Olympian. It all comes down to the drive, the want..." comments Michelle Lee. 

When asked why she is drawn to extreme challenges, Michelle commented "I think personally we're bored. I just think we're bored of the mundane Monday to Friday, nine to five certainty … and I was bored out of my brains with that. There's just something that wants you to burst out, like a caged tiger." 

• What makes a 33 year-old Australian woman sail alone and unassisted around the globe for 189 days, and in the process inspiring generations of female sailors to chase their dreams? 
• What physical pain does water-skiing for 10 days from Africa to Italy inflict on your body?
• What demons chase you when you're in a tiny rowboat, in the middle of the night, alone in the Atlantic Ocean, one month in? And how do you summon the strength to keep going? 
• What drives people to break world records and chase extreme feats? 
• How do modern day adventurers compare with the great explorers of yesteryear?

These questions and many more will be answered when four modern day adventurers hit the stage at the Maritime Museum for one unforgettable night. 

Thursday 5 September 6 – 8:30pm 
Adults $35 / Members $20 

Note: Ticket includes light refreshments and the opportunity from 5 – 6pm to view the Museum's current major exhibition Bligh - Hero or Villain?, as well as an 80th anniversary exhibit on Oskar Speck's 7-year journey from Nazi Germany to Australia – history's longest kayak journey. 
Read our fascinating interview with Michelle Lee HERE.

– ENDS –

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Notes to the editor: 

Ocean Talk Speakers – 

On 29 November 1987, Kay Cottee set off from Sydney Harbour on her attempt to sail around the world. Her yacht had been renamed Blackmore's First Lady for the natural health brand that sponsored her. As well as aiming to be the first woman to achieve this feat, she hoped to raise money for Ted Noff's Life Education Program.

Over the next 189 days Kay experienced the incredible beauty, discomfort and terror of solo sailing in the Southern Ocean. Her yacht was knocked down several times, including once off the southern coast of Africa in 100-knot winds and 20-metre seas. Washed overboard, she was saved by two safety lines. 

On 5 June 1988, Kay Cottee was greeted by more than 100,000 well-wishers as she sailed into Sydney Harbour. She had sailed 22,100 nautical miles at an average speed of 117 nautical miles per day (the fastest by a woman) and set seven world records. Kay was named the 1988 Australian of the Year and made an Officer of the Order of Australia.

Rob Mundle OAM: Australia's "voice of sailing". Rob is an international best-selling author, competitive sailor, media commentator/journalist and community leader.
Rob's most successful title is Fatal Storm, the story of the tragic 1998 Sydney-Hobart yachts. His maritime history title Bligh: Master Mariner, about the captain's legendary open-boat voyage from Tonga to Timor is the story that's closest to his heart.

For the past 10 years Rob been Media Manager for the Sydney-to-Hobart's most successful yacht in history, the 30-metre supermaxi Wild Oats XI, and has reported on seven America's Cup matches (including the 8-hour live international television coverage of Australia's historic victory in 1983), four Olympic Games and numerous other major events.

Michelle Lee is the current world record holder for the one-million-meter row and has an impressive history of athletic achievements. She has completed a nine-day trek covering 160km to the peak of the Annapurna Circuit through the Himalayas, and trekked the 96km Kokoda Trail in five days. And for fun, she completes mini triathlons, long distance ocean swims, parasailing and white water rafting, and her weekly 40-60km cycling and 14-18 km runs. She claims she is the quintessential ordinary woman attempting to do the extraordinary – and was Australia's first female to row solo across the Atlantic Ocean in the Talisker Whisky Atlantic Challenge. In 2018, she faced her biggest challenge fueled by passion, reinforced with determination and integrity to Row the Atlantic Ocean. Michelle loves to share her story and inspire others.

Alex Luther: Chasing Canguro is a journey about adventure and recreating a family legacy. In June 2018, after 7 years' preparation, Alex water-skied 3,699km in 10 days, 2 hours and 17 minutes, beating his grandfather's world record set in 1970.

Daina Fletcher is senior curator at the Australian National Maritime Museum. She has a diverse background developing and interpreting collections, with past curatorial oversight of areas including immigration, environment, industry, Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander experience and sport, leisure, travel and tourism.

Daina is past president of the Australian Maritime Museums Council and founding member of National Council of the Australian Register of Historic Vessels which she established. She has collaborated on many programs about community and national histories including the Australian Sailing Hall of Fame with Australian Sailing, public art pieces for the museum site, touring exhibitions, and the museum's recent groundbreaking exhibition On Sharks & Humanity which focused on art and activism with Parkview Arts Action, China.