Mother-of-one reaches South Pole on a TRACTOR after chugging along through Europe, Africa and Antarctica wastelands
- Actress Manon Ossevoort, 38, arrived at the South Pole on Tuesday
- Journey initially began in 2005 when she set out from The Netherlands
- But she was forced to abandon tractor after four years of travelling
- Five years later, she reached her ultimate destination
- Now she aims to be home in time for Christmas on tractor return
Dutch actress and adventurer Manon Ossevoort arrived at the South Pole on Tuesday after chugging along on a tractor from Europe through Africa and across the frozen wastes of Antarctica.
The globe-trotting new mother of a 11-month-old baby said the the 16-day, 1,500 mile trip across the largest single mass of ice on earth from Russia’s Novo base to the Pole had been tough.
Driving the huge red Massey Ferguson tractor over the rugged, icy landscape at an average speed of about 6mph an hour was ‘like rodeo riding’.
After 17 gruelling days in Antarctica, ‘Tractor Girl’ Manon Ossevoort has reached the South Pole
‘Tractor Girl’ Manon Ossevoort has reached the South Pole aboard a Massey Ferguson MF 5610 tractor
‘It’s quite emotional, I’m very happy,’ Ossevoort told AFP by satellite telephone shortly after arriving at the Pole and fulfilling a decade-long dream.
‘It feels quite magical really, to have made this happen and arrived here!’
Ossevoort said the worst part of the trip was ‘the day that I was driving for hours and hours and could not go faster than between 0.5 and 3mph’.
‘I really was worried then that the expedition could come to a halt if conditions would get just a little bit worse.’
It will be a race to make it home to the Netherlands for Christmas but the ‘return journey to the base will be faster because the tracks of the tractor will be frozen up and it will be easier to drive.’
Ossevoort began her trip in 2005, taking four years to drive from her home village in the Netherlands to Cape Town at the southern tip of Africa – and then missed the boat that was due to take her to Antarctica for the final leg (it had gotten a new job at the North Pole).
Manon Ossevoort (front) with the Antarctica 2 Expedition team and MF 5610 tractor
The Dutch actress and adventurer arrived after driving the vehicle across the frozen wastes of Antarctica
Frustrated, the former theatre actress spent the next four years back in the Netherlands, writing a book, working as a motivational speaker and desperately trying to get back on a tractor.
With sponsorship from Massey-Ferguson and other companies, she finally made it.
Ossevoort travelled alone through Africa, but in Antarctica the tractor needed to creep forward day and night, so French mechanic Nicolas Bachelet shared the driving.
In total, she was accompanied by a team of seven, including crew who are filming the journey for a documentary.
Asked whether this was the end of her crazy adventures on a tractor, Ossevoort’s infectious laugh bubbled through the crackly satphone: ‘Yes. I think this is the best adventure on a tractor that one can come up with.’
She now plans to write a children’s book and produce the movie of her journey.
The Antarctica 2 expedition culminates Manon’s dream to drive a tractor to the South Pole
After a day’s rest at the South Pole, the Antarctica 2 team will embark on the return journey to Novo Runway on the Antarctic coast.
Asked what she is looking forward to most about getting back to civilisation, she replied: ‘To go back home to my happy ever after and to hug my little daughter.’
Ossevoort’s daughter, Hannah, has been in the care of her partner, airline pilot Roger Nieuwendyk.
Cradling the baby in a tractor shed in Cape Town as Ossevoort made final checks before leaving for Antarctica, he told AFP she had his full support.
‘We’ll be there to meet her at the airport when she comes home,’ he said.
Ossevoort’s tractor is named Antarctica 2 in honour of legendary explorer Sir Edmund Hillary, who travelled to the South Pole on a tractor in 1958.
His vehicle was equipped with full tracks, however, while Ossevoort’s has normal inflatable tyres which have been slightly modified for better grip on the snow and ice.
While fulfilling her own long-held dream, Ossevoort carried with her thousands of ‘dreams’ collected from people in Africa and around the world.
Manon Ossevoort pictured in her tractor at a workshop outside Malmesbury in the South African Western Cape before her epic journey
Scraps of paper and emails have been converted into digital form and will be placed in the belly of a big snowman she will build at the pole — to be opened only in 80 years time.
‘I want to turn them into a beautiful time capsule of the dreams of the world so that in the future children and people can read something about our dreams and not only about politics or war,’ she said.
Fear holds people back from pursuing their dreams, she says, and many believe that ‘putting them into reality is as impossible as driving a tractor to the South Pole’.
‘The tractor for me symbolises this very down to earth fact that if you want to do something, maybe you will not be so fast but if you keep going and keep your sense of humour you will get there.’