Dutch actress and adventurer Manon “Tractor Girl” 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.
“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.
The ebullient new mother of a 10-month-old baby said the 16-day, 2,500 kilometre 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 10 kilometres an hour was “like rodeo riding”.
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 five kilometres per hour.”
Now she has to do the return trip. It will be a race to make it home to the Netherlands for Christmas.
She travelled alone through Africa, but in Antarctica the tractor needed to creep ahead day and night, so French mechanic Nicolas Bachelet shared the driving.
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. But she missed the boat to Antarctica that time.
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.