After driving a tractor from Europe through Africa, and across the frozen tundra of Antarctica, Manon “Tractor Girl” Ossevoort has completed her decade-long dream of driving a tractor all the way to the South Pole. And just in time to be back home in Holland for Christmas.
“It’s quite emotional, I’m very happy,” Ossevoort told AFP by satellite telephone shortly after reaching the Pole on Tuesday.
Ossevoort, a 38-year-old former theater actress, spent around 12 hours a day in the seat of her huge red Massey Ferguson MF 5610 tractor, as she traveled 4,500-kilometers, or 2,900 miles, round trip across the largest single mass of ice on earth. Or as what she likes to call the “end of the world.” The 16-day trip started at Russia’s Novo base on the edge of Antarctica.
“It feels quite magical really, to have made this happen and arrived here,” she said, explaining that the worst part of the feat was “the day that I was driving for hours and hours and couldn’t go faster than between 0.5 and five kilometres per hour.”
She added, “I really was worried then that the expedition could come to a halt if conditions would get just a little bit worse.”
Nine years ago in 2005, Ossevoort, who is now a mother to a 10-month-old baby, began her trip. She drove a tractor from her home village in Holland to Cape Town, at the southern edge of Africa, where she then missed the boat that was due to take her to Antarctica to conclude the trip. The next four years were spent in frustration: writing, working, and most importantly, desperately trying to get back on a tractor to accomplish her initial goal.
Today, with sponsorship from Massey-Ferguson and other companies, Ossevoort has finally fulfilled her long-held dream.
Originally, Ossevoort had traveled alone through Africa. But this time, French mechanic Nicolas Bachelet joined her, as the tractor needed to move forward day and night in order to make efficient progress. An additional six others joined them, including a crew who filmed the entire journey for a documentary. Ossevoort also plans to write a children’s book about the journey.
“I think this is the best adventure on a tractor that one can come up with,” she declared.