Michael Willem had plenty of inquisitive people ask why he was towing a bathtub when he stopped in Wonthaggi last Wednesday. mm051918

RIDING 20,000km across Australia with a bathtub is no easy task, but with a swag and help from some people in Wonthaggi, Michael Willem is on his way.
As a novelty approach, he’s towing a tub to help raise funds for beyondblue and increase awareness around mental illnesses.
Michael started his ride in Fish Creek in April and stopped over in Wonthaggi last week after he got a puncture in a tyre.
“I got to Crossover Cycles just as it was closing and they had them ready for me this morning,” he said on Wednesday.
It’s a worthy cause that’s seen him receive plenty of attention from locals as he rides through towns.
After his puncture, a Wonthaggi man offered to put him up for the night.
Michael’s mission to increase awareness around mental illnesses comes from the heart – after he went through a rollercoaster of emotions after relationships.
“I suffered from depression and went through a pretty bad divorce and nearly went bankrupt,” he said.
“When I got my life back together about four years ago I decided I wanted to do something really incredible and it was a no-brainer to who I would support.
“As beyondblue said, it’s more about the awareness than the money. It’s a problem that people don’t talk about depression when they have it.”
He’s aiming to ride 100km a day, already visiting scenic parts of South Gippsland, including Wilsons Promontory.
“The tub weighs about 35kg, but it’s also been great storage,” he says, as socks dry on the end of the tub.
So why a bathtub?
“I got the idea of a bathtub from when I read about Bear Grylls rowing naked in a bathtub and I just thought, ‘What can I do with one?’
“I wanted something that was memorable and with a little bit of a fundraising novelty.”
He’s also got a swag attached to the top of the bathtub so he can pull over in a quiet area and catch some shut eye before going onto the next stage of his journey.
“I wanted to keep myself off the ground so with the swag on the tub, it keeps the critters out.”
He plans to ride to the capital cities – bar Hobart – to help spread the word around mental illnesses.
“I started at the bottom of Australia and I’m finishing at the top, while visiting the most eastern and western points as well.”
He has more than 20,000 followers on Facebook and has received plenty of messages of support, including from people who say he’s inspired them.
“Those sorts of things make the ride worth doing,” he said.
Towards the end of last week, Michael rode to Phillip Island to catch the ferry. He hopes to complete the ride by early November, subject to weather conditions.
You can follow his journey on Facebook and Instagram at @iammichaelwillem.
He’s raised more than $2000 for beyondblue. To donate, go to www.give.everydayhero.com/au/onmywayup