A geography teacher and adventurer Fearghal O’Nuallain is on an expedition that is allowing thousands of children to explore the vast Jordanian desert and learn about water conservation, thanks to a unique Land Rover Discovery expedition.
The specially prepared Discovery family SUV has been supporting the recipients of the 2017 Land Rover Bursary, administered by the Royal Geographical Society (with IBG). The ‘Water Diaries’ expedition is currently busy crossing one of the driest countries on the planet to investigate how the population manages its precious water.
The three-man team, led by geography teacher Fearghal O’Nuallain, was waved off on its month-long journey by year 11 pupils from St Peter’s Catholic School, Solihull, England. The pupils have been following O’Nuallain’s regular online broadcasts to support their geography studies and thousands of others across the UK and Ireland were able to join in.
Team leader Fearghal O’Nuallain said: “The Discovery is going to be critical to the success of our trip. It will take us across the vast sand dunes and rocky terrain of Jordan while carrying everything we need. Beyond simple transport, the specially enhanced SUV will also be our accommodation, laboratory, classroom and broadcast studio for four weeks.”
The Discovery is also home to field scientist Dr Shane McGuinness and documentary film-maker Temujin Doran, who made weekly online broadcasts about the trip, via their website http://www.thewaterdiaries.com/, to budding geographers. To guarantee the team’s lessons went ahead each week, Jaguar Land Rover’s Special Vehicle Operations (SVO) division prepared the unique Discovery.
An expedition roof rack carries the team’s kit and a pair of awnings provides shelter from the elements for the regular broadcasts, while off-road lighting illuminates the challenging terrain after dark. A split battery charging system and power inverter drives the team’s electrical kit while a load space partition ensures that luggage remains safely in place over rough terrain. Additional fuel and water supplies have been added to help the expedition go further.
Mark Cameron, Jaguar Land Rover Experiential Marketing Director, said: “Our partnership with the Royal Geographical Society (with IBG) is important to us as part of our commitment to contribute to research, education and fieldwork expeditions.
During the month-long expedition, the team has been studying how Bedouin tribes locate and transport water in the Wadi Rum region. They spent four days living alongside nomads, stopping at a flourishing farm that uses ancient and modern techniques to provide almost all the food consumed in one of the driest places on earth, and they met with experts working to save Arabian Oryx from extinction.
No trip to Jordan would be complete without visiting the city of Petra. Here the team met archaeologists working at the World Heritage Site. From this ancient civilisation, the Discovery is taking the team to investigate an advanced infrastructure project that could bring water security to the entire region – a desalination plant in the Gulf of Aqaba and a pipeline linking the Red Sea with the Dead Sea.
The RGS-IBG Land Rover Bursary is now in its 10th year and 2017 is the first time the Discovery has been used to support the winners. The ultimate family SUV is contending with Jordan’s rugged landscape and the three-man crew have received expert all-terrain driving tuition to fully prepare them.