Tim Cope is an internationally award-winning Australian author, adventurer and filmmaker, best known for his iconic three year, 10,000km journey by horse on the trail of nomads made famous by Genghis Khan.
Driven by a desire to use adventure as a tool to delve beneath the fabric of society, and in turn understand more about one’s own life and community, Tim’s accolades include winning the Australian Geographic Australian Adventurer of the Year at age 26 — one of the youngest recipients in the award’s history — becoming the first Australian to win the Grand Prize at the 2013 Banff International Mountain Book Festival, for On The Trail of Genghis Khan: An Epic Journey Through the Land of the Nomads, and the receiving of a raft of international prizes for his documentary films which include Off the Rails, The Yenisey Expedition, and the popular TV series The Trail of Genghis Khan which was commissioned by the national broadcaster ZDF in Germany and ABC TV Australia.
Now in his mid-thirties, Tim became known as an adventurer with a unique people-focused approach early in his career. Described by National Geographic USA as a ‘cultural ambassador’, in the midst of his 10,000km journey by bicycle across Russia and Siberia to China, and a world river descent, rowing 5,000km down the Yenisey River in Siberia to the Arctic Ocean, he learned to focus less on what the challenges spelled for his own well-being and more on the insight they provided into the lives of the people with whom he formed connections along the way. Both these early journeys were turned into books and films for international broadcast. Tim travelled for three-and-a-half years by horse from Mongolia to Hungary in what Australian Geographic billed ‘one of the greatest journeys of modern times’. During what can only be described as an epic, Tim, his three horses and now famous Kazakh dog Tigon, endured difficulties ranging from horse thievery and wolves on the Mongolian steppe, to temperature swings of more than 100 degrees in the Kazakh desert, and at one stage an impasse when he became marooned for more than three months in an abandoned Soviet mining town. The challenges, which taught him the virtues of patience, and resolve (as the Kazakhs say, ‘if you must rush, rush slowly’), were not only of a physical kind: as a young Australian, he had to learn to tread a delicate line between cultures that sometimes shared a mutual sense of hostility and mistrust, such as during his time among the conflicting Tatars and Russians of Crimea. Then, less than 1000km from the finish, Tim confronted death itself when his father was tragically killed in a car accident back in Australia. In the end though, the journey for Tim became defined by much more than the challenges. As he forged a close bond with his animals and became the recipient of generosity, openness, and support from hundreds of family homes along the way, he came to intimately understand the fate of the nomadic people of the steppes. Through this, he learnt how to appeal to the better side of human beings and extend himself at times of uncertainty and vulnerability, and view the world through the eyes of others. Since returning to Australia, Tim has received plaudits as an inspirational storyteller who goes out of his way to discover people, lands, cultures, and history, and then make it all powerfully relevant to an audience. He particularly focuses on exploring issues such as valuing the importance of family, overcoming adversity, acting outside of one’s comfort zone, looking outwards, and the developing of empathy, resilience, determination and integrity. As a speaker, Tim Cope is known for his warmth, passion, and personal approach and the occasional appearance of his canine travelling companion, Tigon. Weaving in the arts of film and photography to his presentations to powerful effect, he has excelled in a range of formats from keynotes at educational and business conferences, to on-theme motivational talks, school visits, high-production value TEDx-style events, chaired ‘conversations’, and for audiences young and old, small and large.