Day 6 (31 December)

So I woke up at dawn on New Years Eve, after maybe 5 hours sleep. The sunrise was beautiful, so I felt that weird combination of elated fatigue.

After leaving Health, Lisa and Stranger (can’t remember his name) the night before, and correcting from my wrong turn, I had come in late, and set up under a low tree with strong limbs and good growth shielding the elements.

As I wandered out of the dunes, I muddled with my headphones and took a video trying to explain what I was experiencing. You can watch it to the left.

Daily toil, waking to natural beauty, this cycle of days was continuing to start it’s work on me. That strange alchemy of healing. Mix hope with hard toil and being of service, and the result is this slow, steady progressing toward strength and healing.

I followed the beach for about ten kilometres, boots tethered around my neck, toes enjoying the ocean. For me, the sunrays through the stormy clouds of a morning was .. magical. It was waking a similar type of magic inside me. I was starting, slowly and tentatively, to get better.

After a while, the sand became too light – there’s a special stretch of hard-packed sand that’s like walking along concrete, nice and firm – but at certain times of the day and points in the tide, it’s just all soft and annoying to walk on (especially with a heavy pack)

So I turned inland and started following a long, lonely beach road, one of many that were to come. A local would occasionally drive past, but I didn’t get stopped much, and none of the offers of smiles, water or friendship that came later as people became more aware of my Quest.

My plan was to get to a small town called Golden Beach and have a bit of a rest there. I never tried to plan too far ahead – I wanted to hold to the spirit of Adventure.

According to Google Maps, a small town called Wooyung was coming up, and I thought there would be a caravan park and maybe some kind of shop, so I was hoping to buy some fruit or something and taking a nice little rest. It didn’t turn out that way, Wooyung was just a little corner in the road, and I reached a point where I wasn’t exactly sure how to continue – the road Google wanted me to take up and died, and had a sign “no trespassing!” in front of a very old gate.

Not long into the walk down the narrow dirt path, I met the lovely Cass and Buddy, who had been out for their morning swim & walk. We had a lovely, friendly encounter (like so many to come!), and then the old boofhead kept moving.

The path was heavily overgrown in places and half flooded in others, but it was a lovely 2-3 hour hike, eventually bringing me to a nice little town called Golden Beach.

It was here that I met Peter.

The bush track opened to an actual road, which led me to a beach-side rest area, with amenities. At this point, I hadn’t experienced running out of water, so was only really carrying 2 litres with me, and I’d run out, so the timing was good.

I was torn between continuing down the beach (slow going and harder work with the soft sand), or a road trek.

Byron Bay was still 25km away, but Brunswick Heads was an obstacle between me and there, which made a continuous beach walk impossible.

I lingered here at Golden Beach for about an hour.

I made two new friends at this lovely, restful place, one whose name I never learned. The other was this chap Peter, who was living out of his van, and had gotten stuck in northern NSW with lockdowns, and wanted to get back to see his mother – who was unwell. His plan was to drive up to Tweed Heads and push into Brisbane, but was worried about getting around once there. His plan was to rely on public transport, but was light on cash and didn’t know how the system worked.

Joyfully, I pulled out my GO-CARD (bus/train/ferry, prepaid had about $35 on it), which I gave to him, delighted by the chance to do a good deed. I sure wasn’t going to need the bloody thing for a while 🙂 I hope he got up there, saw his Mum, and that life is going well.

This is Peter, and to the left my lovely friend (we played FETCH for a good half hour, I reckon, loved it)

This is the other mate i made that morning. I never got to know her name, but I treasure the time we shared. With her energy and generosity of spirit, she lifted me out of a bit of a funk (not the funky funky kind, a blue mood from missing my wife and kids something fierce).

I hope she is happy and healthy, and wish her every joy in life. I have a thing of naming animals if I can’t learn their name, so I’ll call her “SANDY”.

Time to get going again ! So on came the mighty boots (now in possession of a young man, Grover Darren, who bought them by auction after the walk for $123, with the money going into the donation tally achieved for The Kids’ Cancer Project).

Weather was still spotty, a lot of on-again-off-again rain, but I endured it pretty well. By the end of the BIG WALK, I was pretty stoic about rain – it’s all about the Coota Coat, I suppose – it felt like wearing love and kindness.

These days, however, I really felt it – and there was a bit of an El Nina weather event – fueled by an offshore cyclone, that was about to test me pretty heavily in the coming days.

But even when struggling, I felt basically OK, even when in physical or emotional pain, I felt that underlying tug of healing.

So I had to pass through a town called OCEAN SHORES, and it was by far one of the toughest hills I had to deal with during the walk. Not that it was really bad in terms of length and incline – but I just hadn’t toughened up yet, so pressing up this long winding suburban hill was phenomenally hard. The picture just doesn’t capture how steep it was.

When I got to the top, I actually had a little old-man lie-down, and this lovely tradie pulls up in his big truck and asks “Are you okay, mate ?”

Bless him. I explained what I was doing and he seemed a bit amazed.

I think a lot of people who saw me plodding down the road (especially in driving rain) didn’t know about my Quest, and just thought I was crazy. (Haha, perhaps correctly). Some thought (and explained to me when they approached) that I was an “old school swagman”, like the fella from ‘Waltzing Matilda.’

If you’re not from Australia – that’s a song, check the video to the right, it’s old as the hills and really .. you can’t hear it and not feel somehow like you need to go sheer a sheep or something.

Rain hit hard after Ocean Shores, it was pouring as I rolled into Brunswick Heads. I tried streaming a couple of times, as I had a “Do ‘Singing in the Rain'” dare .. tapdancing and singing, I guess .. but the streams kept failing after a few seconds. Phone had suffered damage, but I think I just hadn’t properly learned yet what signal strengths worked and what ones were no good.

Brunswick Heads was utterly beautiful, but I wasn’t really in the mood. There was a kind of NYE energy about the place – a lot of young men drinking at various venues would yell boisterously as I walked past, but I shrugged them off, if not outright ignored them. Ignored and ignorant – pretty close words, and yeah, I regret those times when I was so dog-tired or sad and didn’t give people my time, or gave less of myself than I could. Here are some views I took once I got out to the beach again (haha, I was crying most of the time while taking these photos, embarassed to say).

The storm that hit as I moved on down the beach was an outward reflection of my inner mood. I tried to explain what I was feeling, I guess for two reasons.

I wanted my children to know how much I loved and missed them, and the sacrifice I was making to try and get better.

I also wanted to show the people watching that it’s OK to suffer, to weep, it’s not weak to show weakness.

For the most part, I was depleted. Physically tired from a day of toil in what I thought at the time was “bad weather” but learned later I didnt even know the meaning of the term. I was plodding toward Byron Bay, planning to get caught up in New Years Eve festivities there, maybe drum up some support, but I couldn’t face up to it. I turned dune-ward, made my way through some high dunes and long grass, found a viable tree, and put the hammock up. I think I was asleep when dark hit at about 7:30pm.

I found this video much later – I had no service when rough camped, so I recorded a video wishing everybody well for the upcoming New Year.