Day Eighty-Two (17 March)

Day 82 was the day I formally arrived in Melbourne (but I didn’t do the final crossing of the Yarra into Federation Square until Day 84).

I got to meet the lovely Roseann again and share the road for a couple of hours, which was a delight – but first up I had to wake early and find my way to a meeting spot where the ABC were going to do a morning interview.

Below is my morning update & the interview.

Got my first real piece of hate just now, and it’s a little hard to shake off:

“Lynette Hall — I am sick to death of your ranting & raving about your cancer! I know of people losing their battle with cancer these past few days.. — Be grateful your cancer free & let it go.. Your ego is sickening… — Get a job & get on with your life..supporting your family!

This on the 1 year anniversary, a random comment. I think I’m sharing to help people. To illustrate that a broken life can be fixed, and kindness is the way we do it.

Lynette’s hateful comment has me in the right state of mind for remembering Dandenong and the general ‘bad vibes’ that I felt as I walked through Melbourne.

As you can see in the pictures, garbage strewn across the sidewalks (that said, I did find garbage in pristine gorgeous Aussie bushland too, we really need to stop that).

Until I met up with Roseann (and not counting the ABC crew), it felt like I was surrounded by scowls and suspicious looks.

I still tangibly feel that sometimes, in the world around me.

An absence of hope. Faith. Trust. Dignity. Honesty. A fearfulness, a worry about how we look and what others think. A hesitance to tell the truth, married to an almost-eagerness to attack the actions and motivations of others.

“Lord Save Me”, written on a wall in the park, where I waited for the ABC Interview. I suppose that about sums it up – I’d started my walk through covid, and it felt almost as if I was walking through a mental health epidemic .. perhaps the natural after-effect of all the lockdowns, uncertainty, anxiety.

All I could do then, and all I can do now is just to remind myself “do your best old man”.

And as you can see from the pictures below, even a grim and overcast day can sometimes offer you the joy of a rainbow.

I probably should only be writing this in a ‘rainbow mood’ instead of all storm clouds, but I really need to get the job done 😀

After we stopped, Roseann let me buy her lunch, and we parted ways, sadly I was on my own again. Lunch was a greasy kebab of suspicious origin.

The remainder of the day was a slog through suburban Melbourne, then the inner suburbs.

Thankfully, the TV appearance really helped The Kids’ Cancer Project, they received about thirty thousand in donations across that day, and I also got a few more DAILY DONOR DARES OF DOooOOoM.

One was to photograph an insect (don’t ask me why – the one really preying on my mind was “hug a stranger” .. in country towns I’d have to fight off the hugs, but I wasn’t optimistic of my chances as I made my way into Melbourne).

Thankfully, as I stopped for a little sit down (and if I’m honest, a Maccas soft serve cone – I must have looked more than slightly ridiculous, haha), I spotted a fly crawling around on the ground near my boot.

There’s the little fella. Let’s call him Frankie.

No. Louie.

As I trudged the remaining kilometres, the final ones of Captain Australia’s BIG WALK, my mind was turned inward. I was reflective, almost solemn.

For most of the last weeks of the walk, I’d been pretty buoyant. I struggled physically, I missed my loved ones, but I also felt that my Quest was succeeding, I could feel the magic working itself on me.

The magic of Hope.

Those final days though, there was this background sense of .. almost panic, a gnawing sense that I was running out of time, and hadn’t yet done the big amazing thing I was supposed to do.

Donations weren’t high enough.

My health was better, but not good enough.

I’d helped some people see a better life, helped spread a little hope, but I’d also missed too many opportunities.

I’d processed grief, I’d learned acceptance. I was getting stronger. Better.

But those final days were a bit of a test, I was worried that everything I’d learned, all my progress, might be fleeting, like a house built on sand.

But life isn’t a book that you read, and then it’s over.

It’s a constant work in progress.

I think we are at our best when we regularly re-evaluate our goals, challenge them, make sure they’re pure. Make sure we keep walking a pathway to Virtue.

I just need to keep reminding myself of that lesson, in these extra days that are given to me.

(please don’t tell my wife about the little kiss pictured to the left)

Although I guess it shows that even when I was inward, reflective and sombre, I’m still up for a bit of a giggle or to look like a fool.

Sense of humour is probably one of the greatest gifts we can be given, I reckon.

Below is a video where I talk a bit about what I learned during the walk, showing you how reflective I was feeling.

I felt elation at seeing the Melbourne skyline, but it was late afternoon and still maybe 10-15 kilometres away .. as evening set in, all I really felt was tired.

I was a bit fretful about finding a safe place to sleep, but got a call from this lovely man, a kind of entrepreneur, financier bigwig type who lives in Sydney. Truly lovely bloke, and he’d been following the walk since the harbour bridge, and offered to put me up in a hotel, not just that night, but the following as well.

I’m deeply, deeply grateful for that – I wish I could name him but he prefers his privacy.

Thanks to this tremendous kindness, I’d sleep safely (at the Novatel South Wharf) and have a base for the following day, a day of reflection, of rest before formally completing the walk on Saturday.

I have to remember kindnesses like that, hold them to my heart, and remind myself that kindness is like a tree we nurture together. My walk may have been the seed, but this nice man fertilised the tree .. and it did, from time to time yield unexpected fruit.

I think that’s how I need to frame the faith in this later part of my life – that we can heal this broken, confusing world, if we make kindness and love the underlying reason for .. everything.

It was full dark by the time I made it to the hotel, and I was pretty wiped out.

The staff who greeted me were LOVELY. They had been told who I was and what I had done (and why), and they were a mix of .. friendly, intrigued, welcoming.

A warm, lovely end to a mixed-bag day.

And this bloke, my kind benefactor, had bought food ! I was told he’d organised a $100 budget to see me fed, and I needed to spend it all as it couldnt be refunded 😀

So I focused the will, the strength and resolve that I’d developed in the walk and set to it.

As you can see from the photos below, there’s cheese platters, salmon, fruit platter, a cocktail.

My capacity for food has declined significantly, and my broken thyroid often had me in an energy deficit. But I tell you, by the time I finished that meal I was ‘full as a goog’

(My grandpa used to say that).