Day Fifty (13 February)

I started Day 50 well rested, with a light patter of rain waking me. Yesterdays’ hangover was completely gone, I felt well-rested and strong.

My biggest concern was an issue with my charging cables, they seemed to have stopped working, but I figured I’d find a service station somewhere and get replacements.

The day lay ahead, warm and inviting.

I was camped in the middle of dense, pristine forest. I had to keep my eyes open for hazards, but the rewards of waking up to that utterly clean smell, that sense of alive-ness, like baking bread – was more than worth it.

Almost as if it was a symphony I was conducting, the rain stopped at exactly the time I was ready to clamber out of the hammock and get going.

Pausing to relieve myself (they never mention that stuff in stories, eh?), I then gathered my equipment, stowed everything away in my massive pack (I was now quite the expert), hoisted it onto my shoulders and clambered out toward the road.

By the end of that day, a new group of friends would try and lift that pack and guess it’s weight (most were shocked and guessed around that 40kg mark .. but they were all way off).

We can see our burdens as making our life harder, or lean into it and actualise them as tools to get stronger.

And my pack certainly was making me stronger !

My plan was to make it to Bateman’s Bay (about 44km away)

The first part of the morning was solitary, just me and the highway. There weren’t even really that many cars and trucks, so it was a morning of birdsong, breaking clouds, sunshine reaching through like a warm kiss.

I’d gotten a message from Einstein to make for the East Lynne Roadhouse, as he had some friends from Bateman’s Bay he was trying to convince to meet me there.

(Little did I know how great, surreal, wonderful and nourishing that visit was going to turn out to be).

All along the south coast, people were embracing the walk, looking past the strangeness of it – responding to those themes of kindness and overcoming sorrow.

That morning, I was startled from my thoughts as a police cruiser drove past and suddenly flicked on their lights and siren.

Uh oh !

There am I, eyes wide, all guilty-looking, mind ticking over all the things I’d done wrong recently (camping in random bush being the main thing, although I always left it as I found it)


Haha, I think throughout the rest of the morning I had this big goofy smile pasted onto my face after that, it was such a surreal and great little moment.

Mid-morning, this wonderful man Mick Tait met up with me. He’s a photographer, living up somewhere around Nowra, and had been pretty eager to meet up.

I think he ended up driving a good hour or so to catch up to me, but what a delight it was, having him hiding in bushes, taking these wonderful wide angle photos throughout the day. They are pretty much the best photos taken during the walk.

He’s such a talented photographer, and I’m so grateful for the pictures.

I love how his wide shots give you a sense of scope of the walk, much more so than my claustrophobic little selfies where you can only see part of my head.

So that morning I sorted out my cable problem at a servo (lovely man was extremely helpful), had a bite of brekky with Mick, and otherwise walking, walking walking and a little more walking.

I did have some wonderful encounters across the morning, like this top bloke Joe, who invited me to stay with him and his wife.

I met this lady driving up to Sydney to visit a family member dying of cancer, and this young bloke (just 18) who was signing up to the military.

(I respected him, blessed him, but also tried to talk him out of it).

Please don’t think that means I disrespect our military personnel.

I love the courage and sacrifice of the soldier, but hate war and despise some of the acts perpetrated by armies. It’s a complicated thing.

To me, the military is the government’s sword (at best an implement sadly necessary for self defense).

Everywhere I walked people would tell me that we can’t trust our government (especially once I got into Victoria!), so for me I guess it boils down to: should they really be handling sharp objects ??

When I made it to East Lynne, I had a reception waiting, and it really was a high point of the entire walk.

I saw the roadhouse ahead and thought “aahhh, drink and rest”, but it wasn’t until I got closer that I saw the crowd of people waiting.

Locals, staff, bikies, travellers – and as I toddled in, like the worlds’ biggest oldest super-hero dressed kid ….

They were cheering and applauding.

I’ll remember that moment for the rest of my life.

It was so surreal, but also a tremendous gift. This kind of validation was helping to teach me that I was viable, I had worth, I could do good in the world if I tried.

It was helping me learn to fall in love with myself.

I met some wonderful people at the roadhouse and had some long and important conversations. (the videos catch a lot of it)

I was especially touched by Einstein’s friends (now mine, too), Andy and Mez.

Mez was fighting cancer, and her levels of hope and energy were so low. I love that our talk lifted her out of a funk, and in coming days she was happier, exercising more.

It’s like that Hope/Despair experiment where swimming rats would drown in only 15 minutes with no hope of rescue, but when given hope of survival they’d last up to 60 hours.

I’m not saying Mez is a rat !

But I do love how, when we give each other a little bit of hope, it can have profoundly meaningful consequences.

The fact that Mez started to rally – that idea of helping even one person – it made all my previous suffering feel more worthwhile.

After the roadhouse, it was about 3:30pm and despite my bleeding feet (new boots), blisters and chafing, I felt hope stirring in myself too.

I was behind schedule, but I decided I wanted to ‘show you something’ (the power of hope maybe), I decided I’d make Batemans Bay before dark.

22km in about 4 hours. Heavy pack. On the road 50 days.

I did it, too.

Even with stops and g’days, I did it.

I know 5km or so per hour probably doesn’t sound like much, but after the mornings walk, and all the days prior, with my heavy bag and painful boots – I think it was a mammoth effort 🙂

I don’t think I was trying to impress you though (and people kept telling me to stop it, I was being stupid).

I was trying to impress myself.

I’m sorry these videos are so dark, but I had a lovely time in the bayside park once I got to town.

Chatting, resting, singing, listening to music, it was such a joy to hang out with the fellas. (Einstein, Andy, Billy and a young bloke we met there whose name I can’t remember)

We hung out there for about an hour.

I found them all trying my pack to be quite bemusing and funny. “Oh JEEZ !! At least forty kilos!”

It had me starting to wonder if I was getting REALLY stronger (and I was, just not to that extreme degree – turns out I was right all along, it was about 25kg)

So the Golden Fart ended up being awarded to Captain Australia 🙂

As fun as it was to hang out, I needed to rest and heal.

I flubbed the invitation with Joe, and wound up being offered a room at a local motel (Araluen Lodge), so after a quick stop-off at COLES for supplies, I headed there.

Assessing the damage, it wasn’t good – inner thighs were a bit shredded – blood and chafing, and there was a popped blister on the heel of my right foot.

As bad as that sounds, it pretty much cleared up overnight – lather on some ointments, unguents and whatnot, keep it aired, and all my old-man wobbly bits were healed up good, come the morning.

I think most of that evening I just lay in bed trying to stay up to date with all the comments and words of support (I prefer to try and answer every one if I possibly can)

I think I lay there until midnight, mucking around with the phone, until the jaw cracking yawns became too much and I was out like a light.

So .. another night of hospitality, nourishing rest, and on Day 51 the walk continued. (That’s the day I met Uncle Phil, an utter legend)