Day Fifty One (14 February)

Day 51 is one of those ‘remember forever’ days.

The day itself was just a lovely warm/hot walk through some pretty bush country, but it was another day where I had the pleasure and privilege of meeting people on the road that were just filling my spirit.

They were somehow sharing in their light and kindness, and that was filling and elevating me.

And the unexpected surprise at Mogo School ? Joy. (But I’ll get to that).

First up – it was Valentines Day.

I woke to an interview with the lovely people from BEGA Power FM (more on them later), and after that gave a bit of an update, where I remembered it was our national day of romance.

In lieu of flowers and chocolates, I did a dedication to my wonderful wife, and sang her a song 🙂

I’d slept in comfort and safety thanks to the kind owners/staff at the Araluen Motor Lodge, but as much as I’d have loved to linger in Batemans Bay, it was time to move on.

My foot, that had been bleeding yesterday was actually pretty sound, healing up well – but I did decide to double-sock it just for that extra layer (something that actually didn’t work well at all, somehow it created extra friction).

Batemans Bay is a lovely town, and if fate permits me to do the BIG LAP, it’s one of those places I’d probably linger an extra day. Get to know some locals, share a bit of history.

I was headed for a town called Moruya, and according to the map it was a pretty light day (just over 25km – although there was always a bit of extra here-to-there ambient local walking, so let’s say 28). I’d already had someone write in saying that hospitality was on offer there (at the Monarch hotel)

Bumped into some lovely people on the way out of town, shared my story a few times. I had a sense of interest, even eagerness from some of the people I spoke to, incidentally, the people at the motel were extremely kind, I was finding kindness everywhere.

I got the impression that one lady, a nurse at a local hospice, would have liked me to pop in and visit the residents, but she didn’t ask and I didn’t offer, I’ll do better next time.

I was just too bloody shy.

I’d been asked to walk past two schools and wave to the children – one at Broulee and the other at Mogo, but they were down completely different paths (Broulee was ocean, Mogo was bush).

Mogo had written in first, so I took the inland road out of Batemans Bay.

On the way, I heard from Nigel, this truly lovely, sincere, genuine man living in Merimbula. He’d lost his son Brenton something like 20 years ago (if I remember right) to paediatric cancer. I wish I could have drawn out some of the terrible sorrow, carried some of the pain of that, but I don’t think I was able to do so.

What I did learn was that for people like Nigel, I was marching against cancer.

My own healing, that pilgrimage of it – secondary. Like my friend Krissy back in Brisbane (who lost her Mum the day I left), the walk resonated for them because it was a kind of bold statement – a way of saying “You *will* not win, cancer, fuck you !”

I’ll be honest, I still don’t completely share that outlook – for me, beating cancer means reducing the shadow it casts over your life. Same with covid or anything else that oppresses you/us – face up to it, deal with it, but don’t inflate it’s power and hold over you.

I’d given too much away to fear, grief, sorrow, anger.

For me it was all about acceptance and hope.

Before we get to Mogo, let me acknowledge these three joyful encounters.

Uncle Phil. An indigenous educator from up ’round Ulladulla, he teaches marginalised youth positive stuff like heritage, culture, and skills like spear fishing, herbalism/botany, dance, song.

I love this guy. Just a wonderful guy. More on him later though (he gave me a ceremonial welcome to the Yuin Nation later, at Narooma)

And then there’s Kane (not the bloke from Kung fu – the tv show, but close).

This guy completely exemplifies AUSSIE. He’s tough, strong, macho even, but balanced with a tenderness, a kind of vulnerable sweetness that I just immediately reach out for.

Big hearted. Strong. His hair is pink because he was giving an object lesson to his daughter, who wanted pink hair but was too shy to go ahead, showing support and teaching confidence and self-love.

And here’s Einstein.

He was formally ‘joining in’ at this point, but wasn’t up to walk the whole thing. Basically a disciple to the walk, he’d check in, but range ahead visiting the beaches and national parks.

It was a tremendous joy to watch this sweet man bloom, overcoming his own battle with cancer and personal hardship and sorrow.

Most excellent people, and I’m so lucky to count them as friends.

I was about to roll through a lovely little country town called Mogo, and honestly, this moment was an absolute high-point. Not just in the walk, but my life – a little island of joy to offset past suffering.

So, at the end of town I come up upon Mogo School.

Check the videos below, but it was this lovely group of young faces, eagerly asking questions, cheering, excited and happy.

I love, absolutely love, the idea that I could be a positive influence into a young persons’ life.

Anyway, take a look at the videos.

After Mogo, had a rest and a chat with Einstein then pushed forward for Moruya.

Hot afternoon, about a 3-4 hour walk, but really it wasn’t hard, just a simple joy.

I think I rode the wave of that pretty much through to the Victorian border, from that point a wider fatigue had started to set in – mostly fueled by the idea that I was almost home.

Moruya is a lovely country town, and probably gave me the most spectacular sunset of the walk (or my life), it was hypnotically gorgeous.

I had a chance to weigh the pack (about 23 kilograms) and claim my victorious “Golden Fart”, then headed off for the Monarch Hotel, where I had a safe bed and hospitality waiting for me.

(Met these lovely blokes Enrique and Denzel downstairs, but after Ulladulla shied away from the beers — which I kinda regret)

Everything was closed in town, so after dropping my pack off, I wandered back over the bridge (ohh that sunset), to a service station where I was able to buy “suspicioius servo meat” (in the shape of dim sim).

A feed, an evening stream, catch up on messages (learning that I might be able to visit the Broulee school the following day after all), and then a long and restful sleep.

I was dreaming quite vividly at this point in the walk.