Day Forty Eight (11 February)

I made some (I hope) lifelong friends on Day 48 of my BIG WALK. Can you transform a life completely in 48 days ? Yes, I think you can.

I think that’s one of the lessons of the walk – that with effort and vision, transformational change is available.

Total remission of sorrow. Hope. Happiness. Forward momentum.

Life isn’t here to nurture and coddle us, it can be wonderful and joyful, but also hard and cruel. But I’ve learned that if you’d rather live in shit than pick up a shovel, things are unlikely to get better. But if you move forward with HOPE ? Anything is possible.

Day 48 was monumental. I met people who I now consider to be lifetime friends. But also, it was the first official appearance of …

…. Barry the sound intern !

This became a running gag of the walk – that a good tv show needs theme music, and I’d sometimes pretend that there was this unpaid sound intern (later to be called “Barry”) who kept flubbing the job.

The day did have a rough start, though.

Intense rain overnight really hadn’t relented with the rising of the sun. I gave it a good half hour, hoping the rain would back off, but no joy.

It did die down to a light patter though, so gathering my gear together, wrapping my wet-weather poncho around me, I hit the road.

Well .. the forest path, actually.

I’d spent the night well off the road, in a deep section of new growth forest, but there was no canopy, so the rain had full access.

Hoisting the back, I trudged back onto the road and got moving toward Ulladulla.

I think it was only 12-15km, but in the wet and with the long and winding roads, up some pretty hefty hills, it was a hard slog.

Gorgeous country though.

I had a couple of calls from radio personalities that morning, and I think their generous support was really helping to build a ‘buzz’

Instead of a crazy old boofhead walking, as I rolled into towns there was this sense of “Hooray ! Captain Australia made it here ! Let’s look after him, good on us all!”

Even though much of the walk was me, alone, on the road – with the occasional beeps and stares (which I always found funny, the expressions of befuddlement and confusion – or better, wonder), it was becoming more and more ‘our’ walk.

I’d been adopted by the Australian public, like the worlds’ oldest and strangest dressed toddler.

The walk to Ulladulla was pretty uneventful.

The harsh weather mellowed out mid-morning, but I was resisting the wet pretty well these days.

There were some long and rolling hills to contend with, in parts it felt outright mountainous.

But I was actually becoming pretty strong and fit, and dealt with that aspect of the toil really well.

Carrying that massive pack, I was actually developing a new sense of self respect, a kind of grudging acknowledgement that I had a bit of steel in me.

I’ve always felt ill-at-ease with prideful people, those ones who want to tell you how great they are .. but I was finding a little bit of pride was OK, it was a symptom of learning to love yourself.

These photos really don’t show you how long and arduous that hilly morning walk was – but at least in this one you can see how perilous the roads sometimes got – there’s virtually no shoulder, with cars, trucks and buses going up and down.

And over the safety barrier is this long, thick dense grass – no visibility, clambering over into that for safety exposes you to a different kind of risk: a friendly bite from a redbelly black snake for example.

Just had to manage the risks.

As with all the hazards of the walk, I just assessed it, faced it and pushed through.

Up top of a long and treacherous hill, I found myself in Milton, just a hop, skip & a jump away from Ulladulla.

In Milton I met this lovely bloke Scotty, who bought me a lamington and some water, as well as a bunch of other friendly faces and eager hellos.

Next time, I’ll hang out in the towns more, shoot the shit with the people, but that day I was marching hard, head down.

When I arrived at Ulladulla, I bumped into this very sweet man whose name was Dane. An addict in recovery, he too was turning his life around from a specific darkness and sorrow.

Although our circumstances were dramatically different, I think we met as kindred spirits and took a certain kind of inspiration and hope (and validation) from each other.

Thanks Dane, I wish you well.

Now, for the stay at the Marlin Hotel, I’m just going to have to let the videos tell the story for me.

The kindness and hospitality was WONDERFUL, and .. for the first time in a long time .. I got drunk as a lord.

My gracious hosts, Vicki, Judy and crew were just marvelous, and I met a bunch of drinking buddies like Zach and Ashley, had a wonderful time. It was an evening of friendly faces and life stories.

The person I’d come to meet though, was Phil. Such an enigmatic figure. Lean. Wiry. Watchful somehow, clearly smart. But through that cutting intelligence, you can tell there’s this vulnerability and a big heart.

I was hoping to share the road with him for a while, but that didn’t pan out – but it was a great pleasure spending that long and boozy evening hanging out, chatting, drinking.

Thank you, Phil, for your hospitality and support.

The Marlin is also where I met EINSTEIN, who I just plain adore.

I think he’s batshit crazy (like me), but in a wonderful, genius kinda way. Big hearted, sincere, honest. I’ve fielded so many rants from him where he rando texts me up telling me things I should have done differently, smarter (and he’s almost always right)

And his cats. Ahh yeah. We’ll get to that in the coming days, but I sure made some great friends that night.

After that long and boozy evening, I retired at about 11pm, totally drunk. I’d had about ten schooners or pots or whatever is the biggest of a beer called “Captain Sensible” (Captain Austrlaia should know his beer sizes, jeez), with my messed up metabolism more than enough to bowl me over.

Slept well, woke with my first hangover in years.