Day Forty Seven (10 February)

OK boys (and anybody else who ever reads this), you’re home from school today, and dad has a horrible cough as well – so trying my best to supervise you guys while knuckling down and being productive with this journal.

It does lift my mood though, because Day 47 was great, it’s the day I met Scout Coralie !

(Well, actually I met a bunch of people)

When you look at the “Wall of Memories”, you’ll see those thumbnails for each day of the walk, and in the first pictures it’s mostly me and places – but from this point forward the walk became more-and-more about the people.

It was no longer “Captain Australia’s BIG WALK”, although I was doing the walking, it felt a little bit like it was becoming ‘our’ big walk, that people watching were invested in the righteous themes of it – and not just my personal struggle, that a broken life can be fixed, all that – but are a more society level .. that we can be beautiful and dedicated and good, that we can push forward through disease (it was still pretty intense with covid), that it’s never too late to have an adventure.

I think my mate Andy knows that too, as a couple of old fellas looking at CHOOSING the next (last?!) phase of our lives, and urgently wanting those choices to have meaning, to be joyful and true.

Backing yourself like that, it takes a level of courage, I reckon.

There’s no way I’d have the gumption to do what Andy does get up on stage, make yourself vulnerable like that, tell your stories, try to make them funny, give people a giggle.


Anyways, started the morning well, with a cup of hot coffee with my mate Andy High, and a bit of a play with his friend Baxter (the big furry fellow in the videos).

Andy suggested I write something on the boots, turn them into a memento which could be auctioned off for the charity later, and like everything else in the walk, I just did my best, dreaming it up on the spot.

I think (in addition to signing), I wrote something like: Hope is the fuel / Kindness is the engine / Joy is the destination.

I covered about 35-40km that day, and the walking was onerous, even painful.

The new boots were great, plenty of tread, but they hadn’t been ‘sprung in’ yet, and I couldn’t (or wouldn’t) take it easy.

I didn’t have the advantage of all those pre-walk practices back up in Brisbane, I was front-and-centre, and I paid the price in blisters that day. But it wasn’t too bad, and my feet were already pretty tough by then, I was healing up quite marvelously, I was actually surprised, even amazed. Injuries that were a concern in the evening were pretty much good-to-go the following morning. (Honestly, I felt a bit like Deadpool).

Mid morning, I rolled through a little town called BEWONG, and this triggered a ‘moment’ for me, where I had this old TV theme song in my mind, but sung like Elmer Fudd..

You and me BEWONG together, you and I forevah and evah …

It was relentless, over-and-over in my mind, trying to place it, but the problem went away when someone told me in live stream it was the theme to HOME & AWAY.

I also met this magnificent boofhead, Kane.

A fine specimen (who I met again several times later on the road), had a great old chat with this lovely fellow.

He had died his hair bright pink to support his daughter – she had wanted pink hair but felt that the kids at school would sling shit at her for it.

So, in a classic aussie dad move, Kane dyes his own hair bright pink and tells her “what matters is how YOU feel, and the people you love”

Anyone who slings shit at you for trying to be happy … fuck those guys (sorry for swearing), all they’re doing is revealing that they aren’t worthy of your friendship, and that they sling shit because shit is all they have to offer.

(That wasn’t all Kane, we kinda reached that manifesto together on the side of the road that day)

But I would buy it for a dollar. I think it’s true, and that, since there’s so much opinion-noise around us these days, deflecting haters is an essential skill for a kid.

After my rest at Bewong (and brief removal of the boots to examine some worrying blisters), I continued the long trek to Ulladulla.

I was really looking forward to it, and meeting a bloke called Phil, who had been watching and corresponding since the early planning phase, all those practice walks up in Brisbane.

Such a wonderful source of support and feedback.

A few weeks ago, I’d thought about powering down the HUME HIGHWAY, abbreviating the walk.

It wasn’t so much the physical toil (maybe a little), it was the idea of getting it done and getting home to my family. But I’d agreed to visit Ulladulla, and that was a major factor keeping me on the coastline. In retrospect though, I’ve learned something about decision-making from choices like that.

You don’t have to get it right every time, but if you just .. ask your heart .. you can get a sense of whether it’s positive or negative factors motivating your choice (and just always lean into the positive).

But yeah, it was Phil that drew me to Ulladulla, and without that, and everything that happened subsequently, the entire walk would have had a different tone.

Better ? Worse ? Doesn’t matter.

I wouldn’t trade some of the experiences I had for a bucket of gold. Hmm. Well, maybe. How BIG a bucket ?

But there is so much of it that I did a poor job capturing and sharing.

Like this wonderful lady with the smiley thumbs up.

I can’t for the life of me remember her name.

And worse, I think she was someone who had been following the walk, making comments, suggestions – and I wasn’t connecting the online identity with the big smile in front of me.

If ever you read this, my smiley friend, I’m sorry.

Not just to you, but to myself, my sons, and the people watching. Because there’s value in sharing every single person I met on the road.

The value in that light and kindness, it’s not dimmed by repetition but enhanced.

If fate lets me take my BIG WALK (all the way around Australia), I’m going to collect people like Pokemon. Ask them about their values, their best/worst story, their hopes for the future.

I think there’s tremendous value in that – we’ve become so separated and surrounded by false faces.

I mean, look at this magnificent boofhead, donating fifty bucks to paediatric cancer research.

Had cancer touched his life ? Was he impressed by the undertaking, did he find it hilarious ? What was his name and favourite joke ?

This lovely bloke – nothing on him too – except we spoke deeply and earnestly about a charity he was involved with helping victims of domestic violence escape their aggressor.

Even fun stuff – like if I’d put this family in the spotlight and the little girl had pirhouetted and said “My Name’s Candice, and I wanna be a ballerina !” (or a construction worker, lawyer or stage magician, you can do ANYTHING mate)


I could have collected these wonderful kind people like pokemon.

And all I have are these few photos, because I didn’t see the ‘bigger picture’

The value in the PEOPLE and the emerging themes of the walk.

I purely saw them as selfish – helping me repair my broken life, elevating me, giving me hope, creating that circle of kindness.

And these encounters were so rich and nourishing, helping me immensely.

What I regret in not taking that “Gotta Catch ‘Em All” approach, is that they may also help you immensely, or someone you know who is alone and trapped in sorrow.

Even with my infirmities (old boofhead needs to hear a name at least 3 times before it sticks), I’ll never forget Scout Coralie.

She came and found me on the road to Ulladulla, with the help of her Mum Melissa. She was eager to meet, and I think as we shared the road (maybe 5km) and talked about life – I think she was ‘sizing me up’ trying to figure out if I was the Real Deal.

Such a smart and gifted young person.

And so ethically minded ! Oriented toward good works – check out this community garden and pantry set up recently in Ulladulla.

The fact that she took inspiration from my walk was an incredible validation to me, it helped me see what I was doing in a new way.

The funny thing though – I took way more inspiration from Coralie the Wonder Scout than I could ever give. Rebuilding personal hope was a struggle for me, but meeting someone like her gives me this slow blooming sense of hope for all of us – the future of the species, I mean.

The rest of the afternoon was pretty solitary.

Long stretches of gorgeous country (something I was still taking great nourishment from, more than worth the blisters).

I’d been told a storm was coming (and it sure did hit with a vengeance), I found this old fire trail leading off into the bush a bit (I liked to sleep somewhere a bit away from the road).

The problem with the site was that fire had ripped through there in the past.

Falling trees and branches were a tremendous physical risk, but I found an area with young, sturdy saplings, and the new green growth told me they were strong and the risk was low.

So I set up my hammock and new tarp, and when the overnight storm hit, I slept soundly through most of it, waking up briefly to do an awkward wee.

(Haha, I shouldnt share this bit, but it’s a funny image, the old fella throwing his body sideways in the hammock, unzipping the insect net and balancing like a gymnast as he did his business .. actually clambering out in that intense storm would have had me soaked to the skin in seconds).

Slept really well, and I was only about 12km or so out of Ulladulla !