Day Seventy Five (10 March)

Day 75 of the BIG WALK didn’t actually have too much walking – on the map it’s something like 25km (although there’s always a few extra kilometres here and there once you get to your destination, which I called ‘ambient walking’ because I thought it sounded clever.

With the walk beginning to wind down, a felt a slight undercurrent of concern, a kind of protectiveness – a need to work through the things I’d learned, so I didn’t lose them.

After learning acceptance, peace, after a slow process of rebuilding myself, I was falling into a subtle psychological trap. Slipping a little too much ‘into my own head’

Nothing too severe though, I just want to recognise that I think I should have kept going after Melbourne, built on it and continued.

I’d come a long way, but not all the way – the walk was winding to a close, and I had mixed feelings, a kind of eagerness to finish, but also a strange kind of obligation (to myself, I suppose) to make sure I got the things I set out for, hope and healing.

Sorry, slipping into an existential ramble even now, sitting in front of a computer late at night. Occupational hazard of being Simon, I guess.

On waking on Day 75, I went down to a local cafe to meet Larry, Coola and Jody, we had a nice little breakfast, coffee and a long talk about life.

I don’t have photos, sadly, just one of Jody (above) trying on the Captain Australia mask.

I got the sense that Larry and Coola weren’t exactly SHY but they were pretty humble and private people, as much as I adore and want to share them, I had to respect that.

On the way out of town I bumped into Carol and her husband – bloody phenomenal people (I can’t remember his name, Greg maybe? sorry mate)

They were off on a road trip and had invited me to use their family home at Morwell. I can’t tell you how humbling and elevating that is – the trust of it, the kindness of it.

Carol was there at Federation Square on the final day of the walk too. Carol, I’ll be forever grateful for your relentless support and kindness, mate.

Bloody legends.

I also bumped into the Noltes (from Bairnsdale) again, which was a joy, they’re wonderful people, we’re still in contact.

I say “bumped into” but Kitty (the wife) later admitted to me that Gavin had been bouncing around like a school-boy, they’d picked up some food for me, and been driving around hoping to spot me and see that I was fed.

Again, I think that’s staggering.

It’s not just the kindness of it. That part is great, but what I find wonderful (and very important) is the INSPIRATION of it.

I’m just this old boofhead, doing my Mad Quest, but Gavin, this big hearted bloke, took something from that, something pure, fun, positive.

It lifted him up, brightened his day, maybe his world a little bit, and I think that is pure and righteous and wonderful.

But in doing that, in receiving it and passing it back to me, we create the circle, this incredible loop of kindness and inspiration that I think is the key to redeeming our species.

We have to pull back from this criticise-attack-procure-win-eat-fuck-kill mentality that we have, learn to see and celebrate the merit, the light, in each other.

The afternoon was actually a safe and pleasant walk – there was a long distance, maybe as much as five kilometres or so, with more roadworks due to the freeway revamp.

It meant that I was able to walk behind a big, secure concrete barrier, and sit down safely to rest any old time I wanted to.

You can see from the pictures, pretty ideal.

Usually, if I was off the road, I was somewhere difficult. Trudging through sand on a beach or beach track, watchful for snakes on little bush/goat tracks.

I may seem like a fool, but I was always watchful, always trying to mitigate any risks. But that afternoon it was nice to be able to switch off and just enjoy the breeze on my face and the sunshine on my shoulders.

(Breeze on my bum too – as you’ll see in one of the photos, I’d torn the brown pants as well, so walking around my big old bum was poking out through a rather substantial hole)

I’d sent Uniform 4 (the police/ninja one) home, and left the blue/wet weather one with Einstein, so I only had the two now, and they were both falling to pieces after so long on the road.

(thats me in a shop mirror window, just as I arrive in Traralgon)

Traralgon was the first realy big, built up area in a while – it felt like a proper city. I know Sale, Bairnsdale, they are cities in their own right as well, but they still had that country town feel, to me anyway.

Traralgon, I found myself getting a little bit lost & turned around on the way to the hotel, crossing through a large shopping centre, getting a little bit lost – after all the time in bush, beach and country towns, I’d lost the knack of navigating through an urban hub.

Got there eventually though, and the staff were all aware of who I was and what I was doing, I got this really strange reception, it was … I don’t know the right word … somehow … respectful.

I usually felt pretty shy and self effacing, but know there was value in my story, so when talking to people I’d just try and ‘keep it real’, be myself.

But the lovely staff at the Mantra Traralgon, they treated me a little bit like a rockstar (or at least a b grade celebrity). It was actually very nice.

I was due to visit the radio station in the morning, and didn’t want to set off any Biohazard Alerts (due to my pong), so it was great to get the chance to do some laundry.

I really was getting spoiled with all this comfort on the road. But even so, I think you can see from the expression on my face what a shock it was.

Sleeping rough, in a hammock, in a forest, in a storm, and then you’ve got day after day of this tremendous kindness and hospitality.

That evening I went on a quest for some wonton soup, and caught up with the people following along on facebook .. but the video is below, so I’ll let it tell it’s own story.

Once I was fed and laundered, I caught up with the news (all bad, sadly, terrible floods, that shitheel Putin and all that unnecessary death and sorrow in the Ukraine.

I think that stayed in my mind as I fell asleep, because I had vivid dreams of strife, of puzzles unsolved, promises broken.