Day 77 was the beginning of the final week of the BIG WALK. All in all, I was doing just fine, I felt strong, optimistic, but there was this sense of .. worry, protectiveness and also reflection.
The worry was just … had I done all I could ? Would I get to keep the gains that I’d worked so hard for, or were they written in sand ? Was I going to get a bit more media coming into Melbourne, and push the charity donation numbers up a bit higher ?
The reflectiveness comes through in the live streams, I think. I still joke around, do the goofy ‘Barry’ stuff .. but I also talk a lot about hope and inspiration, how we can fight our way back from sorrow and darkness.
I was doing one of these streams when I met my mate Penny in Morwell, you can see from the videos (above & to the right) how that went.
Lovely lady, and just an example of that ripple effect, the way kindness and inspiration spread and grow in the sharing.
After I met Penny, I had to find a quiet spot for my interview with Danny & West Bremer radio (he rang every saturday morning throughout the walk, without fail).
He was in a pretty jocular mood that morning, and kept poking fun at how I looked, comparing me to an iconic local bagman that we have in Brisbane, a homeless guy named “Ziggy” who always looks like a kind of filthy version of Gandalf the Grey.
So I guess, while funny, his observations were also pretty fair, heh.
After the interview and a few chats with friendly locals, I needed to get moving, and the wonderful Penny walked with me out of Morwell (a good few kilometres).
She had heard about me through her friend Vera who organised the “Morwell to Melbourne in March (MMM) Challenge” (where everyone dropped ten bucks into the bucket and had to walk the 150km distance over the month (so a bare minimum of 5km per day).
They raised a good few hundred for The Kids’ Cancer Project, which was just tremendous.
For my part, I had 7 days to get there, so really just a comfortable 20km per day on average. The plan for Day 77 was a bit open, but I ended up heading for a town called Trafalgar, and was greeted by Peter and his lovely family (more on that later) and had a safe place to sleep courtesy of the local pub.
After a pleasant morning walk and chat, I said my farewells to Penny and continued on alone.
The rest of the morning walk was actually pretty solitary.
I valued that, to be honest. As much as I adored all the kindness, these tremendous waves of support from people, there was this solitary little part of me that was protective of that sense of … Quest.
Know what I mean ?
To bear the unbearable sorrow .. to run where the brave dare not go
As crazy as it may seem, I’d created such hope, learned such profound lessons, I genuinely felt (and still feel) that my Big Walk was a Quest, a Pilgrimage, like a Knight of Old or something.
I did bump into this family that I’d met the afternoon before in Morwell. Absolutely lovely people.
They’d dealt with darkness and addiction and were pushing through that and into the light. I loved them for the courage that took, and the dignity that it gave them (G’day Red Scarf, if you ever read this, mate).
But yeah .. as to my mood – I think it comes through in the photos.
I’m not sad, but even when I’m smiling I’m not fully smiling, you know ? There’s a reflective, almost pensive mood about me.
Thinking back on it, I wish I’d leaned into it even harder. I was always trying to do at least three things at once — make people who wanted to meet happy — survive the day of walking –reflect on my learnings — do a good job for the charity.
I just think I had profound lessons percolating away in the back-ground, and I might have been better served (and been better able to serve others) if I’d just stopped and spent a day in solemn reflection, even meditation.
Really dove into what my mind, heart and spirit was trying to imprint on me, you know ?
Anyway, we all know what they say about hindsight..
I did wind up completely bypassing Moe, but there’s a Maccas on the western end of town, so I agreed to go and hang around there for an hour or so (some people had messaged in wanting to meet).
I met some absolutely wonderful people too – there’s Kelly who was on her way to a demolition derby with her son (she came out to trafalgar the following day and walked with me)
I also met Peter who lives out near Longwarry, and a bunch of others, an hour turned into more like two before I got moving again.
As I was leaving Maccas, this family comes running up to me (you’ll see a photo with this kid with a massive bright smile down below – his name is Joe, I think)
They were so excited ! It was phenomenal, I couldn’t help but grin. It was the whole reason for Captain Australia .. a validation .. the idea that someone can get a massive burst of inspiration from the idea of an old boofhead trying to be a superhero.
I seriously reckon they’d have been no more bouncy and excited if it had been Dwayne the Rock Johnson or someone like that 😀
I was stopped by police on the way out of Moe, but they were friendly and polite. I asked if I was breaking any laws, and they told me to try and walk in the grass instead of on the bitumen if I could. (I said I’d do my best, but sometimes you also had to be mindful of snakes).
You know in QLD and NSW, I barely saw any police, and was never stopped. One time a police cruiser near Ulladulla said on their loudspeaker as they drove past “Go Captain ! Love your work !” (which had me grinning for hoursafter)
In Victoria, I was stopped on five separate occasions. (But only asked formal questions on two, and given instructions on one)
Don’t get me wrong, I was polite and so were they, it was smiles and selfies, really no different than anyone else pulling over for a G’day.
But they took my name. My information. Put it into a computer. No righteous cause, and if my own behaviour hadn’t been friendly and receptive, I have to wonder how it could have gone.
Also, just after the police I met Roseann, and she was quite concerned about it. It felt to me like the relationship with arms of government in Victoria was subtley different.
In any case, I made it to Trafalgar and met Peter and his wife (and their marvelous son .. I think his name is Hunter).
They guided me to the Hotel Criterion, and although the pub wasn’t currently offering rooms to the public (the upper floor was mostly vacant), I’d been offered hospitality.
I’ll let the videos speak for themselves, but when taken to the room, I was told how a security guard had quit or something after saying he had seen/heard some weird stuff .. like a female ghost)
I’ve never had an experience even vaguely supernatural before, but I always strive to keep an open and balanced mind.
I was chatting to my friend Sarah, who I met in Nowa Nowa. She had told me she was a spiritualist, and when I told her about the ghost story, she said to ‘film the door’.
The videos are below – but basically the weird sounds .. I couldnt hear them with my ears at the time of recording, only in the playback AFTER the fact.
Might be crazy. Sleepy. Maybe my stomach gurgling .. but I also have to accept the possibility that there was an entity. I just wish it was more clear-cut, that I actually SAW something.
Anyway, the videos explain themselves.
Sarah told me to record a second one, and partway through I felt this strange shiver (you can see the camera move at the same time as the gurgle sound). The whisper at the end kind of freaks me out.
Again, I promise – I heard NOTHING at the time of recording, it’s only after the video played back that I could hear the gurgling and whispering noises.
If you put a gun to my head, I’d say I recorded a supernatural entity. A ghost, a demon, who knows ?
For me, not really too bothered one way or the other. My main regard is for the living, and the choices we make. I’m done thinking over-much on death and the hereafter, I’m alive and I want to make sure that counts for something.
I also got an invitation from Henry the Bunyip, who lives in a town called Bunyip – so I agreed to stop there and eat him .. er … I mean MEET him.
I slept pretty well that night, nothing going bump – but I’ll be honest, when I needed to pee at 2am, I used an empty bottle rather than brave the dark and lightless narrow old corridors.