Day Ten (4 January)

I woke after a lovely night of kindness thanks to Amy and Gayle whose family owns the Broadwater Hotel Motel. I didn’t know it at the time, but these offers of hospitality were about to become a lot more common.

I was diligently trying to record my story, share it with you and my family, anyone who might benefit from it in any way. Below is my morning stream, and the lovely Amy, who had the kindness to see an old boofhead fed and rested and sheltered from the nightime storm.

Passing the sugar mill in Broadwater, I was feeling pretty optimistic about myself, my Quest, the future and the world. I was slowly learning to lean into my solutions, not my problems. That failures are just lessons and if we move forward with optimism, we can enact meaningful and sustainable positive change in our lives and our world.

The weather that day was pretty relentlessly bad. I couldn’t keep my boots dry at all, and I’d bought a pair of crocs in Ballina to give them (and my feet) a bit of a break.

Apparently there was an offshore cyclone driving heavy rain into the region, and boofhead that I am, I had chosen to march right through the middle of it. There was no stopping or waiting, no turning back.

I think Captain Australia and Simon had blended in nicely now, I was no longer play acting, I was “in it”, and I was starting to feel a kind of steely resolve, no matter the pain, the misery, the ordeal – I WOULD MAKE IT. You’d have to put a bullet in my to stop me. It didn’t feel like I was trying to trick or convince myself, either. It was firm and absolute, this feeling.

I loved it, really loved it, when cars would slow a little, necks would swivel, jaws would drop and people would openly stare when driving past. “Did I just see a geriatric homebrand superhero walking down the highway through a storm ?!”, they think to themselves. I love the idea that we can break away from the humdrum workaday norms and stimulate a bit of magic, a bit of mystery and strange in our lives.

I guess that’s what Captain Australia was all about.

I made it to a little town called Woodburn. I had planned to restock on water, maybe buy a late breakfast, but I just stopped in a bus shelter for a bit, letting the rain die down, and pressed onward. In those early days, I was much less gregarious, and the public much less aware, so I blew through a lot of towns with nary a G’day. Plus I was a bit embarassed – I reckon I looked even more ridiculous and hobo-like in my army ponch and grey crocs.

Woodburn is a pretty little riverside town, but my feet were aching something fierce and the weather had galvanised me to keep pushing forward. I stopped and gave a quick update for the facebook page, rested the old feet a bit, then gathered my gear and pressed forward.

Later, I learned to stop and smell the roses a bit, but if I could re-do the walk, one thing I’d do for sure is spend more time learning (and sharing) the people and places.

Live and learn, I guess.

Moving on from Woodburn I pressed forward down the freeway. More “trucker lettuce” (nappies), roaring cars, rain. A few people stopping to say g’day, but not many. I think I made some pretty decent distance.

I did some interesting sights, some that I’m still curious about today. Those two pictures above show a weird little cluster of ramshackle buildings in a spot of bush off the old highway. Kinda secluded, not something you’d normally notice. Honestly it looked like a mini shanty town, the kind of thing where you might find a half-feral cult. Again, if I could do it over, I’d give myself more time for side-rambles, just to randomly check out all the weird things I saw.

When I was taking a rest and checking messages, I heard from a young man named Scotty, who I had met on the road yesterday near Broadwater. He has a passion to take photographs of “indigent and isolated people” which he was collecting into a book.

Haha, apparently he felt Captain Australia fell into this category, and I suppose he’s not wrong on either count.

I agreed to meet up with him and started looking for a sheltered spot.

Found a bus shelter about 8km down the road and hunkered down there, was doing a livestream update when he appeared (with a beer!), here’s the stream:

We ducked into a nearby patch of bush and I posed heroically for Scott, I hope the pictures turned out OK, I’ve written to him a couple of times asking if I can get my grubby hands on them 🙂

After parting ways with Scott, I continued legging it south, and came to New Italy. This was really nostalgic for me because I remember passing through as a boy. They had construction underway at the time, and I slept in a half-built shed, but I remember New Italy and the sense of childhood adventure, and my past and present overlapped a little bit. It was a kind of magic, I guess, that sense of overlap, it was helping me reapply some beautiful things I had as a child but had lost along the way. Hope. Faith. Trust.

I was kinda tired, and the village was shut, so I took shelter from the rain, half considering sleeping there (although it was still a bit early in the afternoon). I’d come maybe 30km or so, I guess.

But it was still such a long way to Coffs Harbour, let alone Sydney !

So I decided to press forward. A little bit at least (which turned out to only be a few more kilometres before one of my blisters popped, compelling me to stop and take stock). I’d come to a place called Cypress Hill.

Love the name. (Insane in da membrane, insane in da brain – I was rapping in my head for hours).

I looked around for the owner of a camping ground, but it was pretty much abandoned or COVID shut-down, so with a shrug I found a discreet patch with a couple of viable trees and threw up the hammock and tarp.

There was bad weather overnight but I resisted it well.

click here for DAY ELEVEN