Day Thirty Seven (31 January)

After another night camping rough, I woke early (and probably a big pongy), excited to get into the Greater Sydney area.

The goal was to get to a little town called Ettalong, and ride a ferry across the bay into Northern Shores, and then walk south from there.

I’d bumped into this gorgeous young family late the previous afternoon, and I was hoping to find them again at a local coffee shop and say hello. From India or Sri Lanka, I think, and incredibly sweet and kind. I’m not 100% sure, but I think after they spotted me they must have let some people in the community know, because I stopped at a service station with one of those Pie Face shops for a spot of brekky, and they seemed to know I was coming, and made a really lovely donation to The Kids’ Cancer Project.

The video below is my breakfast update, and some new friends who came over to whistle at me.

It’s funny, you know – I’ve never been great with animals, but Captain Australia really is. Birds would fly over to me, land on my body, share my protein bars, horses would canter over to the fence and give me hugs, I’d even get friendlier-than-normal reactions from the odd Alpaca. (And I suppose snakes had the decency to not bite me too!)

I enjoyed a delicious PIE FACE pie, sharing with my new Magpie friends, and then hit the road for Ettalong.

It was still about 2 hours into town, that’s the thing about walking, it’s always a chunk of time to get ANYWHERE. And you plan on 2 hours to get to a town, but that gets you to the outskirts, then you’ve got an hour or so walking THROUGH the town.

I suppose walking teaches you to slow down, take things as they come.

This photo was taken by a young bloke driving his kids to school, and when he sent it in to me later, he expressed amazement at what I was doing, and said “Mate, I thought you were an old school swagman, like in Waltzing Matilda, just ambling from place to place”

I got a real kick out of that, if I’m honest.

Eventually I made it to Ettalong, but I missed the early ferry, and had about an hour to wait for the next one.

That was all well and good, because my mate John was waiting at the pier. He’d been supporting the walk for a long time, and was pretty stoked for the chance to meet face to face (I mean I was – although I think he was too)

There was another lovely bloke whose name I can’t for the life of me, remember. He explained that he was cycling in to Sydney, and I remember remarking, impressed “Jeez mate, that’s a slog, especially in this hot weather, nice one!”

(Not quite understanding his weird look back, and then realising that I was about to do it on foot and with my pack, haha)

We just sat there at the ferry terminal, passing the time of day, talking about all manner of things.

We spoke about the walk, a little bit, but most of it was about our histories, our families, what we cared about, what we believed.

I think that’s my biggest failing in the BIG WALK, my sincerest regret – not capturing those little moments.

Because that’s what it was all about, I think. Simple Aussie friendship and kindness. Lifting each other up.

The ferry ride was short and pleasant, and I had the joy of hearing from a dear friend, Eddie. He’s a very private person, not quite shy, so I don’t have pictures or video of him.

We organised to meet up somewhere in the next couple of hours, and I was overjoyed. He’s a lovely bloke, old school gentleman – and a good friend. It had been a long time since I’d seen him, and I was excited, despite the peculiar circumstances. It had been years.

After landing on the north shore, I just legged it south.

Long, winding roads. Many hills. Weather jumping back and forth from rain to stark, burning heat.

Welcome to Sydney, Captain Australia !

Sadly, I don’t have much to share on the remainder of the afternoon.

I walked with my friend Eddie, but like I said, he’s a private guy. And I was so absorbed in seeing my friend and making it to Sydney, that I didn’t really collect much in the way of photos or video.

Another indicator that I was quite distracted: I lost my HAT!

My magic Captain Australia cowboy hat, that had protected me so well so far. Gone.

I’d sat down for a rest outside a school in Mona Vale, and not clipped it properly to the back of my pack, and it just slipped off some time in the subsequent walking.

Oh well, just a possession. But I miss that hat 🙂

Sydney was a horribly difficult slog, and I think I impressed my friend a little (and he’s a tremendously athletic guy)

In the hot late afternoon sun, he offered to find me a cabin at a local caravan park, and although I had strong reservations about the public paying for a place to sleep, I was honoured to accept it from my mate Eddie.

After a fond farewell, I started to try and get my act together for the harbour bridge crossing, although my planning and organising the public was completely half-arsed, I was still very excited, hoping to have some people cross with me.