Day Twenty (14 January)

I’d been on the road for almost three weeks !

I’d learned so much already, about grief, acceptance, hope, strength and love.

I was up at sunrise to the mooing of a field of nearby cows, and carefully gathered my gear together. There were a few mozzies and whatnot about as the ground was quite saturated from the weeks of heavy rain.

People ask “how did you keep going, day after day ?”, but as I reflect back on the walk, at least at this point – forward momentum was never an effort.

The walking was an ordeal, a daily struggle, I would push against my limits, try to keep going past ordinary endurance – but .. at the same it was easy .. or rather, I didnt THINK about the effort, because I was deep IN it.

I was on my Quest, and I saw it as a necessary and important thing, so there was no doubt, no whinging, it was a privilege.


Flag up ? Check !

Beard still in a little ribbon ? Check !

Ponytails ? Sorry, too awkward with the hat on, but hey, I’d definitely honoured the “4 hour” criteria from the Daily Donor Dare of DooOOooM, so I was in the clear.

Packed up and good-to-go, Captain Australia once more fearlessly hit the road.

I say ‘fearless’ in a joshing, just-kidding-around kind of way, but I think I actually WAS pretty fearless throughout the walk. The main thing on the road was the massive trucks, small margins to walk on, long snake-riddled roadside grass and the more general issues like heatstroke and dehydration.

People would ask about psychos or hoons, rando drunken teens wanting to find and roll me – but I honestly never really worried about human interference.

I suppose there’s an element of slow-building confidence in there somewhere, the idea that I was strong and resolute, so if anybody decided they wanted to hurt me, I might just give them a surprise. But I absolutely despise violence. I think it was more acceptance, and a growing understanding that people are actually (for the most part) gorgeous and filled with light.

The walk to Gladstone (like most of my trek) had me passing through some gorgeous country – but for hours I was relentlessly attacked by flies, like a squadron of X-Wing fighters having a crack at the Death Star.

I had repellent (Bushman’s) but these bastardly little buggers were not to be deterred by mere technology and hate.

The whole walk was waving my hand left and right and cursing “effing flies, goddamn effing mother effer flies, get the eff out of here you effing effers” (haha)

Made it to Gladstone mid-morning and hit up the general store for a feed. They sold me a magnificent works burger and a bottle of lemonade (and I stocked up on protein bars).

I’d been getting a daily (s)mothering from a lovely lady in Newcastle Lynette who kept urging me to eat, rest, etc, haha she became “The BIG WALKS unofficial Mum” (and some thought she was my actual mother)

This is Julz (from Woolgoolga)’s Dad by the way, flat-strap lovely bloke.

He came up while I was eating my burger for a G’day, followed by another lovely lady who had sadly lost her teenage daughter to cancer about ten years ago (if I remember right).

I was learning to relax and have a good old chat, try and resist that bubbling pressure to keep moving forward, keep “making the Ks” because every one was getting me closer to hugging my family again.

After leaving Gladstone, I took a long, winding country road along the Belmore River. It was a lot like the stretch between Maclean and Grafton – a little used country road through pretty farmland on one side and a gorgeous river on the other.

I was trying to be a bit more Zen about the experience. Be alive in the moment – not worry about the before and after but be in the ‘now’.

This meant less rushing, less of a relentless pace.

Stop watching the clock when you rest, old man.

(Heh, sometimes I’d even fall asleep, just an old hobo by the side of the road snoring – nothing to see here, people!)

On one of my breaks in a gorgeous spot right beside the river, I was musing, talking, sharing and reflecting when I got a message from a local mum whose family was impacted by paediatric cancer.

They’d spotted me marching along, and apparently the kids (Mason & Flynn) were getting a giggle out of it, so she wrote in asking me to do a SHOUT OUT.

Like most of what I did, I was just earnestly trying to do my best with no specific concrete plan, so when trying to do the shout-out, I randomly decided to see if I could get them to battle rap me.

The video to the left is the result. I didn’t hear back, so maybe they were intimidated by the raw power of my lyrical flow. Or maybe they didn’t like it 🙂

The afternoon march took me closer to the beach, a road that ran adjacent down into Crescent Head. I figured on camping north of town and rolling through in the morning, with a stop for breakfast and maybe a few g’days before continuing south for Port Macquarie.

I met this young lady, who said that in a dream the night before, a spirit told her a mentor was about to appear. She wanted to pack up her life and walk across Australia, and felt our encounter was a sign.

I urged both prudence (if you’re going to do it, have a plan AND WATER) and following your heart (be happy and try and leave the world a better place than you found it).

But I’m not sure I was the guru she was waiting for! (I just wish her well).

I couldn’t tell you how long or how far I walked on Day 21.

Just that I was up at dawn and pitched camp at dusk. It was a long day of toil in the hot sun, blessed by the river breeze.

It was a day of health. A day of rebuilding.

I think I’d let go of most of my past grief weeks prior, but those were the big ugly chunks. I think days like this were for:

  • getting stronger, physically and mentally
  • reflecting on my life, teasing out those last bits of grief, resentment, sorrow
  • being alive and beneath the clear blue sky, learning again what joy looked like
  • thinking about who I had become and who I wanted to be, rebuilding myself
  • sharing those things with you, my friend and therapist, in the hopes it was helping you as well.

After I pitched camp, I got a message from my wife that a neighbour (an old lady that we had helped many times) came around and threatened to have our dog put to sleep (her exact words) if we couldnt get his barking under control. (A nearby neighbour had bought a cat and it was skirting the yards on it’s nightly patrol, plus I think Harry just missed me)

A reminder that although there are bright and joyful lights, you have to protect and preserve them.