I woke early on Day 28 for a radio interview. I’m sorry, but all of those little bits of media contact are a bit blurry for me, I was always adapting my schedule to fit in any and all.
That stuff was purely for The Kids’ Cancer Project, and I guess, indirectly .. it was for you, having learned that people were benefiting from seeing an old boofhead march through forest, beach, storm and covid.
Overnight, this phenomenal chap (Ross) had donated $1000 to the charity, and had made a DAILY DONOR DARE OF DoOOooOOoooM
“Do ten squats”
That was actually mighty civil of you, Ross. I always liked to ‘go the extra mile’ when I got a dare, so I decided to do the squats in the full gear, with the big heavy pack on.
I .. well … I just kinda forgot to zip up my fly. So as they say “superman is flying low, mate”
Had a good giggle about that when people pointed it out later.
The funny bit being: why are you looking ?!
No, the funny bit is an aging, overweight goofball dressed as an unemployed superhero, hosting his own weird homebrand ‘Aerobics Oz Style’ (remember that show ? grrrrrrrrrr)
But it’s a good kind of funny, I reckon.
I set out for a town called Seal Rock, about 45km away. I didn’t get all the way there, but I made a solid hike. The first half of the day was suburbs around Forster Tuncurry, getting out onto rural roads again, then pushing through some very pretty national forest (Booti Booti National Park)
I dont think I was ‘in it’, that day, my head and heart were somewhere else.
I felt low energy, but that wasn’t really it – there were times i was able to press forward with zero energy. In fact probably most of Victoria !
It was just a ‘flat day’, or at least it started out that way. By the time I got into some proper forested area, I started to come good.
But the first few hours – just slow, steady trudging, mind distracted. I think maybe l was just processing and reflecting.
There was intermittent rain throughout the morning, but my feet had toughened up considerably after those early weeks of wet socks and blisters.
In fact, I think I was healing much faster than I could have expected, shaking off minor pains and injuries quite easily.
I guess that’s the gift of being driven by a purpose more important than you. (Although the walk was about hope and healing, I no longer saw it as just MY walk)
This is a really beautiful stretch of country, though, I just don’t think I really started to breathe it in and appreciate it until I got to the lakes a bit later in the day.
It feels to me like most of this journal is “Oh yeah and on that day I did more walking”
If you’re reading this, my sons, some time in the distant future, know that the experience was so much more than that.
I felt a bit like a brain-addled knight on a mad Quest. There was a sense of almost constant adventure.
My encounters with other people were characterised by a sense of goofy joyfulness, most times when I’d meet people in towns or on the side of the road, it felt like making a new friend. And I think I did make some genuine proper friends – people that I’ll stay in touch with for the rest of my life.
I think you can see my grim state of mind in the pictures. Inside, I felt content, happy even – just not fully ‘there’.
Look at that beautiful country though – you can’t resist that for long.
Even in the bleakest state of mind, before too long if you immerse yourself in that stuff, it will start to weave it’s magic on you.
It’s healing, but unlike chemotherapy the side effects are all completely positive.
By the time I bumped into my mate Jack again (lovely bloke I’d met back in Black Head), my mood was completely back on-track.
I can’t remember the name of that bloke with him (Nick?), but look at the photo and tell me it doesn’t look like Luke Evans married Keanu Reeves and that’s the baby.
It was getting later in the day, so I started thinking of where to sleep, and my last chance to supply up before Seal Rock.
Every time I bought service station food, I could feel Lynette from Newcastle in the back of my mind “Not another PIE, Simon, buy something NUTRITIOUS young man!” (like I’m the worlds oldest, weariest toddler, haha)
But before camp I did find this combined servo/grocery store and was able to pick up a bit of hot food.
(Which I ate sitting on the side of the road like an old-school hobo, there weren’t many people around but those who did sure had a good old stare)
I did have a significant encounter with this really lovely man, Darren, on the side of heavily forrested, winding and mountainous road.
I was a pretty deep, serious and quite intense talk, most of which I need to keep private, out of respect for the man.
He’d had a long and sometimes difficult life, with a great many challenges along the way, and he’d made some pretty bad decisions here and there, stacked up more than a few regrets.
We talked about suffering, sorrow, regret, but also how it can transform into hope.
He was carrying a sixpack of Bundy Rum in his car, and gave me one, which I carried around in my utility belt all day.
Haha. Utility belt. Like I think I’m batman, but armed with bundy rum and a slightly better attitude.
I spent about an hour in the late afternoon looking for an optimal campsite, and found a good, discrete patch of bush that wasn’t too heavily grassed or had too much undergrowth (that, because of snakes and other pests). I also was watchful for other hazards like falling branches.
As the sun set, I did a long and chatty stream, pretty much telling my life story. After that, I lay in darkness, sipping bundy rum and chatting via text to my new friend Darren, who I agreed to meet for lunch the following day at Seal Rock.