I woke at about 5:30am, with my host still asleep. Not unlike Quentin & Taki’s farm near Grafton, I stealthily crept about gathering my gear, not wanting to wake anybody up.
Kim had left a half-used bottle of pink dye (bought for her daughter months ago) on the bathroom counter, so I crept in there and with the deft and silent movements of a ninja I lathered that gooey pink stuff all through my magnificent beard. Haha, what a strange life, what a great little moment to collect and remember.
I paused on my way out of this lovely little town to share my incredible new look in live-stream.
It’s funny you know. You get used to weird. I was well used to being dressed up as Captain Australia, the boggling stares.
But throw in one new element (like strange glasses or a bright pink beard) and suddenly I feel all awkward and shy. But it was a dare and I had to honour it!
The town pretty soon gave way to farms and bush, and I was on the road to North Haven.
As with much of the walk, there wasn’t much shoulder to walk along, but there was a nice little cement gutter.
These were usually sloped, so walking along them for a few hours would put a weird angling stress on your ankles.
It was a very pretty morning, and strangely for high summer, a bit chilly. (You can kinda see in this last picture, a bit of morning fog).
I was headed for a beachside town called Harrington, nestled on the Manning River (apparently a tremendous spot for fishing). The lovely, evil, sinister supervillain T Kaz down in Melbourne had apparently felt guilty about the dares and had organised a cabin at a local caravan park there. (I wish she hadn’t in a way, “never discourage kindness” but I didn’t want people buying accommodation – hospitality was OK, but if none was on the table, sleeping rough was the plan!)
In the morning, I usually didn’t know what lay ahead of me. I wanted to preserve the think-on-your-feet adventure of it and not plan more than a day ahead – so it was rare to know where I’d be sleeping.
But today I had to make 45km to Harrington, because I didn’t want to let T Kaz down. She’d spent hard earned coin on that cabin, so I had to get there by nightfall.
I was also concerned about the Manning River, and possibly begging a boat-ride from a local fisher-person.
If I couldn’t manage that, I’d have to divert inland and follow the freeway, which would mean a significant detour (maybe 30km) and also more rough, loud, onerous freeway walking.
But thanks to the kindness of a lovely bloke (David Duff), a solution was falling into place behind the scenes.
Haha, I’d been adopted by the people watching, and you all were solving my problems for me before I even had to face up to them !
By the time I made it to the little lakeside town of North Haven, I found out that he had called ahead to the local Marine Rescue Unit (Crowdy Harrington Marine Rescue) and lobbied for them to get me across the river.
So all the old fella had to do was WALK.
When I got to North Haven, more kindness. Most people were pretty unaware, and the facial expressions were pretty clear, “is this dude completely cray-cray ? Careful, he might try and bite us!”
I don’t think the surge of awareness happened until more into the South Coast. Word of mouth was spreading a bit, and Brisbane had been pretty aware thanks to all my practice walks, but at this point there were a lot of curious and uncertain looks. My big samurai banner told it’s own story though, so I think most people could tell I was pretty harmless.
What happened at North Haven was, I noticed a bakery and thought “If I don’t get a proper breakfast, Lynette Hall (who was on my back daily about eating right, haha, Captain Australia’s BIG WALK unofficial mum) would have stern words with me.
So I stopped and bought some food – pie, apple turnover, electrolyte drink.
As I was paying, this lady followed me inside, tapped me on the shoulder and leaned over the counter saying “please let me pay for his food”
I think she’d seen the flag, had a read of the details and was a little bit amazed. I loved the fact that my Quest was inspiring, and although my natural impulse would always have been “oh that’s lovely but no thank you”, I’d learned.
I was getting better in more ways than one.
I smiled, I looked her in the eye, and I said “thank you so much for that tremendous kindness. I’m so moved by your kindness, I’m very grateful, thank you”
Stopped on a park bench and gave a livestream update before gobbling down the food (actually couldnt finish the apple turnover)
Haha, in the stream, because I was “Captain Pinkbeard” I kept falling into pirate speech.
Haha, I just re-watched this “I be Captain Pinkbeard, ye want to see me magnificent booty ? I be needing ye credit card thank ye very much!” (I dont know whats wrong with me, can’t afford a therapist)
I was making good time, feeling good, the world loved me and I loved the world. So after a bit of an eat and a little rest, I gathered my gear and moved on. I was skirting a big lake, swinging around to Laurieton, after which I would dive straight into National Park and cut along the coast down into Harrington.
I have to make it clear how gorgeous our country is, and continuously healing my trek through it was. There were ugly bits, sure, but being immersed in places like this was kind of like a child walking through WIlly Wonka’s factory – just .. look left “beautiful” .. look right “amazing!” .. look over there “gorgeous!”
This has a way of training you, orienting you toward joy and light. It’s tremendously helpful after a time of sorrow, of darkness, same-ness, pain and hopelessness.
On the subject of joys, check this bloke out. His name is Aaron and I first met him just south of Port Macquarie, and was so sad that I was too shy to ask for a photo.
We collided again near Laurieton – this lovely old school, true blue Aussie gentleman had brought me some icy cold water, and I still carry his wisdom and words of encouragement in my heart.
Just another example of the joy and teaching that’s out there in the world for us.
Not far past town, things went a bit ‘bush’ .. roads getting less used, no shoulder, and more lush natural beauty to embrace me.
A long and lovely stretch of walk, slightly touched by the feeling of being ‘under the pump’ and needing to get to the caravan park before dark.
That was a good thing actually, without it I probably would have given up 10km out of Harrington and camped in the bush, but it helped me find my own fortitude and push forward.
It was a gorgeous stretch of country, but completely remote.
At first I’d see the occasional 4WD or campervan, but once I got past the popular fishing/beach spots there was basically zero human contact. Little sandy tracks, then long stretches of road with no cars, or one every hour or so.
There’s something about being ‘out in it’ it’s really just you and the sky. If you need a reckoning with your creator, if you need to reconcile some things that have happened in your life, if you need to unpack grief or feelings you’ve been unable or unwilling to face – that kind of natural beauty and solitude is just the perfect combination for it.
No need to dress up as an out-of-work, homebrand superhero – that’s my quirk.
Absolutely no service for a long time, but I did try and record what I was feeling in a little video, explaining the old Hebrew proverb “save but one life and you save the world entire“, and how I felt my Quest was tied to that.
Even if I were only able to help one person (maybe a kid like Archer), it made my Quest worthwhile. Even my own cancer and past suffering.
I was beginning to realise that we’d already succeeded in that. Because the life we were saving was mine.
think there’s potential great and deep beauty in us .. human beings I mean .. but so much of what we do is selfish, vapid, ugly. The way we argue instead of building consensus, elevate ourselves by cutting down others – the exploitation, greed and selfishness in our “best and wealthiest”, our paranoia and distrust.
But I believe in my secret heart of hearts that the good is why we’re here. And it’s in all of us. And our job is to feed it, to nurture and polish it, and then show it to each other, use that light to inspire each other.
I made it to Harrington, had a good old rest. Their grocery store had shut down, sadly, but the chinese restaurant was still open, so I was able to get some food and drink, and fall into a deep, dreamless sleep.