Itinerary for the BIG WALK, 26.12.21 (Part 2 Sydney to Melbourne)
Beautiful people. Below you’ll see a breakdown of my BIG WALK, where I plan out each leg of the overall journey. If you click on any given leg, it will expand, show you a map of my planned route, and comments from me about my thoughts and plans for that part of the long long walk.
Please note: each leg has a contact form. If your home or place of business is on the route, and/or if you’d like to join me for a part of my walk, drop your info and I’ll be in touch.
I’d also love to meet up with interesting characters on my walk, people with stories. It doesn’t have to be about cancer, although I love the theme of ‘coming alive’ and ‘hope, no matter how dark things get’
ALSO: later, I will upload some POSTERS you could put up to promote the BIG WALK. If you have a fish and chip shop in a beach town along the way, I’d be so grateful if you could print it out and pop it in your shop window. You’ll be helping The Kids’ Cancer Project, and good karma will no doubt follow you.
LEG ONE (26 DECEMBER): Brisbane to the Gold Coast
This is the day I set out on my Quest. If you live in Brisbane, I would love it if you were to come out and see me off. What I’d absolutely love is if you would join me for at least a little bit of the walk. What I would completely adore is if you’d do it dressed in some kind of superhero costume.
I will set out from the King George Square (CBD) at 10:30am on Boxing Day morning (my birthday!). Fair weather or foul, I will walk through southbank, and then head southeast until I leave the Greater Brisbane area.
I will plan to follow the Pacific Motorway, or rather the secondary roads that run alongside it.
If you want to join me, we could break the walk into a series of 10-15km marches, with a half hour break in-between. Plenty of time to chat and get to know one another. You could abandon at any old time, even if I just had you with me for the first 5km or the bit through South Bank it would be a tremendous honour, and warm my heart before the cold and lonely times ahead.
It will be a great adventure, but sleeping alone in pitch darkness, under a bridge, it can also be rough. When I did it as a child, I woke one morning under a bridge near Ballina, and a massive carpet snake was right next to me !
I figure on a possible short sleep around Dreamworld. My default plan will be 15km walk, 30-60 minute break, 5 intervals of that spread over the next 24 hours. I probably will not sleep and push through, arriving in the GC in mid morning Monday 27th December.
If I had people with me, it would be much more relaxed, but alone my goal will be to press toward Dreamworld and get there probably about midnight, rest for 5 or 6 hours, and then press forward into the Gold Coast, arriving mid-morning on the 27th and spending the day there, enjoying the people and the sight of the ocean.
Across the day, I’d push south, planning to be somewhere toward the state border at night-time (and do a big ‘catch up’ sleep, hopefully the first 10 hour sleep I’ve had since cancer hit me, a sign of the healing and reversal that is to come)
If you’re up to sign on for this leg, or if your home or place of business is on the path and you’d like me to pop in for a visit, please drop your info into the form below and I’ll be in touch.
LEG TWO (28 DECEMBER): Gold Coast to Byron Bay (est 27.12.21)
This is where the BIG WALK starts in earnest. I’ll leave the greater Gold Coast area (probably on the morning of 28.12.21). I figure I’ll take my time and enjoy this first part of the journey. There’s some wonderful beaches, and I’ve always taken great spiritual nourishment from being near the ocean.
After Coolangatta, Tweed Heads, I’ll travel along the coastline through Kingscliff, Cabarita Beach, Pottsville, Brunswick Heads and into Byron Bay.
(If you live or work in any of these places and would like to do a karaoke night, or have me host a birthday party or any old thing really, complete the form below. Ideally I’d ask that you show your support and make a donation, but the BIG WALK is also about finding and sharing joy, and that doesn’t come with a price tag)
This walk will be slow going, because for much of it I’ll have the military boots off and be walking along the beach, feet in water. It’s about 100km, I figure it would shake out something like this:
27.12: tired but excited after a 24 hour walk getting out of Brisbane. Wander the Gold Coast, ambling through the city.
28.12 press forward about 50k, figure on sleeping somewhere around Pottsville or Brunswick Heads. I’ll probably feel a bit wiped out after the heavy start, this is where I’ll need to dig in and push through, establish a rhythm.
29.12 early start (I’ll send you some gorgeous pics of the beach sunrise), follow a glorious stretch of beach into Byron Bay. Spend the day there. Possibly at the pub.
Who am I kidding ? DEFINITELY at the pub.
Realistically it may take me all day to get into Byron, walking along the beach is slow going. I’d plan to be in Byron Bay on the night of 29 December either way. A meal and some beers, maybe I can organise a charity karaoke night or something.
I’ve been an occasional visitor to Byron ever since my original BIG WALK more than 30 years ago, I hope to find some local business or venue that might host me, help me find some ways to promote the charity. I spend a little time there, and move on in the late evening, finding a discreet place to cop a quick 6 hours or so once I’m outside town.
LEG THREE (29 DECEMBER): Byron Bay to Ballina
This will be a relatively short and pleasant leg through some lovely beach towns.
As I start to map this out, I find myself with the impulse to keep moving. It’s almost as if here, in my home, planning – I know that every step forward will be a step toward reuniting with my wife and little boys.
I’m sure on the road, I’ll feel that way – but the original idea behind my BIG WALK was healing. It’s seeking a spiritual outcome. It’s following a Quest. It’s walking toward hope and away from cancer.
I have to be wary not to rush that – so if you’re looking at the itinerary please be aware that as I meet people, or see beautiful places, I may deliberately ‘take a walk down the garden path’.
So I’ll leave Byron Bay, and I have myself doing that on 30 December, but I have to wonder if that’s not a bit crazy. Yes, it’s doable, but it’s a lot of aggressive walking – no stopping to smell the coffee .. or the roses .. or the ocean, if you prefer.
So let’s say 29th I’m in Byron Bay and I’ve spent the hot day there, cooling myself with beer and a pub ceiling fan. Like some old Knight or Pilgrim, I may even get hospitality from the locals, and be offered a safe and comfortable place to sleep. If a stranger offers, I think it’s OK to accept it, in the spirit of my BIG WALK. But no hotels, none of that. Sleeping rough by default.
So I figure on sleeping in bushland south of Byron Bay, and on the 30th walking down to Ballina. It’s just a 30k hike, so I do 15 at dawn and 15 in the evening, hanging out at Broken Head and Lennox Head along the way.
It should be very pleasant, and again along the sand, maybe slow going. On dirt or bitumen road I’ll average 5kph, on the beach it may be half that – I won’t know until I’m underway.
I figure on dinner in Ballina, and it’s a lovely town, maybe I can line up some kind of event in support of the charity. I’ll start reaching out in October/November. If they have a surf lifesaving club or an RSL, and if the public are interested in supporting my Quest, maybe I could host bingo or some karaoke or something, and we could have some laughs and raise some money for The Kids’ Cancer Project. So I’d be there in the afternoon and evening of 30 December
I figure on sleeping somewhere in the environs of Ballina, likely bushland outside town or under a bridge somewhere. At dawn on the 31st of December (or thereabouts if I get caught up in more activities), I continue south. The turn of the year will be imminent, and for me, with my BIG WALK well and truly underway, it will signify hope and rebirth after a time of suffering and darkness.
Cap says: sorry the formating changes here, can’t afford the pro version of WordPress, that has easy-to-use plugins, and can’t figure out the problem in the code (I’m basically a monkey that taught himself to read)
LEG FOUR (31 DECEMBER): Ballina to Grafton
If I weren’t doing this as “Captain Australia’s BIG WALK” (For The Kids’ Cancer Project) and it were just me, not sharing it, doing my own thing quietly – this would be a turning point, because after Grafton I’d be sorely tempted to turn inland and take in a more rural, country, bush-town route through much of New South Wales. Pass through Tamworth, visit some beautiful (and no doubt friendly, even to a boofhead like me) inland towns.
Thing is, for the BIG WALK, I think I need to stick largely to the coastline. It’s where the people are, plus that elemental power of the ocean, that relentless, surging thing and yet also serene, soothing. Going secretly into the bush is no good when you’re trying to raise money and awareness for charity. I may change these plans as the dates get closer, or if my heart calls to me. But for now, after Grafton the plan is Coffs Harbour, Port Macquarie, Sydney and onward.
So it’s new years eve, and I wake up somewhere around Ballina.
When I did my BIG WALK as a child, I slept under a bridge near Ballina. Or I might have it mixed up with Byron Bay, it was years ago. If memory serves me right, I rested outside Byron Bay under a rail bridge, and discovered a tick burrowed in around my public hair. Had to pry it out with a “Rambo” knife that I had. Gross and painful. In Ballina I slept under a bridge and woke up with a large carpet snake curled up against my back. Screamed and bolted out of there, haha, probably the worst thing I could do, as the snake was likely just warming itself against my like I was a rock heated in the sun. (I had no idea snakes did that ?! Snakes cuddle ?!)
So, 31 December, I leave Ballina and pass through some beautiful country on the way to Grafton. I’ve had to completely re-think this part of the walk, as none of the coastal walkways have bridges with pedestrian access, so I’ve decided to turn inland and go through some beautiful forest.
This should be a beautiful and nourishing part of the walk. I’ll feel alone, and no doubt be lonely, missing my family.
But they’ll be with me. Anybody who wants to share in the experience will be with me, little angels riding on my shoulder.
I’m trying to get good at the Facebook Streams (@CapsBIGWALK) for just that reason, to make sure I can share in some of this beautiful country, and the adventure & experience of the walk.
Plan is Ballina to Woodburn (about 40km), arrive in the afternoon if possible, so I can stock up on food and water. Continue another 10km or so and sleep in bushland. Would be in the middle of nowhere to see the new year in (although maybe Woodburn would have some kind of event I could visit).
Following Day (1 January) head to a small corner of road called Whiporie – about 50km through forest and national parkland, it should be lovely. Sleep somewhere thereabouts, and continue down to Grafton on January 2, sleeping outside the city somewhere (after another 50km hike).
I figure on rolling into Grafton on the morning of January 3.
LEG FIVE (4 JANUARY): Grafton to Coffs Harbour
This will be a lovely bushland walk, stretched over 2 days (about 40km per day).
This should be a very peaceful part of the walk, I don’t expect many heavy trucks, just nice country towns and locals going about their business. I should have long stretches of walking with nothing but the sky, my boots and my thoughts (hopefully with some tree canopy to shade the worst of the sun).
I figure on starting out from Grafton (or that area) on 4 January, and sleeping at about the halfway point, in rough bush, maybe a bit outside a small town called Glenreigh. I see it has a bakery, so I might amble in there for breakfast.
I’ll need to carry a reasonable amount of water, and since I’m away from the ocean, I’ll need to be mindful that when I enter town I’ll be a bit sweaty and gross.
Need to be respectful of people when supplying up.
Maybe there’ll be a river or somewhere that I can soak my clothes in, hang them to dry in the noonday sun, will just have to play it by ear.
So I figure on Glenreigh morning January 5, and sleeping on the far outskirts of Coffs Harbour that night. Roll into Coffs on the morning of January 6.
I’ve always liked Coffs Harbour, it’ll be nice to stop at the BIG BANANA again, hang out at the beach in the hottest part of the day.
I reckon since it’s so large now, I might be able to swing some kind of event for the charity – will look into that November/December.
So I’d expect all day and evening at Coffs, moving on the morning of January 7, if I’m on schedule.
LEG SIX (7 JANUARY): Coffs Harbour to Port Macquarie
All told, this is going to be 180km or more, on foot. And I’m working with some sketchy information, so I’ll need to be flexible and ready to adapt on this part of the BIG WALK.
So on the morning of January 7th it’s surface roads south to Raleigh. That’s about 30km, I figure on arriving lunchtime or early afternoon.
Another ten or so down the road and I’m back on beach (Valla Beach to be specific). Let’s say I sleep somewhere around there.
So on the morning of 8 January, I’m in Nambucca Heads, Probably have breakfast there, not too much need to carry food and water for this phase.
Pass through Macksville around lunchtime and then onward down to Grassy Head, where I’ll find a place to sleep, maybe near Stuart’s Point.
The next bit has me head down to Kempsey, that’s about 50k, on the 9th of January, sleeping somewhere therabouts and pressing forward for Port Macquarie on the 10th, another 50km or so.
I figure on sleeping outside Port Macquarie and pressing into town on the morning of 11 January.
Port Macquarie is one of the places where I think it’s OK to use a ferry to cross a big river. I can’t see any viable nearby crossings without a major detour, and they have a convenient ferry at North Short Drive.
LEG SEVEN (11 JANUARY): Port Macquarie to Newcastle
At this point, I should well and truly have found my stride. This leg is something like 200km+ in total, but for the most part it’s a series of beach towns and cities.
Google Maps wants me to walk down the Pacific Highway, which would be unsound, unsafe and inconsistent with my goals. So let’s say I spend the morning of 11 January hanging around Port Macquarie and set out after lunch, following beach and coastal roads.
I might take it easy for a couple of days here – set a goal of about 35km per day. The next 2 days are ambling through beach towns and roads until I hit Harrington and an obstacle in the Manning River (which I’m hoping I can ask a local boat to help me across, otherwise it’s a big diversion and a stretch along the Pacific Highway. Have to play this bit by ear, but lets say I arrive Harrington on the afternoon of 13 January.
So on the morning of 14 January, I commence a long walk to Newcastle. At least 160km, which I figure on breaking into 40km walks spread over 4 days. If I go hard, I might be able to do it in 3, but I want to leave time to enjoy the beaches, the towns, meet people, ideally.
I’ll visit the Sugarloaf Point lighthouse, and by my reckoning will be sleeping somewhere in bush north of the Karuah River on the night of 17 January before pressing into Newcastle the following day.
On the 18th, I will hop a ferry from Hawks Nest over to Nelson Bay and then it’s a hop, skip & jump to Newcastle.
Actually, whoops, looks like that on the map, but it’s actually 50km, ending with a ferry across the Hunter River into Newcastle Proper.
So by my reckoning, 19th is spent walking that last bit, sleep somewhere outside Newcastle, and ferry across in the morning. So I have myself arriving in Newcastle 20 January.
From that point we’re about 150km into Sydney.
LEG EIGHT (20 JANUARY): Newcastle to Sydney
I figure I’ll start to give myself a bit of latitude on timing. A day to get through Newcastle, maybe see if I can get involved in some local events, raise some support for the charity.
So I figure the 20th in/around Newcastle, and a rough sleep in bush south of town, like the Glenrock nature area.
21 January I press forward on this final leg to Sydney, which I see as the spiritual half-way mark, even if it’s not quite that in terms of distance..
I reckon 22 January, I’ve slept last night somewhere around Norah Head, and will spend the day walking south, with a plan to sleep somewhere around Boudi National Park.
23 January I wake and head to Ettalong Beach, where I’ll need to ride a ferry across Broken Bay and start to get in toward Sydney proper. The distance is deceptive, it’s still 50km into the CBD, so I figure on sleeping somewhere in the northern outskirts, possibly a bushy area near Manly called “North Harbor Reserve”
Wake 24 January, and cross the Harbour Bridge into Sydney, where I’ll give myself the whole day and night, sleep rough somewhere in the city. I hope to have some kind of event, support, something going on, but if not, I’ll just wander the city and meet people, continuing south on the 25th. I reckon that night of the 25th I’ll aim for a rough sleep somewhere around Southgate or Kirrawee. Actually, for a personal reason I will try and stop at MENAI, somebody I’d like to meet.
LEG NINE (26 JANUARY): Sydney to Bateman’s Bay
In the interests of getting an itinerary and rough timeline up, I’m going to get a bit sketchy now.
I want to avoid the Princess Highway / any highway, as much as possible. Problem is there’s no guarantee of secondary roads alongside it, so much of the walk will follow the coastline wherever possible.
Heading south from Sydney on the 26th of January, this next leg through to Bateman’s Bay has me doing that, over a 320km (approx) stretch.
There’ll be waterways where I’m not sure I can cross without detour (or hoping to parlay a ride in a local’s boat), challenges that I will need to adapt to as I go along.
I figure this leg will be done in about 8 days, with 40km hikes per day, and a lot of give-or-take based on detours and side-tracks. The only big thing for me is to make sure I hit Ulladulla (which would be on the 1st or 2nd of February), because I owe a guy a few beers.
So rough sleeps in-between, with this leg executed over the 26th to 2 February (where I’ll sleep around Bateman’s Bay and continue on the 3rd.