Coolalinga, NT, Australia (2015-08-02 09:47)
The first day walking in Australia is finished and was a nice easy 30 km, half-day effort!
I won’t write a lot today but I just wanted to share a link to a page where you should be able to see the last few days walking, more or less as soon as each day is finished. I’m trying to sort out how it works and as soon as I get a better handle on everything, I will place a permanent link on the blog.
Until then, check it out here: the-walk
Katherine, NT Australia (2015-08-11 07:45)
One and a half weeks of walking is now completed in Australia and I have reached Katherine. I’m going to relax here for a day or two while I wait for Mattia to catch up to me. He’s two days behind me and should be here before long.
It was great to be reunited with the Mule. It’s almost surprising how well it works and how much it can carry. The coming two months are going to be the hardest trial so far and I expect to have to be forced to carry 30 litres of water on some of the more desolate stretches of road. I have no doubt at all that the Mule will prove to be as reliable as ever!
In fact, having the Mule with me again is just one of the things that make me feel that everything is right on track!
There is some very heavy traffic on the roads leading out of Darwin and it is often a very good idea to move off the road and leave plenty of room, especially for the road trains.
The drive-through bottle shop is a very Australian feature and there were several on the road heading out of Darwin. I did not really have any room on the Mule for a carton of beer but did stop in at Noonamah to buy a cold soft drink.
I was very lucky to find a straw, sun-hat on the side of the road. It might not be the most fashionable hat I have ever owned, but the very wide brim does an excellent job of providing shade. The only problem is that it is slightly too large for me and the passing road trains all try to blow it off my head. I had to chase it down the road several times already…
Close to the end of the second day, at the intersection of Old Bynoe Rd and Stuart Hwy, I was surprised to find two people sitting in sun chairs, with parasols and a large esky (Australian for icebox) in front of them. They called me over and I sat down and had a drink and a chat with them. They were Anthony and Gabby who were there to honour the memory of a policeman who was shot and died on that spot sixteen years ago. Anthony was there when it happened and felt that he owed his life to the courage of Sgt Huitson and has been there on every anniversary since then. His girlfriend Gabby has been with him for the last six years.
Anthony got pretty choked up when he told me the story and I have no doubt that he will continue to honour the day as long as he can.
I wish the mangoes were in season… Love mangoes!
I have been using my hammock to sleep in, with the mosquito net I bought for it in Bali.
The surprising thing is that it has proven to be almost too cold at night! I move around a lot when I sleep and have been a bit suspicious about trying to sleep a full night in the hammock, but that seems to work alright. It is odd to try to change sleeping positions but it is possible and easier than I thought.
On the stretch before Adelaide River, a car stopped on the shoulder 200 or 300 meters ahead of me. The driver then got out, waved at me and placed something on the road, jumped back in the car and took off again. As he passed me he waved gladly and sped by. When I reached the spot where he had stopped, I found a small pile of coins! A road gift.
I stopped for the night at Adelaide River and enjoyed a few very cool and welcome beers in the .303 Bar.
I have met and talked to a lot of people during the week but while I was walking from Adelaide River, the first Swede pulled over to say hello. Johannes had seen me on the side of the road and stopped to see if I was Swedish.
As I said, I have met a lot of nice people. At one night campsite, I talked to a Dutch couple that was on their way back to Darwin to return their 4wd and head back home after one month of touring NT and WA. They were very kind and shared both wine and morning coffee with me.
There must be something special about Australia when it comes to walking. In the last week or so, I have heard about 5 or six different people either walking through or around the country. Very strange when you consider that I have heard of and met more long-distance walkers this week than during all the rest of my walk combined.
The firsts ones I met were a couple, Ian and Chris Robbins, walking in aid of both prostate and breast cancer. They stopped to make sure I had enough water and was ok. They were headed back down to Katherin after having completed their Darwin walk and from Katherin they were going to continue into Western Australia.
Just after Hayes Creek, I found another fellow on the side of the road. He didn’t say much, but I felt a certain kind of affinity with him (must have been the Viking helmet) and took a selfie with him.
I arrived late in Emerald Springs after having pushed on into the evening but when I arrived there the place was full. After explaining that I was walking and there was no way I was going to make it to Pine Creek that day, I was shown into the building site where they were building some more rooms and told I was welcome to make myself comfortable there. Even had my own swimming pool…
I spent my night at Pine Springs at the Lazy Lizzard Resort and had an easy afternoon waiting for Niall and Dale to show up. I knew they were right behind me and I had sent a message to them that I was at the LL.
I first met them in Singapore on my last night there and it was interesting to sit down and compare notes about their journey. They had more or less gone the same way as Mattia and I but had found a boat that was sailing to Darwin from Indonesia rather than fly.
I had been told about a woman that was walking towards Darwin and Sunday afternoon, just as I was looking for a place to camp for the night, I met her. Terra is walking around Australia to raise awareness for mental illness and raise money for Lifeline. Check out her website here.
It was very interesting to talk to her during the evening about being a long-distance walker and compare experiences.
It’s been an intense week and a half and I have some conflicting emotions. I love being back in Australia and it very much feels like coming home. It’s hard to believe that it was fifteen years since I was here last. Much too long…
But the walking has been surprisingly hard. Well, not that hard but I have had difficulty increasing the daily distance covered due to some irritating problems with my new thongs (flip-flops). Blisters and sore feet was something that I was hoping that I would have overcome after 15,000 km of walking. But new shoes always seem to bring back the same problems and I never seem to find good thongs when I need them.
Yesterday I stepped on something long and sharp that went up through my thongs and into my foot. Did not think much of it at the time, sure it hurt, but not that much. But this morning, when I woke up the sole of my left foot was very tender. After having a closer look, I found that there seemed to be a part of something embedded deep under the skin and it was causing inflammation. I had to get out the knife and dig into the sole of my foot to finally find the tiny tip of a small stick that was lodged there. It took a while to get it out even after I found it because it had been pushed rather deep.
It’s lucky that I am having a rest day while I am waiting for Mattia, the swelling should go down quickly now that the wound is clean. It’s only a tiny little wound so it is nothing to worry about as long as the inflammation goes away.
So a day, or possibly two if Mattia takes his time, and then it will be time to head out south again.
Despite what I just wrote, I am really looking forward to it. Keep walking!
Larrimah, NT Australia (2015-08-17 08:43)
Another 4,5 days walking are now done and we have reached Larrimah, almost 500 km from Darwin and more or less halfway to Three Ways. We left Katherine with some fresh supplies from Woolworths, knowing that we would have to survive on what we carried with us. There are roadhouses along the way but the variety of goods on offer is not excessive!
So lunch was served on the Mule, reminding me of many a lunch in France. Fresh bread and Brie cheese..
As the evening was settling in on the first day, a car pulled over and asked if we wanted a lift. We explained that we wanted to walk, something that I have had to do a lot during the-walk, and were offered a couple of beers instead. They tasted excellent after a long day!
The roads are definitely starting to get longer and straighter, stretching on into infinity for what seems to be forever. Approaching cars appear as tiny dots and slowly, slowly increase in size before they finally pass. Thankfully the traffic has lessened and it is quite relaxing to just walk along looking at Kangaroos, Black Cockatoos, Rosellas, Galahs and Dove Tailed Eagles.
It seems that it is a local pastime to dress up termite stacks in clothes and there are lots of them. I even managed to find a Termite Bride… I tried to tell her about the lonely Viking I had seen earlier but she seemed to be pretty “wedded” to staying where she was.
Mataranka was the first place where we could get some food and we pigged out on a full English breakfast for lunch. With 2 large cups of coffee.
There are lots of travellers on the road and we had an interesting chat with a lady headed towards Sydney. Unfortunately, she only had 3 weeks left before she had to fly home to start working…
Day 4 started with Mattia having to repair a flat tire. I love my Greentires!
As if that was not enough, the new tube exploded together with a brand new tire. We suspect that there must have been a manufacturing fault in the tire as it was a new one that Mattia put on in Darwin just so that he would have new, reliable tires for the journey through the outback.
We did a strange repair with race tape, straps and whatever else we could find, hoping it would be enough to get us to Larrimah where we could find a more permanent solution. A few hours later the temporary repair proved just how temporary it really was.
Not to worry though, the Mule came to the rescue. As always, what a reliable, solid little walking companion! (I’m laying on a bit thick in the hope that it will inspire the Mule to continue as faultlessly as earlier!)
I wrote during the original planning of the Mule II that I thought that it would be possible to keep walking with it even if one of its wheels broke. Just redistribute the load so that there was no weight on one of the front wheels and continue. It turned out that Mattias cart had the same size axles on its rear wheels, so I took a wheel from the Mule and put it on his cart.
It looks strange and lopsided with 2 different sized rear wheels, but it works and rolls more or less perfectly!
The last 40 km into Larrimah we were pushing 2 strange looking carts. One missing a wheel, and one tilting noticeably to the side. But it worked perfectly and we arrived early in the morning of our 5th day out of Katherine. Just in time, as it proved, for Mattia to hop on the bus to go back to Katherine and buy a new tire. Which left me watching our gear with nothing much to do apart from enjoying a beer!
A lot of travellers stop for a rest and/or drink in Larrimah and this morning we were a mixed bunch.
An Irish girl on a motorcycle, a Japanese guy on a bicycle, me pushing the Mule and an Australian man and his dog riding around the country on an electric trike. You have to love Australia, all the eccentrics seem to!
I just got word that Mattia has found a new tire in Katherine and will return on the evening bus, so we will be able to repair his cart tonight, get the Mule back on 4 wheels and be ready for some more serious walking tomorrow!
Tennant Creek, NT, Australia (2015-09-05 03:00)
The walk from Larrimah to Tennant Creek proved to be interesting. We met a lot of helpful people, told our story a number of times and at the same time spent plenty of time out in what felt like the wilderness.
One thing that I was not expecting was rain! We managed to get rained on 3 nights and one almost full day. With the wind, it was almost a bit cold. Lucky that we both had rain ponchos with us, it’s the sort of equipment I was not expecting to need this time of year in the Northern Territory.
The first sign of rain was late one afternoon as we were heading in towards Banka Banka. We had planned to camp somewhere on the side of the road and head into Banka Banka the next day, just in time for lunch. As it was we hurried to pitch our tents as what looked like a rainstorm was quickly catching up to us from the north. I thought it would only be a short rainstorm, quickly clearing away to the usual blue skies, but I was very wrong. I spent most of the night listening to the rain drum on the tent and also to the sounds of Mattia readjusting and changing things on his tent. I didn’t know it at the time, but Mattia had some major problems and managed to get the floor of his tent wet and spent the night without sleep.
The next morning Mattia was very tired and we had a short day, just walking into Banka Banka and spending the day doing some laundry and drying all our stuff. My original plan was to get some good food in Banka Banka but it turned out that they only sold beer and wine, no food at all!
In fact, I have found that the roadhouses have a very limited supply of food to buy, apart from what they serve, which forced me to change a few plans. When we got to Three Ways I realized that I would have to walk down to Tennant Creek to resupply, there was nothing at Three Ways and if there was anything, it was very expensive!
So, an extra 25 k down to Tennant Creek and then back again…
It was an easy walk from Three Ways and we arrived midday and spent the afternoon at the local supermarket stocking up on everything. I had to have at least enough food for 5 days in order to reach Barkly Homestead and it would not hurt to have even more as I did not know what would be available there.
Mattia and I will split up here in Tennant Creek, he is continuing south and I will head back to Three Ways and turn east. We have more or less been walking together since Jakarta so it will be a change.
It also marks the start of what I expect to be the most desolate part of my Australian walk. Just the first part to Barkly is 190 km without anything. Followed by 260 km of nothing…
The only way to get it done is to keep walking!
And yeah, there have been a lot of flies!
Barkly Homestead, NT, Australia (2015-09-07 06:58)
Woke up this morning not having decided if I was going to start on my trek to the Pacific or if I was going to have a rest day. But the lack of any functioning wi-fi made the decision easy.
I really need to update the blog, but it will just have to wait until I get access to a connection that is not as slow as molasses…
That also meant that Mattia and I would be splitting up.
We had a breakfast of bacon and egg sandwiches and coffee at the BP stationed then it was time to go. A few shots of the carts facing in different directions, words of goodbye and off we went. He south and me north, at least until I reached Three Ways and could turn east.
The Mule was heavy, loaded with food for at least a week and about 25 litres of water. But the road is flat and it rolls easily once it gets started.
Walking back the way I had come felt wrong, but at the same time, I was glad to be on my way and finally getting to start my eastward journey, even if I would not be turning east until later in the afternoon.
10 km on I stopped and had a rest at the Tennant Creek crossing. There was water dripping from the Mule…
One of my water bags had started leaking! It’s just a cheap inner liner from a 10-litre box of water I bought in Katherine that I have been reusing. It’s a great bag but intended for one use and I am probably on my 5th refill and am using it without any protective cover. It’s a wonder it has lasted this long!
I managed to ”fix” it with some duct tape. What a wonderful product that is, don’t know how anyone could survive without it. It still leaks just a tiny little bit, but I am now being much more careful with it and will empty it first so everything should work out just fine.
I arrived at Three Ways a bit before 1 pm and had a very expensive steak sandwich with chips. Everything here in Australia is expensive! Money just seems to disappear almost as quickly as I can get it out of the ATM.
I bought a large bottle of coke for tomorrow and a small bottle of cold Solo for now and it was finally time to head east.
It felt great. Well rested, taking my time and enjoying it.
It’s 188 km to Barkly Homestead which is the first place I will be able to get water. Should not be a problem as I have been using about 5 litres a day and have almost 25 on the Mule, plus 2 litres of Coke.
It was hot heading out on the Barkly Hwy but not oppressive. Not like Texas last summer.
I walked along, had a few drink breaks, moved well out of the way of the Road Trains and by the time it was getting close to 6 pm I was next to a gravel pit that my WikiCamp app suggested was a great spot to stop for the night.
I walked down the road and came upon two large campervans already parked there. They belonged to two elderly couples from Tasmania who were also heading east. I stopped for a chat and answered the usual questions. A very kind gentleman offered me a cold beer and I gratefully accepted.
Then it was time to pitch the tent. The sky was clear and I hope to have seen the last of the rain but put the fly on the inner tent anyway. It makes the tent warmer and that is needed as the nights have been cold. Down to 9 degrees, some nights and my sleeping bag is rated at 15 degrees. So I end up wearing my woollen long johns….
Spent most of the day listening to The Martian and when that finished I started on Dune again. Both titles feel like they are just right for the scenery.
I am not having any dinner tonight, just some snacks while I type this. I’m still full from both a large breakfast and lunch.
It’s starting to get properly dark now and I and going to finish, put the computer away and spend some time looking at the stars. There really is nothing like the star sky out here in the Outback, it totally blows you away.
Then I will crawl into my tiny tent, get some sleep and be ready to start walking again as soon as it’s light again tomorrow.
The morning started cool but beautiful. Nice sunrise and a fresh, slightly cold atmosphere, perfect to start walking in.
I packed quickly and headed off, I like to start quickly and stop for breakfast after a little while when I have woken up properly.
15 km down the road, I stopped at a repeater tower for breakfast. Muesli and canned fruit. Then onwards…
The roads are straight and it is just a matter of taking one step at a time and slowly making progress.
First lunch was at a water pump set up just slightly off the road. Tuna and crisp bread.
The day was starting to get really hot, but there was a wind blowing that helped keep the temperature down. The only problem was that it was more or less blowing straight against me. Don’t know which is worse, the heat without the wind or the headwind.
Another 10 km and it was time to stop for lunch number 2. This time I went for spaghetti, with extra cheese!
As I sat eating, a small truck pulled up and asked if I wanted a lift. I explained and thank them for the offer. The guy asked if I was heading past Barkly Homestead and warned me that there were some ”pretty bad people” hanging around in the bush about 20 km past Barkly. Apparently, they had been robbing people and I should be careful.
As I started walking again, the wind changed direction and I found myself with a nice cooling tailwind as the temperature dropped during the afternoon. Nice!
45 km felt like enough for the day and when I reached a gravel pit opposite a repeater tower I decided to call it a day.
It was a nice place to camp and the evening was quiet and peaceful. I set up camp, cleaned myself a bit and had some snacks. I should really have tried to write something in the journal, but I was not at all in the mood. I sat enjoying the peace and a beautiful sunset then crawled into the tent and tried to read. Didn’t get too many pages before I fell asleep.
I wrote this during my breakfast stop the next morning, feeling that I really had to try to make a habit of journaling, every day if possible. It is something that I have tried to do a few times before during my life but have never really succeeded at. Strange as I have always had a vague notion that I would like to be a writer someday and the only way to practice writing is to write….
Day 3 and 4
I woke on day 3 and was surprised that it was not very cold. I did not even have my woollen underwear on. As I crawled out of the tent I got my answer, the sky was overcast and it remained that way most of the day. Nice for walking as it kept the temperature down.
The first 15 km were easy, to a rest stop where I could sit at a table and enjoy my muesli and fruit. Not only that, there was plenty of water in the water tank and I was able to fill up my supplies. I have plenty of water to reach Barkly Homestead now, can even ”waste” some on a bit of a wash!
From then on it started to get harder. I just wasn’t feeling that great. A bit lethargic and slow. I think it’s due to the total lack of coffee and it’s probably going to take me a day or two to get over it. I haven’t been drinking a lot of coffee lately but have been able to get at least one cup each day. Now, it’s no cups per day…
The wind also started up and blew against me for the remainder of the morning. I was glad later in the afternoon when it slowly changed directions into a helping breeze instead.
Late in the afternoon a couple in a caravan slowed down, turned around and stopped to check that I was ok. I explained what I was doing and they offered me some nice, cold water. It’s hard to explain just how nice cold water is when you are out walking in the heat all day.
I set off again, but it was a hard day. I had planned to cover at least 45 km but by the time I had gone 40 km, I knew that was enough for the day. I found a small access road of the highway and set up the tent, had a wash and gratefully crawled inside to rest my legs.
The morning of day 4 was colder. The sky was clear and I had needed both my woollens and my sleeping bag during the night. I packed and set off quickly, intending to get 10 km done before breakfast. The problem was the wind. Almost straight away a headwind started blowing that made it seem like I was walking uphill all the time. After just 7 km I had had enough and stopped for breakfast. Muesli and fruit….
The rest of the day was a long slog against the wind, a gusty and strong headwind. Surprisingly I have still managed to get some mileage done and as I write this I have walked 34 km and am having lunch no 2 at a rest stop. It’s nice being able to sit at a proper table!
It’s only 3 pm and I should be able to do another 10 km today without major problems. That will leave me with around 45 km left to walk tomorrow to Barkly Homestead.
I’ll have a bit of a rest here for a while and then set off to do the last bit of the day.
I walked almost 16 km before a found a place to pitch the tent on day 4. I had to work my way through some thick grass to find it but managed to find a spot a little ways from the road that was perfect.
The night was a cold again so it was on with the woolies!
I walked about 8 km after packing up in the morning and had breakfast, the last of the muesli and fruit. If I can’t get some more in Barkly then breakfast from now on will have to be peanut butter and jam wraps. I can live with that!
The headwind started again after breakfast and the rest of the day was a matter of one step after another with all of them feeling like they were uphill. Lucky that I only had about 43 km to go.
30 Km from Barkley I caught up to a road train that was parked on the side of the road. I stopped and had a chat and found out that the driver thought the turbo was broken. He had a sudden loss of power and was trying to find the problem. After consulting with people on the phone (the truck had a satellite phone) it was decided that he should try to make it Barkley and wait for help. He was disappointed that the truck had broken down, it should not happen, it was only 18 months old ( but had already got 600,000 km on the clock!)
I continued on, taking it easy but making good time and by 5 pm I was in Barkley. I got a room for 2 nights, having a rest day tomorrow, had a shower and then had my first cooked, warm meal for 4 days.
Surprisingly it was difficult to sleep. The bed was too soft and there was a fair bit of noise from other campers and the bar. Guess I have gotten used to my hard sleeping pad and the quietness of the outback!
So the plan is to have a rest day, do some laundry and check that I have food and water for the next stretch. Barkly to Camooweal is at least 260 km and there is nothing in between. It should take me 6 -7 days and I will be needing to carry at least 30 litres of water. But this is the reason I built the Mule and I have no worries that it won’t be up to the task. This should also be the longest stretch that I walk without being able to get supplies so after this it all just gets easier!
Camooweal, NT, Australia (2015-09-12 03:38)
Barkly Homestead to Camooweal
Tried to get an early start on the first day of what will probably be the most desolate stretch of my walk in Australia, probably of the whole walk itself, but by the time I had filled all my water containers, packed the Mule, bought fresh sandwiches for my 2 lunches and the last cup of freshly brewed coffee for the coming week, it was already 7.30.
The Mule was fully loaded. 32 litres of water, food for a week and everything else, must have weighed close to 80 kg.
You would think that I would be starting out fresh after a day of rest, but all that generally just means is that I haven’t slept well the night before. Not walking does that to you when you are used to doing 40 km a day.
Nevertheless, the day started out fine, with me walking in a new pair of thongs (flip-flops) that I had bought at Barkley. Less than 3 km down the road I had to stop to put on socks as I was already starting to get blisters…. Always the same problem with new shoes, they need to be broken in.
15 km later a couple stopped and offered me some cold water and it was time to stop for my first lunch break.
The day was pretty much cloudless and there was a slight wind blowing. Not enough to make the walking too hard, but still enough to cool me a bit and keep the worst of the flies off my face. The flies can be really bad when you stop!
There was really not much more to the day, I kept walking and before long the sun was setting and I had covered 52 km. A good first day and my feet were not too sore from the new thongs.
Interesting to see what they feel like tomorrow.
I found a small site just off the road behind some scrubs and am going to finish writing now and hit the sack. The sun has gone down and it’s dark. Set the clock for 5 am tomorrow to see if I could walk a bit longer in the cool, calm morning air. Will have to see if I manage to get out of bed that early.
5 am was a bit too early… Just could not motivate myself to leave the warm snugness of my sleeping bag.
I used the snooze button a few times and got up at around 5.30. So I was more or less on my way by a little after 6.
I had wanted to start early to get some walking done before the wind started blowing but today it started almost straight away. It was like walking uphill all the time. It was time for a rest after just 5 km. And then every 5 km after that!
But there was not much else to do if I wanted to get some mileage done and get to Camooweal. I was just going to have to keep walking.
It got a bit better after about 25 km and the rest of the day was easier even though the morning had already tired me out a fair bit.
Almost everybody waves as they pass by and every now and then a car pulls over to check that I am ok. During the last 2 days, I have been given cold water, apples and oranges, cookies and a cold can of coke. All very much welcome and appreciated. People remain kind and helpful here in Australia the way they have in all the countries I have walked to get here.
I struggled on through the afternoon and started looking for a place to camp as the sun started setting. Only found a small, hard, rocky clearing just off the road before it got dark, but that would do just fine.
I had walked 46 km for the day and, considering the wind, that seemed good enough for me.
It was a bit calmer when I pitched the tent but the wind picked up again during the night and I spent most of the night wondering if the tent was going to blow away!
I had changed the alarm to 5.30 and was already awake when it rang. It was windy and gusty and threatening to blow down the tent any minute. It wasn’t easy to pack down without having something blow away, but I managed to get going and was on the road by 6.
Then it was a repeat of the previous day. Walk 5 km into the wind and then have a break. Repeat. I had done 25 km by 1 pm and stopped at a rest stop for lunch, had a bit of a longer break and then headed off into the wind again. It did not look like it was going to get easier during the afternoon like it had yesterday.
It proved to be a hard day. It did get a little bit easier as the day wore on but not much.
Late in the afternoon, 3 girls in a van pulled over to say hello. They had met Mattia below Tennant Creek and knew that I would be somewhere on the road. They asked me if I need anything but I was ok and was only longing for some flavoured drink. So they left me with a can of Sprite that tasted very nice after all the warm water I had been drinking all day.
I had one last visitor, the guy working along the road who stopped to talk to me before I reached Barkley. This was the third time he had stopped and we had a longer chat. Turns out he drives between Darwin and Mt Isa, so he is going to see me a few times yet before I have finished with this stretch. He promised to try to bring me some fresh food and fruit. Looking forward to that!
As the sun was starting to set, I walked past the station at Sudan Bore, over the bridge and turned off the road to find a place to camp. I could not believe the number of flies! There were thousands of them, crawling all over me. It was still quite windy and I chose to set up the hammock between 2 trees rather than try to pitch the tent on the stony ground. It just seemed a lot easier and I still want to get some more sleeping done in the hammock to truly decide what I think about it. I quickly set up the hammock and hid under the fly net until the sun had set and the flies started to disappear before I organized everything. Then sleep…
It had been a cold night and I packed up quickly and started walking to get warm. It was windy like it had been all night, but not really a headwind, more of a crosswind. Much easier to walk in!
I had not got far before a 4wd pulled over and Mark hopped out to have a bit of a chat. He works for Alexandria Station, the biggest cattle station in Australia and that I was crossing at the moment, and was stationed at Sudan Bore. He drives around servicing and making sure the water pumps at dams are working and pumping up water for the cattle. Apparently, they call them ”turkey farms” and some of the boreholes are 100 m deep. We had a nice long chat and Mark proved to be an expert on snakes and lizards and told me about some of the local specialities.
Then onwards, at least for a little while. Before I had done 10 km, a cyclist came up behind me and called out. He was surprised to see somebody out here walking. His name was Laurie, and he was cycling from Darwin to Townsville. We talked for a while and he left me with some jelly beans for quick energy.
After another 15 km, I came to a truck stop and decided it was time for something to eat. As I sat there, enjoying a tuna, crispbread sandwich, a Harley with a camping trailer pulled in. The rider was a lady called Heather that was out trying to finish off a tour around Australia. We talked for a while and she offered to make some coffee. Talk about a great idea, I hadn’t had any coffee for 3 days! It took a while to boil the water due to the wind but it was finally done and I enjoyed a double-strength cappuccino. It was great.
We had a long talk before it was time to head our separate ways and it was more than 11 am before I continued on. With all the socializing that I had been doing today, I was resigned to not getting a huge amount of mileage done.
But the coffee must have worked wonders because I motored along through the rest of the day and realized that there was a chance that I could make it to the Avon Downs rest area if I walked a little bit longer into the evening than I had been doing. Said and done. I walked the last hour in darkness but the traffic was almost nonexistent and arrived at the rest area having walked 50 km. Not bad considering that I had spent so much time meeting people!
I again set up the hammock between 2 trees as the ground was rock hard and there was still some wind. I am getting the hang of sleeping in the hammock but I think it would suit somebody that does not move around as much as I do during the night a lot better. It is comfortable but a bit difficult to switch positions and as I do that several hundred times through the night, it gets a little complicated. If I could learn to sleep a bit more statically, then it would be great.
Day 5 started in a wonderful way. The police station across the road from the Avon Downs rest area has what they call a ”driver reviver”. What that means is that you can get coffee or tea and sometimes a biscuit. Guess what I did as soon as I had packed the hammock?
So, a great start, if a little bit later than usual because I had 3 cups of coffee before I set off! Then it was like usual, into a slight headwind, slowly becoming more of a side wind as the day wore on.
As I was walking along, a Suzuki Jimmy packed full of stuff drove past and then turned around and stopped. Driving it was Claudia and she wanted to know if I was ok and if I needed something. I said I was ok and explained what I was doing. She then asked if I wanted something fresh, maybe some yoghurt? Oh yeah! That just the sort of fresh food I can’t carry on the Mule and miss the most. So I had some fresh yoghurt with banana. Tasted great.
About halfway through the day, I started looking for a place to have a bit of a break, somewhere with shade if possible. Let’s just say the options were not many…
Then a camper van pulled up alongside and the lady driving it asked if I would like a cup of coffee. It turned out that she had met Heather, the lady on the Harley, at Barkly Homestead and told her about me. Told her that if she saw me, then I would probably appreciate a cup of coffee. So she made a nice cuppa for me, with some cake, and we hid in the camper van from both the sun and all the flies and had a nice chat.
The flies had been getting very bad and it was almost difficult to decide what was worse, a strong headwind that kept the flies away or the flies. I had finally given up and started using the fly net I bought in Katherine, one that goes over your head and hat. So now I looked like a wandering beekeeper.
The rest of the day was one step after another and I was taking it easy. I only wanted to do 40 km or so and leave 30 for tomorrow and the last stretch into Camooweal. As the sun set, I found an area just of the road set up the tent on the hard ground. I had to use rocks as tent pegs but had plenty of time and before long the tent was ready for any wind that might come. The ground was hard, as I said, but it was nice to stretch out after a few days in the hammock, not used to sleeping that way yet. I sleep on a simple, thin foam sleeping pad and it is not the most extreme comfort that is available, but I have gotten used to it and it never develops a puncture like my earlier air mattress.
Day 6 was always going to be an easy day. Just 30 km into Camooweal and all day to do it.
I started with a walking breakfast and had a rest first when I reached the Queensland border, about halfway.
Once there I took a photo with the Mule on its’ rear wheel in front of the Queensland sign. This is in memory of the motorcycle trip I made with my friend Björn in 94/95. During that trip, we took photos of each other riding our motorcycles on the rear wheel past all the typical Australian tourist signs and areas we could find. At least until our bikes started sounding a bit worse for wear and we started nursing them back to Sydney. One place we photographed was the Queensland border, but the sign has been changed since then.
As I sat enjoying some chicken on crispbread, an older couple came over for a talk and finally left me with a large bag of apples and oranges. The generosity and helpfulness of all the people I meet!
Then I set off towards Camooweal, arriving around 1 pm. Not bad, Barkly Homestead to Camooweal in five and a half days, without stressing!
I got the cheapest room available at the Post Office Hotel and am looking forward to having a rest day tomorrow.
The longest stretch without services is now done, which feels great, but that does not mean there are not some challenging walks left to do. Leaving here, it’s 190 km to Mt Isa without much in between, and there will be other parts like that before I am done. But both the Mule and I seem to be able to handle it and I am looking forward to getting closer to the coast. Still have not decided if I will be heading towards Townsville or Rockhampton, I’ll leave that until I reach Mt Isa.
Now I am off to the so-called ”supermarket” to see if I can find some ice cream…
Mt Isa, Queensland, Australia (2015-09-18 03:22)
Camooweal to Mt Isa Day 1
I set of refreshed from Camooweal intending to get to Mt Isa in 4 days. That would mean that I would need to do an average of 47 km a day but I felt that that was possible without any major problems. I was lucky to have found a warm showers host, Belinda, in Mt Isa that I could stay with when I arrived.
The Mule was loaded with water again, some fresh food and after a hot breakfast at the BP roadhouse, it was time to hit the road.
About 15 km out of Camooweal, I noticed a dark speck slowly getting larger on my side of the road. It slowly resolved into a cyclist. It was Tamara, from Ballarat, who was out on a trip around Australia. We talked for a while about everything from being a minimalist to the possible difficulty of returning to a ”normal” life after being on the road for a long time. She said that she had heard about me from some of the grey nomads travelling along the highway. Apparently, I am known as the ”pram man”. Tamara had stayed with Belinda in Mt Isa and told me to say hello, it’s a small world.
The rest of the day passed pretty much as usual, one step after another. As I was having something to eat late in the afternoon under the shade from a windmill, a couple in a 4wd stopped to say hello. They had seen Mattia and me earlier, near Darwin, and had spoken to Tamara at Camooweal, who had told them about what I was doing.
I pushed on into the evening and as the sun was setting, I found a place to camp behind some heaps of gravel and dirt. The tent was set up quickly, with rocks holding the sides down against the wind, and I lay back and enjoyed a brilliant sunset through the tent opening.
I was feeling very lethargic right from the start on day 2, as usual it was probably due to a lack of coffee. In fact, the stretch between Three Ways and Mt Isa is the only part where I have regretted not having my stove with me, just to make coffee if nothing else. I pushed through the breeze, not too bad, and soldier on. At about 11, a car pulled up and asked how I was doing. Barbara, Carl and George were on a trip from Broome, where they had been working for a while, to Sydney and had apparently also met Tamara who had told them about me. We chatted for a while and they asked if I needed anything. I said I was totally ok, the only thing I missed was a cup of coffee. Turned out that I was in luck, Carl and made some coffee that morning and had a thermos full! He gave me a large cup and all of a sudden the day was that much easier!
I had lunch at a rest area and as I was eating my tuna and crispbread sandwich, two 4wds loaded with tractor tires pulled up. They were changing drivers and taking the opportunity to get some cold drink from their esky’s and into the cab. They spotted me and wondered if I might want a cold beer. Oh yeah!
I hadn’t gone more than 2 km down the road after my lunch break before another 4wd pulled up beside me and a voice hollered, ”What the hell are you doing?”
It was a jolly bunch of guys from Albury/Wodonga headed up north for a fishing trip. When they saw me they had to turn around and try to find out what I was doing. They were a happy bunch and it was not long before I had a cold beer in my hand and before they left, they made sure I had another one for the road. It was turning out to be a good day!
I wanted to make it all the way to a rest stop that evening and I pushed on into the early evening darkness, arriving about 40 minutes after the sun had set. I set up the hammock under the picnic table roof and settled down for the night. Still not sleeping all that well in the hammock but I am getting more and more used to it.
Another day composed of one step after another with not much else happening. It was hot and there was not much of a wind blowing and it was a long day. Two different couples pulled over to give me oranges, water and a banana and helped me keep my spirits up. The strangest interaction was a 4wd that that slowed down slightly as the passenger leaned out of the window and shouted, ”Do you want some cold water, mate?” He then held out a bottle of water and smacked it into my palm as they rolled past. Then they were off again after a perfect handoff, Tour de France style.
That evening I made it to the WWII memorial rest area northwest of Mt Isa. That would leave me with a long last day, at least 55 km, but as I was heading to a place where I would be able to have a shower and sleep in a bed, that seemed ok. I again set up the hammock and tried to get some sleep.
I woke up with a desperate need to go to the toilet. Not good. Even worse when I did go as I spent a long time sitting on the toilet passing huge amounts of what was essentially just liquid. Not a great start to a day that was going to end up being close to 60 km long…
I took 2 of the wonder pills my sister had supplied me with for just this sort of situation and set off. No breakfast. I struggled on through the day, feeling a bit weak but tried to keep hydrated by constantly sipping water. My whole food intake for the day was limited to an apple and 3 small muesli bars. If I did not know that I was heading towards a warm showers host, I would have made camp after about 20 km and tried to rest, but I wanted to get the distance done and knew I would be able to rest for a few days once I arrived.
About 15 km outside of Mt Isa, a ute pulled over to see if I wanted a lift. I was very tempted but with ”only” 15 km to go I decided to soldier on.
I think I was very fortunate that the airport, 9 km north of town, was open and had a shop. I headed into the departure lounge, parked the Mule and bought some coke and coffee-flavoured milk. The attendant asked me if that was all and when I tried to say yes, the only thing that came out was a dry squeak. My voice had dried out.
I sat down and slowly sipped the coke, waiting to see how my stomach would react. When that worked, I tried the iced coffee milk. That worked as well and I was starting to feel a bit better. I asked a guy sitting next to me, again in an almost nonexistent, dry voice if he could watch the Mule while I went to the bathroom. Once there I used the toilet, no problem, and walked up to the washbasin to clean up. I looked into the mirror and suddenly wondered that I had not been pulled aside by security. What looked back was a dirt-streaked face with tired eyes, dirty unkempt hair and an ”expedition” beard.
I bought 2 more bottles of coke and continued on. I had to stop and rest every 2 or 3 km, but I was moving forward and even though the sun had set and it was getting very dark, I was getting closer and closer.
Walking into Mt Isa in the dark was interesting. It’s a very industrial place with lots of lights and large, strange buildings.
After lots of small rests, I finally made it to Belinda’s flat, following her very detailed instructions. It had been a very long day, close to 57 km, and I was really tired.
Belinda turned out to be a wonderful warm showers host and had even gone to the trouble to make me a large spaghetti and sauce meal with a big helping of salad. I felt extremely bad when I could only manage to take 2 small bites and then concentrated on trying to drink as much water as possible instead.
I am going to need a few days to rest here in Mt Isa, but my stomach already feels totally ok, so I don’t expect any problems. It might prove interesting to do some sightseeing here amongst the mines before it is time to keep walking east.
Winton, Queensland (2015-10-02 10:44)
I had a very good rest in Mt Isa and was lucky to able to stay with a brilliant warm showers host.
Belinda was wonderful and knows what long-distance travellers, cyclists, or walkers, need when they get to a town.
It was also very interesting to talk to her about her plans to start a long cycle trip again. She says that she has sort of got stuck in Mt Isa but is very much planning to get out on the road again. There was a lot of discussion about destinations, equipment, and general travelling life.
But, after resting, buying new supplies and filling the water bottles, it was time to start heading east again.
Mt Isa to Winton
I started reasonably early, refreshed and rested. It felt easy and gentle and I had bought a new pair of thongs (flip-flops) that actually felt great. I have been having a hard time finding good thongs that fit well and feel good, but these seem, at least so far, to be just what I need. The biggest problem is that they were expensive! I really hope that they last well, there is no way I can afford expensive thongs if they wear out too quickly.
I have another small problem with my feet as well. My left heel has been very dry and has cracked and developed a split through the skin that refuses to heal. Every time I start walking it just splits again. It’s not super serious, but it hurts more or less all the time and refuses to go away. I am going to have to try to treat it more seriously and try to use some antiseptic cream combined with some skin lotion on it to try to soften that area up so it doesn’t continue to split. Even more important is to make sure it does not get infected, that would complicate things!
Even so, the walking was good and the sun felt nice. It was good to be on the road again.
14 km east of Mt Isa, a car pulled up and the driver leaned out and asked if my name was Mats. When I confirmed that it was, he said that he had something for me.
At the beginning of February this year, just before flying to Stockholm to work, I met Lars Bengtsson, the lost cyclist, in Bangkok. We went out for a meal and a couple of beers and talked about long-distance, long time travel. It was a great meeting and was the first, and so far only time, I have met Lars in person. We went to order a last beer and Lars said that he didn’t have any money left, he had not yet had a chance to go to the ATM or bank. No worries I said, I’ll get yours as well. Ever since then Lars has been joking about how he owes me a beer, or the money for one, in a lot of our interactions on social media. Now he had somehow organized that a couple travelling through Australia on longboard skateboards would try to get the money to me. But they had not been able to catch up to me and had enlisted the help of a French couple to get the money to me. And here it was!
Thanks, Lars, but I think that at that moment I would have preferred a beer to the money!
Not much more happened the rest of the day, just step, step, step. I had been warned that it was much hillier after Mt Isa and it was, but I can’t say that it was too difficult. The hills were not that steep or that long. In fact, it was more of relief from the constant flatness of the preceding month.
After 50 km I came to a truck stop and just near it was a gate. I went through the gate and a few hundred yards down the track and found some trees to hang my hammock in. Still trying to force myself to get used to the hammock as it really appeals to my minimalistic side. It’s also super quick to set up and as long as you can get used to sleeping in it, very comfortable. I woke in the middle of the night to the wind picking up and starting to gust quite strongly. The trees I had picked were swaying, but they were sturdy and the movement was more nice than threatening. Occasionally, the gusts would come in just the right sequence to make the hammock start to swing quite radically. I relaxed and enjoyed the ride…
The alarm rang at 6 am, but it was cold and windy outside the hammock. The sleeping bag was nice and warm and I just turned the alarm off and snuggled down deeper into the hammock.
Nevertheless, I finally had to get up, have some breakfast and set off. Again, a day of just taking one step after another. The scenery is great, with red, ancient hills studded with the rugged sort of bush that Australia is known for. It’s a crumbling, rugged, yet jagged countryside that looks as old as it is.
During the day, I walked past a Wills and Bourke memorial. They had apparently passed past here on their inland exploration. Back in 4th or 5th grade at school, I won a book prize and one of the books I choose was about Bourke and Wills. Guess I have always been interested in journeys of exploration. Did I imagine that I one day would be walking across their route, on foot, on my way between Stockholm and Sydney?
The flies are bad around here and I kept walking until the sun had set before setting up the tent in the scrub behind a gravel pit. I only have my cell foam pad to sleep on and that is not very thick, but I have gotten used to it and no longer wake up with aching shoulders and sore hips. In fact, I sleep really well in the tent, better than the hammock which is much more comfortable. Strange how that works, being able to move around seems to be very important to me when I sleep. Just as well considering how hard the foam pad is…
I had walked 42 km the day before and only had 30 or so to Cloncurry to do, so I took it easy and ambled along. Just as well as I started out the day limping along with my left heal hurting every time I stepped on it. It seems to be healing, or at least not getting worse, but not quickly. After 30 min or so, your mind realizes that you are going to keep walking despite the pain and filters it out.
I arrived in Cloncurry early in the afternoon and went shopping. Bought way too much food and gorged myself on fresh stuff. Made sandwiches for the coming day and enjoyed fresh milk in my coffee.
From here, I have to decide if I am going to head towards Townsville or Rockhampton. The turnoff is a little way outside of town and I think I will just walk out there and decide what feels best when I’m there.
I left Cloncurry after an easy morning, with lots of coffee and yoghurt to keep me going through the day. I had also made some fresh sandwiches to keep me going, pastrami and camembert.
I was planning to take 3 days ( or 2.5 ) to reach McKinlay so had plenty of time as it was ”only” 110 km or so. I made good time walking along and the countryside flattened out and the hills started disappearing. I really enjoyed my fresh sandwiches and they helped keep my spirit pretty high. Late in the afternoon it was getting hot and the flies were starting to get very annoying, but just then a car stopped and offered me a cold bottle of lemonade. Just what I needed!
As the sun got lower and lower, I started looking for a place to camp. I finally found a paddock that I could get into along the side of the road that had a few trees and some scrub, shielding it from the highway and decided to stay there. It was a nice place and I set up the hammock and relaxed after finishing the last of my fresh sandwiches.
The hammock is very nice and comfortable in the beginning and add to that the fact that it is nice and cool and you would think that it would be perfect to sleep in. But as I have said, I have a hard time moving around in it and it also gets cold in the early morning hours. I’ll keep trying to adapt, but I’m getting closer to being convinced that I am better served with just a tent. I would like a tent that is cooler than the one I’m using at the moment, but still.
I was cold when the alarm rang in the morning, and as I was in no particular hurry, I stayed in my sleeping bag for an extra hour, until the sun had started warming up. As I got up and got dressed, I managed to rip a great big hole in my shirt. My favourite walking shirt has been with me from the start and protected me from the sun all across the USA. Not all that strange that it finally gave up, after being used day in and day out, with countless hand washes and the sun beating down on it, the fabric across the shoulders had become extremely thin. To the point that it now finally gave up!
I ate the last of my bananas for breakfast and set off. A couple of cars and a truck stopped to check that I was ok or if I needed a lift, one of them a police car. But I told them what I was doing and thanked them for checking on me.
My heel is starting to get better, or at least not getting any worse. The trick that finally allowed it to stop splitting and start healing? Lip balm…
After 18 km, I arrived at a rest stop and decided to have some lunch. It’s always nice to be able to sit down at a table in the shade.
As I sat there, a small bus converted to a camper van pulled over and the driver came over for a talk. We chatted for a long time and I was offered a couple of cups of coffee and even a beer. It turned out to be a very nice lunch and I felt relaxed enough to just enjoy it without feeling the need to stress ever forward.
But I did eventually need to get going and by the time I set off, it was just after 2 pm and the hottest part of the day. Because of the late start and long lunch I had only walked about 36 km by the time the sun started setting. I found a gate in the fence along the road and hid behind some bushes, where I pitched the tent. The tent is not as comfortable as the hammock, but it is warmer in the early mornings and despite the harder surface, I seem to sleep better and be more rested after sleeping on the ground. Still hope it’s just a matter of getting used to it as the hammock really is much more comfortable.
Today was always going to be an easier day. The distance between the ”towns” dictate, at least to a certain extent, when I stop and it was only 30 km left into McKinlay.
I arrived a little after 1 pm and got a tent site at the Walkabout Creek Hotel. It’s famous for being in the Crocodile Dundee movie. McKinlay is a tiny town, essentially only the hotel and a small roadhouse. It’s going to be difficult to resupply here and the next ”town” is 2 days away. Unfortunately, I think that is even smaller, consisting of only a small roadhouse! Then it’s 4 days to Winton before I will find any sort of store. So need to get together enough food for 6 days here and at the next stop. Guess I will have to buy sandwiches and whatever else I can find. Still have food left from my big shopping spree in Mt Isa, but not enough for the whole distance.
I have just set up the tent, had a shower and am listening to the washing machine wash my few clothes. When it has finished, I think I will take a walk and take a few photos before heading into the hotel for a beer. Then a big feed at the roadhouse….
There was no Telstra reception at McKinlay, so the story continues…
I set off with a stomach full of scrambled eggs and some fresh sandwiches for the day. The road was straight and I had only to walk on. It was a little bit hot and the flies were bad, they have been getting worse, something I thought would not be possible!
The surrounding landscape is getting even dryer and looks like it has been grazed to death. Apart from the odd oversized vehicle, complete with a police escort, the day was uneventful.
Late in the afternoon, or rather early in the evening, a car stopped. They had passed me by going the other way, had read that I was walking from Stockholm to Sydney and had to turn around and find out what it was all about. They were a Dutch couple with their daughter, living in Australia. After I told my story they made sure to give me a ”proper” sandwich and a cold beer. White toast gets pretty boring after a while so it was nice to have some proper sourdough bread with a nice slice of Dutch cheese. Not only that, they are starting a company to manufacture treacle waffles and left me their last packet. Check them out at: www.treacletreat.com.au. I decided to save it for breakfast tomorrow, a real calorie bomb to start the day off with!
Five km down the road I stopped and camped at a rest area, more of a parking bay really, and enjoyed a short time without flies after the sunset.
Another short day. 30 km into Kynuna and a stop at the roadhouse/caravan park. Ate a big hamburger and chips for lunch, had a long shower and took it easy during the afternoon. I had hoped that I would have Telstra reception here, but no. So it looks like this story will have to continue until I reach Winton, another 3 to 4 days away.
The lady in the kitchen told me that Waltzing Matilda was written here in Kynuna, don’t know how true that is but the town was founded around the local stations and there is a lot of sheep here. At the moment, there are only about 14 residents in the town, down from 400 in 1894.
Another start with a full breakfast in my stomach and fresh sandwiches packed in the Mule. There were storm clouds on the horizon and, thankfully, a fair bit of cloud that was helping to keep the temperature down.
My first stop was at a rest stop 18 km out of town and as I sat there Jim, a Scottish man living in Australia came over for a chat. He had come from the west and I took the opportunity to find out about the condition of the Gib River Road and if it was possible to cycle. Sounded like it was rough but not too sandy which would be the biggest hindrance to tackling it on a bicycle.
I had just finished talking to Jim when another couple asked me if I was really walking. It was Terese and Mario from Sydney, themselves out on a 2-year tour with their caravan. We chatted for a while and they left me with a cold beer and some fresh fruit, great!
Later during the day a car with 3 or 4 Indian people in it stopped and checked that I was ok. They told me that an Indian man had walked this stretch about 6 months ago and left me with 2 cans of coldish drink. Not long after that 2 cars stopped and I was offered a cold bottle of water and a bottle of sprite. People sure were being friendly and helpful!
In the afternoon, the storm front finally reached me and it started raining. Hard, heavy drops, driven by a hard wind. I only have my poncho as a rain shelter and I am discovering that a poncho is not all that great in a heavy wind. At least not the lightweight type that I have. Didn’t matter much though, it was not very cold and the rain was refreshing and probably very welcome in this area.
The rain didn’t last all that long and I continued on into the late evening and even kept walking after the sunset. After I had covered 53 km for the day, I found a gravel stockpile site next to the road and pitched the tent behind the largest pile, crawled in and rested.
The day dawned without a cloud in the sky and not much wind. Looked like it was going to be a hot one, and without the wind to help keep the flies away, it was going to be annoying. I had my first break 18 km later, at a rest stop and both the heat and the flies were worse than they had been any day earlier. I wanted to cover at least 55 km for the day in order to make it to Winton in 3 days and it looked like it was going to be a tough day!
It was hot when I set off, but I was lucky as the afternoon brought with it some small clouds making it a little bit more bearable.
I was again lucky that the same Indian family that had given me some drinks the day before came by going the other way and stopped to give me a Red Bull. This time, they stopped to take some photos as well.
I walked until the sun had set, the only way to get rid of all the flies and set up the tent just next to a stock route turn off. I had just passed the 60 km to Winton sign, so the last day was going to be a long one!
I got up early, to a wonderful sunrise, and started walking. It was going to be a long day and I did not want to have to do too much of it in darkness.
I only had short food breaks and tried to walk rather than sit around and waste time!
It started out warm with lots of flies but the wind gradually picked up and most of the day I was fighting my way into a headwind.
With about 10 km to go, I was starting to get tired and, just in time, a family stopped and offered me a cold soft drink and a beer!
Talk about timing. With some extra energy, I was able to finish the close to 60 km day and get myself a room at a hotel. I had to walk the last 5 km in the dark but there was not much traffic and it felt great to finally walk into town. A quick shower before I headed to the pub to get a feed. The family that had helped me earlier were there as well, having dinner, and I sat down next to them and started to relax.
Tomorrow will be a rest day, with laundry, some shopping and maybe even a new blog post. Then it will be time to start the 4-day trek to Longreach…
Ilfracombe, Queensland (2015-10-07 09:38)
Winton to Ilfracombe
Another 210 km done. Four decent 45 km days to Longreach and then a relaxing half-day, 30 km to Ilfracombe.
It’s been a mixed bag of days. The first day heading out of Winton was tough. Relentless headwinds and lots of dust being blown up from the dry, desert-like pastures. But the walking has been good despite the wind, the worst has been the flies. There are so many flies everywhere that I think Australia should consider fly farming. Surely there has to be a market for insect protein?
The flies make it unpleasant to stop and have a break, as soon as you slow down they are everywhere. If did not have my fly-net to cover my head, I believe I would have gone completely crazy by now…
I continue to meet interesting people. Just outside of Winton I had a long conversation with a signwriter about minimalism, travelling, tiny homes and Beat-era writers. Then the owner of the hotel I had stayed at in Winton came past and wondered if I might like a cold beer.
He turned out to be a long-distance cycling enthusiast himself and we talked about travel and the difficulty of trying to make reasonable money as a freelance photographer.
I have also met a Kiwi who spoke excellent Swedish and a couple that offered me some oranges only to discover that the cupboard door in their caravan had fallen open and all their china had been smashed on the floor.
If there is anything to comment on from the last five days it is the amount of roadkill. Especially the last 30 km into Longreach were horrible. There was a dead animal every meter. Kangaroos mainly, but some sheep, cattle, pigs, emus and even one wombat. I have been warned that it might be even worse heading towards Barcaldine, but I hope that is just an exaggeration.
I am camping at the Wellshot Hotel here in Ilfracombe and it is a very nice place with lots of character, in fact, the whole town, even if very small, has character.
Not many photos this time, have not been in the mood to take many pictures. I blame it on the bloody flies….
Emerald, Queensland (2015-10-19 04:46)
Well, I’m not actually in Emerald, but Capella, a bit further north. I am staying with Niall, one of the long-distance cyclists I met in Singapore. He is in turn staying with his sister and family and they kindly invited me to stay and have a rest day as well. Niall and Dale finished their trip a while ago and are having some holiday time before they return to the UK.
The walk from Ilfracombe to Barcaldine proved to be interesting. I have named it the walk through the KKF. The kangaroo killing fields. The roadkill was everywhere. Bodies in all states of discomposure and bleached bones scattered all along the side of the road. Thankfully, that was the worst section and it got a lot better once I passed Barcaldine.
That’s when the scenery started to change as well. More trees and scrub and no longer just endless, dry plains.
It’s impossible to travel in Australia without meeting interesting people. The owner of the motel where I stayed in Winton turned up again and we spent some more time chatting. A couple of sisters travelling around Australia in a rented campervan stopped and wondered what I was doing. They were almost at the end of their trip and were returning to the Gold Coast.
It feels good to be moving out of the proper outback and be heading into the hills and mountains of the Great Dividing Range. The scenery is greener and the towns are closer together.
I did go for a little side trip into the Willows Gemfields, hoping to find a sapphire to help pay for my future travels, but no luck. It is interesting with these “fossicking” towns though, they definitely have a wild west feel about them, a bit rougher and more primitive than the “farming” towns.
When I walked into Anakie, I stopped by the pub to try to get a meal before checking into the caravan park. Before long I was talking to the locals and the wonderful managers, Lucy and Dan, made sure I had a room at the motel for the night!
I still have a bit more than 3 months to go before I finish my walk in Sydney, but it’s surprising how much time I have been spending thinking about what will happen after I finish. In many ways, I wish I could just forget about it and enjoy the moment and what I hope to be some wonderful months walking along the Australian Pacific coast. I just booked my flight from Sydney to Kuala Lumpur in February so maybe I can now forget about it and concentrate on what is happening now.
In the coming weeks, I will be heading the rest of the way out to the coast and then head south. I will probably move at a reasonable pace as I want to visit an old friend before he and his family take off on holiday. Ironically they are headed to Sweden…
After that, I should have a very leisurely walk down the north coast of NSW, having lots of time to enjoy the beaches and relax!
As always, stay tuned for updates.
A side note:
As all of you that follow me on Instagram know, I finally got rid of my “expedition” beard. I’ve been growing it since Katherine and was planning to let it grow until I reached the coast. But enough was enough and in Barcaldine, I found a barber, had a haircut and a shave. Felt great!
Miriam Vale, Queensland (2015-11-01 09:06)
It’s been a while and I haven’t posted an update earlier because I have been busy socialising. That, combined with never seeming to be able to get reliable internet when I have time to write is becoming a common occurrence!
I left Emerald after getting a lift there from Chris and after having had a very nice rest day in Capella. Because I wanted to do some shopping in Emerald, I had a bit of a late start but still managed more than 42 km to Comet as the sun was setting. There I was very lucky to run into the owners of the Comet Rest and after talking to them for a while, they kindly offered me a room for the night.
Then followed a walk to Blackwater, Dingo and then Duaringa.
In Duaringa, I had just finished putting up the hammock, for the first time using the flysheet, when a thunderstorm came through!
It was a big one and it rained most of the night. I was a little bit worried as I had not used the hammock in rain before, but it handled it great. In fact, I was able to pack up the hammock under the cover of the rainfly and pack it away dry. Something that I can’t do with my tent. Once that is packed, it all gets wet as the inner tent is packed along with the floor.
A couple of times in the last couple of weeks, police have stopped to check that I am ok, even taking my name in case something happens. Let’s hope that won’t be necessary!
After camping in a paddock next to the train line one night, I was getting close to Stanwell when a guy in a Commodore (a car, a Holden), stopped and asked me what I was doing. It turned out to be Gav and as he lived just across the train track, he asked me if I wanted something to drink. In the end, he offered me a whole lot more hospitality. I stayed there for the night, walked to Rockhampton the next day, was again picked up by Gav and taken back to his house and then driven back to Rockhampton to continue walking the next day.
On top of which his group the 455 network sponsored me with some new Colorado thongs (flip-flops).
I even got to test drive his bus down through the dirt roads around his home. I did it Ozzie style, what that is I’ll explain in the book…
Gav also gave me some food supplements to try called Kyani. I have 2 weeks worth and I’ll let you know what I think about it after I try it.
Then followed 3 days to Gladstone where Gav once again met up with me and arranged for me to stay with his friends Peter and Vicky. We had a great night and when it was over, the Mule sported a new Queensland number plate.
From Gladstone to Miriam Vale has taken me 3 days, slow going but I only walked 14 km today in order to have time with some wifi to post this. The high point of those days was staying at Bushchooks Travellers Village in Bororen, a nice place with great service and that gave a discount for walking.
From here, I intend to head towards Bundaberg along the inland road. It will be nice to be of the Bruce Highway, and it should take me either 2 long days or 3 slightly easier days. Will have to see what I feel like tomorrow.
There hasn’t been much beach life yet, as the road doesn’t follow the coast but the scenery is much greener and there has even been a fair bit of rain. Earlier I would have looked forward to some rain but I have to admit I have already grown tired of it!
By the end of the month, I hope to have reached NSW and visit my old friend Claes before he heads off to Sweden on holiday with his family, so I need to keep walking even though Sydney is getting closer and closer. Most people still think that I’m crazy when I say I’m walking to Sydney but there is only somewhere between 1300 to 1500 km left now, depending on which route I take, and it’s starting to feel very close!
Coolum Beach, Queensland (2015-11-16 11:50)
It’s again been a while since I posted anything on the blog but I have finally ”made” some time to get caught up and tell you all what is happening.
I am really enjoying walking along the coast, it so much greener than what I have been experiencing in the inland and I have yet to get used to it.
It’s great to be able to get fresh, sun-ripened fruit and, even better, it’s quite cheap to buy in the roadside stalls and farm outlets. At one such place just outside Bundaberg, I met Caroline, an ex-pat Swedish girl working in the store.
In Hervey Bay, I stayed with Peter, Vicky and ”Grubb”, who had passed me earlier near Longreach and invited me to visit if I came past. I had a wonderful time with most of the extended family coming over for a BBQ in the evening. My very good friends from Sydney, Hansje and Tom, also managed to drop by and take me out to lunch when they passed through on their way to Moore Park the next day.
When I left Hervey Bay I again found some ex-pat Swedes. Tina and Ulf run the DeliBAy Café and I stopped for a cup of coffee and a short chat.
I have had some sandal problems though. My new Keen sandals are good but take a bit of getting used to. Starting out with a 46 km day without socks was not a good idea…
I have become so used to wearing thongs (flip-flops) that my feet rebel against anything that constrains them. How am I ever going to be able to get used to wearing shoes every day again!
I did have one day that was a bit more challenging. The morning was very nice and I stopped to do some writing on a hilltop and then stopped again at a great campsite called Cobb & Co Nine Mile for ice cream.
As I walked into Cooran the sky was getting darker and darker and when I started out towards Pomona it started to rain. A few kilometres outside of Pomona it really started thundering and raining, by the time I reached the town I was drenched. I was looking forward to a warm cup of coffee but the lightning had cut out the power to the entire town. I set off towards Cooroy but turned around after less than 1 km and tried to dry off in the local pub instead.
After a couple of hours, the storm passed by and I again set off towards Cooroy. This time I got a bit further but was pulled up short by flooding. A creek crossing was flooded and seemed to be running quite strongly. There was a local man there that had parked his 4wd because he could not cross. Having been turned back once already, I really wanted to get across and set about trying to see if I could possibly carry some stuff across and then try to roll an almost empty Mule through the stream. The current was not too strong and I managed to ferry my stuff across by being very careful and taking my time. It felt good to be able to continue and I set off happy and content.
Unfortunately, the crossing was just the beginning! Lots of more flooding, sticky clay and ruined roadways lay ahead. It took time but I finally made it to Cooroy, late in the evening, in the pouring rain. I was lucky to be able to pitch my tent under cover at the local campsite and enjoyed my shower a bit more than usual that night.
Since then I have had a couple of easy days walking along the coast, stopping to enjoy it even though the weather has been far from perfect.
I have been feeling a bit bad about not updating the blog often enough and have been thinking about different ways I might be able to share my walk in a more effective way. Which is the reason this blog post will go out as a newsletter as well.
I am going to try a new method of letting you know what is happening. From now on I will be posting at least one Instagram picture a day, with a slightly longer text to go with it. That will be so you can follow my daily adventures and a way for me to highlight what I am experiencing at the moment. This will be posted to Instagram, Facebook and the blog (if I manage to sort out all the parameters), so no matter where you are following me, you will be kept up to date. From now until the finish in Sydney, I will write at least once a day. It might not get posted every day, depending on my internet access, but I will write at least once a day, hopefully more.
On top of that, I will write a longer piece about my plans and thoughts that I will post every month or two. This will essentially be the newsletter and you can either subscribe to it or read it on the blog when it posts.
I’m not sure how this will work out, but it feels good to continue experimenting with different ways to share the-walk and discover what suits me best. I hope this will mean that not only will you be kept up to date with what is happening, but I will find it easier to post more but shorter tidbits from the road.
The-walk is very much an experiment in itself and I am looking forward to seeing if this might be a way for me to share more and feel a little less guilt about not being up to date.
Time will tell and I will keep walking!
Eudlo, Queensland (2015-11-17 09:53)
It’s been a harder day than I have become used to…
I chose a more inland route, along smaller roads and if I would have known just how many steep ups, and downs, there were going to be, then maybe I would have reconsidered.
Still, the exercise is good and the scenery great. Lush and green almost rainforest.
Elimbah, Queensland, Australia (2015-11-18 02:37)
Just did my first media interview in Oz. Georgie and Lion from Win TV found me on the road and stopped to get my story.
Otherwise it looks like it is going to be a hot day!
Glasshouse Mountains (2015-11-18 10:12)
I started this morning walking through some great scenery in the Glasshouse Mountains but as the day wore on and I got closer and closer to Brisbane, it is turning more and more urban.
Great in some ways as it’s always easy to get a coffee or a cold drink, but more traffic.
I’m looking forward to the coming week, I’ll be meeting up with both new friends and old ones.
Just managed to get in touch with a friend I haven’t seen in 30 years…
Instagram Image (2015-11-19 21:52)
It was a long, warm walk into Brisbane, 44 km and 34 degrees.
Add the fact that a lot of it was along roads with lots of traffic and I was tired when I arrived. ( It was nowhere as bad as Java though! )
I’m glad I only have a short day coming up.
A stroll through the city and an evening meeting new friends. 🙂
Brisbane, Australia (2015-11-20 14:34)
I have yet again enjoyed some great hospitality on my walk.
Helene and Ulf put me up for the night and fed me a great meal of Swedish meatballs. But even better, they followed that up with a dessert of Pavlova!
Don’t worry, there was nothing left by the time we were finished…
Yatala Pie Shop (2015-11-21 04:41)
I’m just sitting down and having lunch with Chris at the famous Yatala Pie shop.
I first met Chris a long time ago, outside of Gasselte in the Netherlands. He discovered on the blog that I was passing through Brisbane and managed to get hold of me and arrange to walk for a while with me today.
Looks like this coming week is very much going to be about reunions…
Gold Coast, Queensland (2015-11-22 08:15)
I’ve been having a rest day on the Gold Coast, catching up with my old mate Rocky.
I first met Rocky at the Herb Nelson Stunt School in the early eighties. We then trained and worked together at the Stunt Agency up until 86, when I moved to Stockholm.
It was an intense period of my life and it’s been great to relive memories and find out what has happened to all our mutual acquaintances.
Broadbeach Beach (2015-11-23 04:24)
What can you say..
It’s “schoolies week” but I managed to walk through surfers before all the party-goers had recovered from the night before and the beach was not very crowded.
Point Danger (2015-11-24 02:49)
Not walking today, instead, I’m out exploring Tweed Heads and Coolangatta on a borrowed bike. Nice change and nice views!
Life sure is hard…
Burleigh Heads Beach (2015-11-25 23:37)
“Rest day” in Tweed Heads means getting up before 5 am and heading into Burleigh Heads for a workout…
People tend to comment that I must be very fit after all my walking, but I must admit that my aerobic capacity seldom gets a workout while walking. Something that I was very sorely reminded of today! 🙂
Always good to do a bit of hard work and wake up in the morning.
Gold Coast, Queensland (2015-11-27 06:22)
One of the most appropriate mailboxes I’ve seen for a while. After all, this is the Gold Coast, Surfers Paradise!
Burleigh Heads Beach (2015-11-27 08:37)
Friday arvo at Burleigh Heads beach = barbeque. True!
Tweed Heads, New South Wales (2015-11-29 10:18)
I’ve got wheels!
Don’t worry it’s only temporary…
I’ve been invited to celebrate Christmas with friends in Sydney, and as I am in plenty of time for my planned January 26th finishing date, I decided it would be nice. Christmas amongst friends is never totally wrong.
I’m leaving the Mule at the Gold Coast, heading down to Sydney and then, after Christmas, returning to finish the-walk.
I could just take a bus south, but that would be way too easy!
So, I got hold of Bruce, from Kickbikes Australia, and managed to borrow a kickbike. I have wanted to try one for a while and this seemed like a perfect opportunity. An extra little adventure in the adventure.
I’ll be kicking my way the 900 km to Sydney and getting a bus back to the Mule after Christmas.
Tomorrow, I’ll be trying to find a way to strap my minimalist baggage to the kickbike and hope to be on my way by Tuesday. Stay tuned for more exciting updates as I try something completely new! 🙂
Barefoot Barista (2015-11-29 22:32)
Starting the day with a double espresso at Barefoot Barista in Palm Beach, according to Claes the best coffee in the world. Sorry, Claes, not a patch on Sousta in Stockholm!
I’m in Palm Beach waiting for the bike shop to open and hopefully find a rack and some panniers for the kickbike.
Banora Pt NSW (2015-11-30 08:26)
After a day visiting most of the bike shops between Palm Beach and Tweed Heads south, I’ve managed to jury rig a rack and some panniers to the kickbike.
Just finished a trial packing and I actually have room to spare!
Ok, so I am only taking the bare essentials, and the things that make it look bulky are the sleeping mat, the tent and the sleeping bag. I will be very interested to see how it handles with the load…
One thing I do know after having kickbiked about 20 km today, is that I am going to be very sore after a full day!
Tomorrow morning I hit the road and head south.
Tweed Heads, New South Wales (2015-11-30 22:24)
The first kick and I’m off!
Feeling fresh and looking good, lets see what the day brings.
Kingscliff, New South Wales (2015-12-01 01:39)
The north coast of NSW is one of the most beautiful in the world. Great scenery and easy access to brilliant beaches.
Kicking through here is not a hardship! 🙂
Byron Bay, New South Wales (2015-12-01 09:16)
The first day on the kickbike is done!
72.78 km, close to 6 hours effective kicking, an average speed of 12.2 km, and an incredible max speed of 72.5 km (I found one long downhill and crouched down behind the bars. It rolls well and I am no longer all that worried about the stability with all my gear on board.)
I feel good but am pretty certain I’ll have some sore muscles tomorrow. So tomorrow will probably be a shorter day to let my muscles get used to it.
Lennox Head Lookout (2015-12-02 00:51)
Day 2.. The scenery continues to be fantastic even though the weather has turned a bit wet. Just hope the panniers prove to be at least a bit watertight !
New Italy, New South Wales, Australia (2015-12-03 03:04)
Day 3 has started wet and a bit windy, like yesterday. But it is nice to be kicking along and although I do feel that I have been exercising, it is not as bad as I feared. In fact, I feel pretty good! 🙂
I just passed Little Italy and came upon this flag. Who out there knows what flag it is?
Yamba Main Beach (2015-12-04 10:34)
I’m having a rest day in Yamba. Great place for it even though I probably could have managed without it.
But I have plenty of time and the north coast of NSW is “the” place to take breaks.
I did feel the 200 + km done in the first 3 days, so the rest will be good for me in the long run. Tomorrow I intend to try to follow the coast south, it looks possible on Google maps, but I’m afraid some river crossings might force me back out to the highway.
I’m enjoying kickbiking and starting to develop a bit of a rhythm, with different numbers of kicks with each leg, all depending on the terrain. Some walking uphill, but that’s a nice break for the legs, needed every now and again.
The road tomorrow might prove a bit rougher and it will be fun to see how the kickbike (and I) handle it!
Shelley Beach, Angourie (2015-12-04 23:47)
What a wonderful start to the day.
Kicking and walking my way down the coast along the cliffs and beaches!
Minnie Water (2015-12-05 21:26)
Although yesterday started out easy, by the afternoon the tide had come in. Which meant I was pushing (carrying) the kickbike through loose, wet sand. Hard work! 🙂 Still wonderful scenery though and I camped at Minnie Water overnight. Now, I’m enjoying a coffee and trying to decide the route for the day…
Barcoongere River (2015-12-06 06:28)
After yesterday’s adventures, I felt like avoiding the sand today.
So I plotted a route a little bit inland, along 4wd tracks through State forests and National parks.
Nice change of pace even if I managed to get a bit lost. Google maps was a bit overwhelmed!
It’s been a hard but fun day, with water crossings, tracks that slowly disappear into nothing, and long, rough and fun downhills!
I’m camped at the beach at Corindi, just about to go for a swim. Life is good!
Sandon River, NSW (2015-12-06 10:05)
Just one of the little adventures the kickbike has been through already. Ferrying across the Sandon River.
The kickbike doesn’t have a name yet, suggestions?
Corindi Beach (2015-12-06 21:06)
Thanks for all the name suggestions.
I’ve decided what to call the kickbike, but the reasoning is a bit convoluted, so try to bear with me..
It always looks to me as if it were 2 different halves, from different vehicles. The front from a bicycle and the rear from a scooter. That got me thinking about calling it half something or other.
But I couldn’t come up with anything I liked. Then I remembered!
In Swedish, Laurel and Hardy are called Helan och Halvan. Roughly translated, full and half. So I am naming it Stan, after Stan Laurel, Halvan (the half).
The only problem is that I guess that makes me the fat guy.
Oh well, if the bowler hat fits….. )
Big Banana Coffs Harbor (2015-12-07 01:58)
Sweaty work this morning, but Stan and I have made it to the Big Banana in Coffs Harbour. Now we are just waiting for my banana split to arrive!
Coffs Harbour, New South Wales (2015-12-07 09:38)
I’m back in my favourite footwear. Kickbiking in thongs (flip flops). They said it couldn’t be done but it works perfectly.
In many ways, it forces a very correct, energy-efficient kick. Otherwise, you lose your footwear!
The last few very wet and sandy days left me with some blisters from my sandals and I decided to try my Hurley thongs, my all-time favourites. It works and I’m going to continue kicking in them.
I’ve mailed Hurley trying to get some sponsorship, but have not received any kind of answer. If anybody out there has any connections with Hurley and can help me get in contact with them, please let me know.
The Athletes Foot Coffs Harbour (2015-12-08 05:44)
Today has been a rest day and I spent the afternoon returning my Keen H2 sandals.
After only one month, they were falling apart in the seams. The soles, although showing wear, were lasting well.
Full marks to The Athletes Foot for great service and return policy. The lady serving me said she couldn’t believe that a pair of Keens could look so worn after just one month! I didn’t tell her about my little project and that I had walked in them all the way from Bundaberg.
Being a bit disappointed in the Keens, I got a pair of Merrell shoes instead.
After more than 20,000 km I know what I prefer and what works for me. Hurley thongs and if the weather or terrain demands it, Merrell shoes.
Now if they would both just sponsor me!
Raleigh County, New South Wales (2015-12-09 04:04)
Heading south out of Coffs Harbour this morning I ran into Len.
He was working his way down the coast selling material and equipment for surfboard manufacturing.
He wanted to know all about Stan, the kickbike. How it was to ride, where it was from and where he could get one.
We chatted for a while and then I headed south again.
So far today I have done 66 km. It might just turn out to be the first 100+ day…
Kempsey, New South Wales (2015-12-09 21:25)
Yesterday ended up being a longish day.
The weather got worse and worse as the afternoon wore on, and I was finally kicking along in the rain.
I didn’t stop until I had kicked 121 km.
Which felt much like a 50 km walking day, long but completely possible and repeatable.
The worst thing that happened was that I lost my hat somewhere along the road. That’s what can happen when you zing along at these high speeds…
So Bruce, now you will have to add me to the Kickbike 100 club! 🙂
Instagram Image (2015-12-10 00:49)
Google just reminded me that 2 years ago I was walking through Spain, and taking a little detour to Andorra.
Feels like such a long time ago, certainly, a lot of steps have been walked since then…
Crescent Head Beach (2015-12-10 01:02)
Today, I’m heading out to the beaches and 4wd tracks again.
Will try to make it an easy day and find a nice spot to camp near the water.
The downhills sure are a lot more fun when I can roll down them! Unfortunately, they don’t seem to last that long.
North Haven, New South Wales, Australia (2015-12-12 07:29)
I’m enjoying a beer and a pizza in Coopermook.
The hotel here lets you camp for free if you buy food and drink. Which suits me just fine as I need both!
A lot of hotels in Australia seem to offer the same deal, and I’ve taken advantage of it several times on my walk (and now my kick).
Tomorrow, I hope to make it somewhere near Forster, Sydney is getting closer!
Forster Tuncurry bridge (2015-12-13 10:07)
Google maps has sent me down some small paths and tracks, through State forests and National parks.
All good as I have managed to find some great seldom used ways between different destinations. Often, I’m the first person passing through for a while.
How do I know?
One giveaway is all the undisturbed spider webs stretched across the path. Some with BIG spiders in them!
Lucky I’m not that afraid of arachnids, just a little bit.. 🙂
Booti Booti National Park (2015-12-13 22:45)
There are lots of places with wonderful names in Australia. Some weird and wonderful sounding and some just funny.
Some can be difficult to understand how to pronounce, but some are easier!
Buladelah (2015-12-14 12:26)
Pushing Stan, the kickbike up what seemed to be a never-ending hill on the way to Buladelah today.
But I don’t mind long uphills much because they are bound to be followed by a downhill! And I like the downhills, the longer and steeper the better. 🙂
Karuah, New South Wales (2015-12-14 21:19)
Yesterday turned into another 100+ day without me really intending it.
I started out from Forster, taking it easy, and the plan was to get to Buladelah.
It was a nice kick, first along beaches and lakes, and then up through dense, rainforest-like vegetation. Followed by a great coast down!
I arrived in Buladelah before 3 pm and found that I did not want to stop.
I was too restless to just sit and read, or go for a swim in the river. So I pushed on along the A1, not the most fun route, and as the day drew to a close, I found myself in Karuah.
When I finish writing this, I’m going to pack up and head towards Newcastle, don’t know where I’ll finish…
Medowie State Forest (2015-12-15 04:55)
It’s good to be off the A1 and back on smaller roads.
Some of them don’t qualify as roads, but they are still more fun than the highway!
Short day today, about 60 km to Newcastle, leaving me that afternoon to walk around town.
Magenta Shores Golf & Country Club (2015-12-16 05:11)
I have spent the day kicking my way south, and trying not to get wet.
I succeeded for a while, but eventually, the rain became relentless and I packed away what I could and got drenched.
Needless to say, I haven’t been in the mood to stop and photograph anything and the camera is packed away in a watertight bag.
But I just had to stop and get my Xperia mobile out (waterproof) when I saw this sign. Somebody has got serious problems with their colour vision. That is not magenta!
The Entrance, New South Wales, Australia (2015-12-16 07:24)
It looks a lot more dramatic than it really was.
As I rolled over the bridge into The Entrance, I took a snap of the island next to the bridge and the rain clouds. Google then turned it into an hdr image all by itself…
Tomorrow should see me arriving in Sydney if all goes well. Just hope it stops raining!
Avalon beach, NSW (2015-12-17 05:41)
My kind of place!
Mona Vale Beach (2015-12-18 04:29)
No kickbiking today!
I’ve reached Sydney and am having a nice relaxing day doing as little as possible.
Went for a walk to Mona Vale beach and am trying to back up and get my computer up to date, but apart from that, I’m doing nothing!
During the coming weekend, I’ll try to write a longer summary about the kickbiking and hope to post it before Christmas, but not today…
Kickbiking the North Coast of NSW (2015-12-18 23:39)
I’ve moved this to a separate page. Link is available from both the travel and the articles pages. Or here:
Mona Vale, Northern Beaches (2015-12-23 10:37)
I would just to take the opportunity to wish you all the most Merry Christmas ever from me, Stan and St Nick! 🙂
Coolangatta / Tweed Heads (2015-12-26 22:15)
This morning I will be back on the road. Back after a Christmas break.
Back in Tweed Heads.
Back on my way back to Sydney!
A fair distance still to walk in the coming month, but I’m looking forward to it. The photo I’m sharing is from the 1000 mile mark on the test-walk.
Feels like a long time and many steps ago…
Mount Warning, Uki, NSW, Australia (2015-12-28 02:48)
Back on the road and heading into hippy country, towards Nimbin. Even the bridges are starting to be rainbow coloured.
Yesterday was a short day, only 30 km, yet surprisingly hard. Always a bit difficult to get going again after a long rest but I should be back to speed before the year ends.
Nice to be back in the company of the Mule!
Mount Warning (2015-12-28 10:52)
Just outside of Kunghur, Choc came out to the road to check on me and ask what I was doing.
He invited me in for a cold drink and we had a chat. He is originally from west Sydney but moved here 25 years ago because he wanted a better place for his kids to grow up in. ” People come here for holidays,” he says “but I get to live here all the time!”
Who can argue with that?
Nimbim (2015-12-28 11:22)
I found a guitar in the long grass beside the road today. Loaded it into the Mule, but it looked a bit of place.
I can’t play anyway and a guitar is not a minimalist music instrument! Found a big sign along the road and hung it up where it was easy to see. Hopefully, the owners will come looking for it before someone else grabs it!
Nimbin, New South Wales (2015-12-28 21:18)
There definitely is a different vibe in this area as opposed to the beaches, not to mention the outback!
I don’t really qualify as a relax-a-bot as I am trying to get some walking done, but I feel plenty relaxed…
Lismore, New South Wales (2015-12-29 06:03)
Walking from Nimbin to Lismore today when an Irish couple pulled up to say hello.
In fact, a lot of people have been leaning out of cars to shout encouragement. At least that is what think (hope) they are doing but the road is narrow and twisty so who knows!
Beautiful, green, lush scenery makes the walking easier and it has been a little bit cloudy, with the odd shower, so it’s not too hot. Did a 50 km day yesterday and am just a bit tired. No problem as today will only be 30 km and I’ll be heading towards some hospitality.
Golden Grove Plantation (2015-12-30 04:23)
After a brilliant evening of great hospitality at my friend Terra’s brothers home, with family and friends, I continued south today.
I walked past a car on the side of the road, nodding to the people as I passed it. Suddenly the guy rushed up to ask if I was Swedish. They were Adam and Trina, Swedes at the start of a working holiday year in Australia. If you look closely at Adam’s sunglasses, you can see the Mule reflected in them!
Woodburn Riverside Park (2015-12-30 09:26)
Do you ever get the feeling that the world is a huge place and that exploring it would be a never-ending quest?
Or that there is an infinite number of books you would like to read, knowledge you would like to acquire?
Unending cultures to explore and experiences to experience?
I believe that curiosity is one of the most important parts of being human. Of being capable of empathy and compassion. Of trying to understand the world and how you can make it better.
Or am I just fooling myself and trying to justify my continued exploration of the world and the people in it…?
Woombah Nsw (2015-12-31 07:25)
I stopped a little bit early today, found myself a nice quiet, secluded spot in the woods and hung up the hammock.
I’m going to relax, listen to the birds, possibly a podcast or two and reflect on the year that has passed. Just me, the Mule and what sounds like a million cicadas.
It’s been a good year. Intense, interesting and educational. May the next year continue in the same vein.
I’m going off-line now and would like to wish you all the happiest possible new year. Bring it on!
Tyndale, New South Wales, Australia (2016-01-01 06:51)
The new year has started well.
I keep meeting interesting people, all the while whittling away at the kilometres that remain.
I am having a few problems with my mobile, it won’t charge from my extra battery so you might not hear from me tomorrow. I’m going bush tonight and tomorrow, cutting through some state forest rather than remaining on the highway but if all goes well I’ll resurface near Corindi Beach in a day or so…
Coldstream River (2016-01-02 01:03)
Waking along a smaller road today, I ran into Bill.
He was busy fixing fences along the property, and there sure are a lot of fences.
We had a nice chat and as I left, I remembered to give him the new tin snips that I found by the side of the road yesterday. When I find good stuff I pick it up and give it to the next person who seems like they could use it.
I have given away a lot of tools so far!
Coffs Harbour, New South Wales (2016-01-04 20:56)
I have been lazy and uninspired the last few days. That means no photos…
But everyone seemed to like Bill so I decided to share another snap of him, this time showing him in his natural environment.
Numbucca (2016-01-05 12:22)
One important thing in Oz is to be careful with the sun, it’s very easy to get burned.
Which is why I got myself a new straw hat in Coffs Harbour. The cheapest I could find. 10 dollars at Big W.
It’s an Australia Day hat (fitting considering my planned finishing date), but I hid the Ozzie flag band with my Explore Sweden buff.
Only thing is, ever since then it has been raining, and raining, and raining!
Eungai Creek, New South Wales, Australia (2016-01-07 00:56)
I was sitting and waiting for my morning coffee in Macsville yesterday when Dave and his granddaughter Olivia came over to ask about the-walk.
After a chat, they invited me to spend the night at their farm and I continued on with a new destination.
Robbo’s Plot turned out to be a little oasis. A pecan nut and flower farm nestled in a green, lush bend of the Eungai River. I enjoyed a wonderful evening, going out to dinner with Dave, Sandra, Olivia and some of their friends and neighbours.
The picture is of Dave picking some fresh, organic oranges this morning to send me on my way with! 🙂
Crescent Head Beach (2016-01-07 10:21)
As a lot of you know, I have more or less navigated all the way from Stockholm to here, Crescent Head, using Google maps.
It has gone surprisingly well and I remain a fan.
In fact, I think Google should sponsor my continued journeys! Are you listening, Google?
Which does not mean that there have not been the odd glitch….
Today I found myself slogging through head-high grass, tripping in water-filled ditches, all the while keeping my eye out for snakes, ticks and leeches. A 10 km stretch that should have taken 2 hours eventually took 3.
At least I was off the main highway! 🙂
Lake Cathie (2016-01-09 03:29)
Yesterday morning, after I came out from my morning coffee at Crescent Heads, I found a pineapple sitting on top of the Mule.
I love fresh pineapple and am really looking forward to to eating it.
Newsletter no 5 (2016-01-10 01:09)
It’s been a while again since the last newsletter, and a lot of things have happened.
Everything from an impromptu kickbike tour down to Sydney to celebrate Christmas and many meetings with interesting people.
I’ve managed to catch up with some old friends, reliving some intense periods of my life, and have made new friends all along the east coast.
The biggest single experience would have to be the experimental kickbike tour I embarked upon. I won’t write too much about it here but link you to what I wrote on the blog instead. Check it out here.
The north and central coast of NSW has been absolutely spectacular! I doubt that there are many areas in the world that can offer such splendid beaches and beautiful scenery. It really is the most scenic part of the-walk so far!
The one thing that seems to be more and more on my mind lately is that the-walk is getting very close to the finish. As I write this I have less than 400 kilometres to walk. That might still sound like a fair bit, but considering that I have by now walked 19,500 kilometres, it feels almost like a stroll in the park.
The plan is to finish at the Sydney central post office at Martin Place on the 26th of January. I have had to set a finishing date as there are people coming all the way from Sweden to see me finish!
If all goes well, I will try for a 3 pm finishing time and if any of you are anywhere near Sydney, it would be great to see you there.
As the finish gets closer and closer, I find myself thinking more and more about the future. In fact, it’s getting to the stage that that is almost the only thing I am thinking about!
I suppose that I thought that the-walk would (hopefully) cure some of my restfulness, but that has just not been the case. If anything, I am even more interested in continuing some sort of minimalistic, vagabond lifestyle and most of my thoughts centre around how I might be able to do that.
I know that I will have to start by returning to Stockholm for a while in order to get my economics in order and earn some cash, but after that, there are endless possibilities.
The biggest question is if I should consider the-walk to be finished? Or should I think about the possibility of making it a complete around the world journey?
I’m far from sure that I feel the need to be able to say that I have walked around the world, but I have to admit that it almost seems to be silly to stop now…
The only future plan that is set is a 2-week kickbike tour in Malaysia, on my way back to Stockholm. Apart from that, the rest are just loose ideas.
I would like to keep the blog, Instagram, and newsletter going and maybe morph the-walk into a larger, more general project. Maybe an attempt to complete a 100,000 kilometre, human-powered exploration of the world. Is that something that you would be interested in continuing to follow?
But there are many alternatives all vying for attention in my mind at the moment.
I would like to walk the Te Araroa trail in New Zealand (check out Helena who is doing it now), or start an around the world kickbike tour, try living full time in a small van, maybe doing the Pan American highway on a Bullit cargo bike. There are endless versions and combinations of these and other options swirling around in my head and I will definitely have to sit myself down and do some serious thinking once I reach Sydney. I will have plenty of time though, as the one thing I know with certainty is that I do have to work and save some money before I can start any new project (or continue around the world).
If all goes well, the time back in Stockholm working will also allow me to write a book or two. I have a few ideas about that as well, naturally including a book about the-walk.
I’m really looking forward to finishing and hope that any of you that are able will be there to meet me.
Either way, I think I can promise that there will be a lot more to come in the future, I just don’t know what as yet!
Camden Haven River (2016-01-11 03:53)
I’m having a rest day (2 in fact) and am enjoying some great hospitality. I’m staying with Terra and her parents in Bonny Hills and yesterday I was very lucky that Paul offered to take me for a flight in his small plane.
We had a wonderful flight above the beaches and coastline, spotting dolphins, sharks and schools of fish amongst the beautiful scenery.
Coopernook State Forest Park Campground (2016-01-12 09:14)
Back on the road again after 2 rest days.
Sydney is getting closer, if I walk non-stop, I could reach it in just 3 days! Not that I’m going to and I will probably choose a less direct route.:) Nevertheless, my Jan 26th finish looks very achievable unless something very drastic happens. 42 km today and I am camped in a State Forest with way too many other people, it’s not hard to tell it’s still holiday time.
I’m laying on my back in the hammock, listening to the birds and trying to stay away from all the mosquitoes. Recovering from one more day of walking and trying to wrap my head around the fact that the walking days are slowly approaching the end!
Foster-Tuncurry (2016-01-15 02:02)
Not every day is sunshine and blue skies!
Storms have hit the central coast and I have spent the first half of the day walking in rain.
Lucky to have had a room last night, avoiding the worst of the storm. I’m getting some warm food and coffee and then it will be time to get wet again…
Buladelah (2016-01-15 23:46)
After a day walking in the rain, I reached the good grub shack.
The only problem was that I only had a small amount of cash and they did not take credit cards!
But hospitality ruled supreme and they took what cash I had and made me some hot food and a coffee.
That was followed by more wet walking and a hammock night in a state forest. It rained a little bit through the night but I stayed dry and the morning has started dry, with some sunshine.
Today will be a boring slog along the highway, but hopefully a bit dryer.
Medowie, New South Wales (2016-01-17 21:33)
Walking along the road yesterday, I spotted this sign.
Reminded me of when I was walking in the USA, where “no trespassing” is the most common sign anywhere.
By a long shot!
But it also reminded me of how well I have been received during my walk.
No matter where I have walked in the world, people have been universally kind, helpful and hospitable. No matter what any signs have said!
Stockton, New South Wales, Australia (2016-01-18 03:38)
I’m way ahead of schedule at the moment for my Jan 26th finish.
Which is great as I can take it easy and don’t have to worry about speed cameras!
It also means that I think I will be taking a couple of rest days, starting tomorrow.
Not sure how much of a rest they will be, I intend to explore Newcastle a bit. The little of it I have already seen appeals to me and it will be interesting to see what I think after a closer look.
Carboneras-Cabo de Gata-Nijar (2016-01-19 23:47)
2 years ago I was walking through Spain. Luckily it was southern Spain and much warmer than northern Europe! 🙂 I was 9 months into the walk and enjoying it immensely, with close to 6000 km under my belt. Today, I am in Newcastle with only about 150 km to go before I finish at Martin Place.
Feels weird but wonderful!
Nobby’s Beach, Newcastle East (2016-01-20 11:17)
I’ve spent my rest day walking around the beaches of Newcastle.
It couldn’t have been a better day partly because I also got some surprise visitors. Anna- Maria and Hansje drove up from Sydney to visit, have a swim and enjoy some lunch with me.
Tomorrow I will start walking again, slowly…
I’m sure there will be a few more rest days before I reach Martin Place. Hope they are as nice as this one!
Newcastle Beach (2016-01-21 00:44)
Back on the road this morning, slowly heading south out of Newcastle.
My current thongs (flip-flops) ate starting to get a bit worn, but I am hoping they will last me to the finish.
So far they have survives 600 km of kickbiking and somewhere near 900 km of walking.
Now they only have to survive the last 150 km…..
Avoca Beach, New South Wales, Australia (2016-01-23 09:32)
I have had a couple of wet days but have managed to stay reasonably dry.
One night I spent in the hammock without getting wet and one night I cheated and got a cheap room at the pub at The Entrance.
I again received some great hospitality today when Byron pulled over to offer me some lunch and something to drink. He has just come back from a motorcycle trip around Australia and wanted to find out more about the-walk and at the same time pay forward some of the hospitality he had received.
I had a great lunch and chat with him and his parents and got to see his father feeding the flock of Kookaburras hanging out on their porch.
Mona Vale, Northern Beaches (2016-01-24 21:57)
One day to go….. It feels slightly unreal.
What started as a throw-away comment in a pub in Visby during the summer of 2011, grew into a more substantial idea, became a project, then a reality and is now just one day from being finished!
I’m staying with my good friends Zenita and Stephan and having a final rest day before completing the last 30 km tomorrow.
My planned finishing time is still 3 pm, tomorrow the 26th Jan, at the post office, corner of Martin Place and George St. Come see me finish or, if you can’t do that, follow the last day on Instagram, Facebook and the blog.
I’ll be trying to post updates throughout the day. At least until I reach Martin Place, then I am just going to concentrate on celebrating! 🙂
the-walk on Periscope (2016-01-25 06:31)
For those of you that either have or can get a periscope account before tomorrow, I have some good news!
I have just joined and will try to do my first live broadcast tomorrow, 26th Jan at 3 pm Australian eastern daylight savings time.
If all goes well, you will all be able to follow the finish live!
My tag on periscope is @mats _andren
Mona Vale, Northern Beaches (2016-01-25 20:37)
My trusted and faithful companion, ready to start the last day and get it done!
The Oaks Hotel (2016-01-26 03:07)
Re-fueling stop in Neutral Bay.
Not the first beer I’ve had at The Oakes but the best today! Not far to go and despite predictions, the weather is great!
Sydney Harbour Bridge (2016-01-26 04:23)
Oh so close now….
The Waterfront – Cafe and General Store (2016-02-02 04:05)
A long island och tea, lunch and great company.
Catching up with old friends and faux-relatives has kept me busy the last few days since the finish of the-walk, but I hope to write a longer post about how it feels and future plans.
Look out for it tomorrow!
Done, Done and Done! (2016-02-06 00:07)
Well, it is finally done!
I am in Sydney and have been here for almost 2 weeks already. In many ways, it still does not feel like the original “the-walk” project has been completed. I imagine that it is going to take me quite a long time to digest the implications of that and discover how it is going to impact the future.
The first thing I would like to do is to thank the countless number of people who have helped me on my journey. Friends, relatives, friends of friends, relatives friends, people I have met on the road or through the internet. There are so many of you and if there is one thing that I will take away from the-walk, it is how kind, generous and helpful people are, no matter where you are in the world. Despite the constant bombardment of horrors that is shown on the news every day, I am very glad to have had only positive experiences and have grown to appreciate the humanity of everyday people more than ever.
So thank you again!
There is some sad news though. I have parted from the Mule 2,5! Or at least the chassis. Rather than shipping it back to Sweden, I have donated it to Terra (The Happy Walk), who is going to use it for part of her walk around Australia in aid of Lifeline. Not only that, but she has agreed to try to forward it to another walker when she has finished, so maybe we will be able to follow the Mule 2,5 doing its own complete circuit of Australia! Will there be a Mule 3.0 in my future….
Looks very likely!
In just 2 days, I will be leaving Sydney and heading to Kuala Lumpur. I just finished packing Stan, the kickbike, and hope to be able to outfit it with some serious touring equipment in KL. A proper rack with waterproof panniers, along with a waterproof backpack, some new wires and possibly new handlebars. If all goes well, I will then have time for a short tour of the Cameron Highlands, before finally hopping on a plane and flying back to Sweden.
Back to Stockholm and back to work. I am very lucky that I can head back to some interesting work as it is very much a necessity right now. I basically need the money!
I have naturally been thinking a lot about the future and how I would like to continue living my life. The problem is that I have yet to arrive at a conclusion. I know that I want to keep travelling and living a minimalistic life but I am far from sure in what way. There are so many ideas and possibilities crowding each other in my mind at the moment that I am unable to decide. Probably just as well.
I am giving serious thought to making the-walk a complete circumnavigation of the world even though it would have to be done in stages and would probably take quite a few years to complete. Not only that, it would probably be interrupted with a number of different trips on kickbikes, bicycles or even kayaks. Would love to join Charlie for a week’s walking or so when he reaches Africa on his Walk for Water.
The closest I can formulate the future right now is that I am going to try to cover 100,000 human-powered kilometres exploring the world and part of that is going to be the completion of my walk around the world.
The truth is that I want to catch up to the Lost Cyclist, but don’t tell him that, he just keeps adding to his distance tally, making it harder and harder!
The one thing I know is that I will be spending a lot of time working in Stockholm in the coming 1-2 years. Although it is because of economic necessity, it will most likely also give me time to plan future adventures and hopefully time to write a book about the-walk. In fact, I would like to write 3 different books. One about the test-walk, which will be a photo-book, one about the-walk, which will be more of a travel, adventure description and finally a how-to book about long-distance walking. All projects are going to take a fair amount of time.
What this all means is that the-walk is here to stay!
Continued blog, Instagram, Facebook and newsletters all following me as I try to reach my 100,000 km goal. The blog might not be as frequent as it has been the last 3 years, but there will be updates as soon as anything happens and I hope you will all continue to read it.
There should be plenty of stuff from the coming 3 weeks and my little kickbike tour of Malaysia but there will be plenty of stuff in the future as well!
Much, much more to come…