17th April 2014 Dynamo
After 9 days at Port MacDonnell I finally got back on the road, with my cart. It may have taken ages to get delivered, but my god it was worth it. The front tyre won’t stay straight so I pushed it on the two back wheels, but that’s fine. I did 31km in 5 hours, including breaks, and the total 43km in 6 hours 50. The best part is I didn’t feel too tired after, although that’s probably something to do with having a 9 day break. It already needs a few repairs, it’s nothing professional, just a cheap buggy made for running with kids. They’ll be easy though with my sowing kit and duct tape. Also going to try and find a way to mount my iPod on the handle bars and a mirror sticking out so I can see the cars behind me. Also get my camelback straw up on the handlebars. All exciting stuff.
This morning I did a nude shop, I’d been dared to for donations by my brother. Was a good laugh really, few odd looks obviously.
I met the coolest couple of greying nomads at my campsite; (a park at Carpenter Rocks) Lorraine and Peter, the fed me and we talked for hours. I may look into star signs, they made a lot of sense about that.
18th April 2014 Fluctuation
Woke up and had breakfast on my own and was then offered coffee from Lorraire and Pete. They really are the nicest people. They gave me $50 which I’m not allowed to give to charity, I have to spend it on myself apparently. They also gave me some cigarettes and an opal to give to the next girl I fall for apparently.
The issue however, was after such great company, to set off out on long stretches of road, empty but for cars full of what seems like an alien species, you feel pretty alone. Even worse was my Spot GPS device is broken and apparently they can’t send a new one to me, only to my home in London, and it should arrive in 3 weeks. So a device which is meant to save me if I get bitten by a snake in the middle of nowhere, is broken, and they can only send me a replacement to the other side of the planet…not cool. So after a noticeably slower pace than yesterday I arrived back in Mount Gambier to buy a replacement.
I’m camped in the park because I didn’t want to face the same campsite again, not in this mood. And I just called mum. I’m back where I was 13 days ago but have only walked for 3 days! Frustrated, lonely, feeling shit, nearly at breaking point mentally. I just want this f**king walk to end. I was trying to justify quitting so I called mum who didn’t want me to do this in the first place, so hoping she’d tell me it was fine to head home now. My step-dad picked up and reinforced what mum had said before, that whatever I do, I’ve done amazingly already, they’re proud of me and above all else I should have fun. Mum came on the line and said the opposite of what I expected, but exactly what I needed to hear. “You need to finish this. It’s crap now, but it probably won’t be for the next 3 weeks, and even if it is, it’s 3 weeks, then it’s over. 3 weeks is nothing, and if you quit now you’ll spend the rest of your life wishing you hadn’t.”
I was surprised, but motivated, call me a mummy’s-boy, but she’s the best! I’ve resolved to spend the $50 from Lorraine and Pete on a proper breakfast tomorrow.
20th April 2014
With a new spot device and a rest day (needed to sort out my head) I jumped on a bus to get me back on track of where I’d been. Not before getting an amazing breakfast at The Whistling Cat which is incredible. (I have vowed to give trip advisor reviews to everywhere I’ve gone). I got off at Millicent and walked for 15km until it got late. I camped in a little village called Rendelsham, on the village green under a willow tree. Possibly my favourite campsite. There’s an owl sat about 5 meters away from me. Still feeling a bit lonely but otherwise it’s a good day.
21st April 2014
Walked the rest of the way to Beachport today. Only 22km but it went really slowly, I’m not really sure why. I think time just dragged on. It’s a middle distance, not long enough to take the whole day, but long enough to make waiting to get there a drag.
Met a South African in a coffee shop who asked how far I’d walked. Turns out he saw me in Millicent. Being South African, he approved of what I was doing… apparently they’re into this sort of thing.
Quite a few drivers were either hooting encouragement or don’t like me, who knows.
22nd April 2014 Eventful
Barely slept last night. No idea why but my brain wouldn’t shut up. So having meant ot get an early start on my 51km day, I actually left my tent to have a shower at 7:30am. It was the Tuesday after Easter so all the families in the campsite with a few more days holiday were enjoying cooked breakfasts and company.
As I came back from the showers thinking about how watery my porridge was going to be I spied a pot of salt on my chair. Thinking that someone was trying to offload crap on me I diverted from tent-wards to chair-wards, only to see that along with the salt, there was also: pepper, a plate, a knife, fork, two pieces of toast, a fried egg, and four rashers of bacon. I looked around trying to to work out which tent my fried Easter egg was from, no one there.
To cook me breakfast was one thing, not to wait around for thanks was another level of generosity… Unless it’s poisoned… I turned my chair to face the direction I believed the food to have come from, seasoned it and was just about to burst the yolk when I heard ‘Would you like tea or coffee?’ from behind me. I turned, careful not to tip the plate, there stood behind me was an old, but strong looking man, with the air of someone setting an injured bird free after restoring it to health. Basically a grandad figure.
I leapt at the chance of a coffee but told him I wasn’t going the let him wait on me, and if it were okay I’d like to come and sit and have breakfast with him.
“This way then” and he set off.
I followed him through my campsite and past two more. Realising I hadn’t seen this guy or spoken to him. He had no clue what I was doing or why and yet he was being so kind. He owned a cabin/caravan on the campsite. Once there he made me sit down and introduced himself as Lawrence and asked about me.
Once I was finished with my now scripted story, (having told it so often) I asked about him. When I wrote this in my journal I bullet pointed it because I was in no state of mind to write it properly, I felt I needed to reflect on it first.
Lawrence had turned 70 two days earlier, he was a farmer from inland Victoria. For those who don’t know, that would have meant his main farming years were spent throughout the decades of drought which Australia experienced, far from an easy job. He grew up in a boarding school and had the opportunity to work in the city but when his dad died in the 70s he went to take over the family farm. He told me that he adored his job, because “Without any arrogance, I can say: I feed 2,000 people all year every year.” His only regret is that his son, or more accurately his sons wife, doesn’t want to live as a farmer and so the family farm will be sold when he dies. He was diagnosed with high-grade non-hodgkin lymphoma a year before. During an operation to remove the cancer, the tumour fell down his trachea and he had to have an emergency tracheostomy which in turn collapsed his lung. He could now no longer work (I sense this may be why he cooked me breakfast, so he felt like he was feeding someone again), and to make matters worse the tumour had come back and it looked like he was fighting a losing battle.
This all shook me pretty deeply as I left with a bar of chocolate, a $20 donation and the wish that I’d gotten a photo of him.
Ahead of me I had a 50km walk and it was 09:30am when I left. I did make good speed though… until two cops turned up. Someone had called thinking a mad guy was following kids down the highway. All was fine in the end, the policeman thought I was safe enough and I gave him my phone number in case he got any other calls.
Later my knee started to hurt loads again, then my GPS broke. Feeling crap and it getting dark, I was still 10km away from Robe. I pulled into a farmhouse and asked if I could pitch my tent in their front garden. Instead the couple insisted they drive me into town, which wasn’t ideal but they seemed very sure that they didn’t want me camping on their lawn.
I socialised and smoked a few cigarettes with some Irish people at the campsite and hit the hay, pretty drained.