I walked 375km from Mt Perry to Toowomba in 2016 and my awesome friend just reminded me that today is the three year anniversary of my arrival. I did that hike to raise money for a brain cancer research program run by the QIMR Berghofer Medical Research Institute in Brisbane. I’ve written a book about the hike called One Foot After the Other. Hopefully it’ll be available for purchase in the first half of 2020.
Me arriving in Toowoomba in 2016
I learnt some pretty cool shit on that hike. Mostly that it’s ok for stuff to be hard, and there’s no reason to be worried about being scared because although fear might feel like crap, fear itself can’t actually hurt you.
Another interesting thing I learnt is that everything in the bush sounds about a thousand times bigger than it actually is and a thousand times closer than it actually is, especially at night. So, you might hear this giant crashing right next to your tent, but if you were to go outside and investigate you might see a baby echidna making its way through the undergrowth about ten mentres away. Ohhh, cute, you might say, but right before that you imagined that a team of velociraptors were closing in because that’s what it sounded like. This happened to me here:
Campsite at Bum Bum creek in 2016.
Here I imagined all kinds of scenarios including a dairy-turned-drug lab-turned-people smuggling racket, an Aussie Fargo and killer ants. All of this because the driveway to a dairy was nearby, but not as close as I imagined it to be. All of this because I heard a chainsaw start up right near my tent, but it was actually probably more than a kilometre away (I certainly couldn’t see it from where I was camped) and all of this because about six big ants got on my tent.
Other campsites have their own stories, like having to sleep between two “murder dungeons” and at another place, braving an infestation of mice and the associated shit, then at a hotel, having to put my sleeping bag on top of the covers of the bed because it looked like the sheets had NEVER been changed, and not being able to say anything about it because I’d been given the room for free.
It was all pretty interesting because I had no way to know what to expect at the next campsite, especially if it was a spot where I knew I’d come across other people. For example, I met the self-proclaimed Messiah, who was also an alien and on the run from the cops at one location, the World’s Biggest Whinger at another and was kidnapped in a friendly way from the side of the highway at yet another. I ate homemade pizza with a family I’d never met before and at another family’s home, played with their five children when they arrived home from school.
Rural view in 2016. I’m pretty sure this was from the rail trail on the way to Kingaroy
I don’t know why, but I thought that the 450km hike I’m about to set off on would be much the same as the 2016 hike, at least in terms of logistics, but it’s not. I’ve had to change everything around about sixteen billion times and am still trying to find places to stay at a couple of the locations. Not only that, I have to keep coming off the trail for various reasons, which isn’t something I did at all in 2016, which makes me feel like I’m cheating, even though I’m not because I get dropped off right back where I was picked up.
The closures of the Fraser Island Great Walk and the Cooloola Great Walk have presented the biggest challenges because that’s how I was meant to get to the Sunshine Coast to avoid the hiway. I’ve worked a way around it, but it’s not as interesting as doing the two walks along the coast. It’s a 90km loop from my house. Ooooh, exciting:
You: What did you see?
Me: The same sand I see every day of the week.
You: Then what?
Me: The same road I drive on twice a week to get into Bundaberg
You: And then?
Me: Well, that’s it because I was back home after 90km of boring-ass crap!
I should have been seeing perched lakes, like Lake McKenzie and sand blows like Carlo Sand Blow. Ohhh, poor me.
It’s less than a week until I leave: the 17th of September. It’s come around so fast because it’s been so much work to organise. The walking part is the easy part, it’s the other stuff that seems to be neverending. I can’t imagine what it must be like to work out the logistics of a long hike in a country that you’ve never been to where you don’t have friends to help out.