Me and the Food

Today I spent eight hours getting the food packed up and organised for my brain injury hike. 

This is a typical ration for one day:

Some of the meals have dried vegetables in them and then there’s the dried fruit. The fruit and veggies went from this:

To this:

Then it all ended up looking like this:

Packing up the food isn’t my favourite thing. I get quite anxious over it. I’m not running around with my arms flailing about, knocking into walls while crying and screaming or anything, but I do worry about getting it exactly right (I can’t handle the thought of having to go without my dinner!) That’s not at all helped by the high fire danger in just about all the areas I’ve planned to walk in. I’ve had to remap the route twice due to national parks getting closed to walkers due to the high fire danger. It was kind of annoying, well, a lot annoying, but at least I had enough time to plan alternatives and I haven’t lost my shit at all yet, which is pretty damn awesome! I did almost start crying the other day when three people in a row, who were your basic big ol’ meanies, were really mean to me when I asked for their help about camping, but then I met someone nice, who was happy to help me, so I got over being upset about the three big ol’ meanies. My idea of a big ol’ meanie is probably not your idea of a big ol’ meanie, but if you read this post, you might get where I’m coming from.

From adventure it begins



Bik pla bagarup

Tok pisin for a major bugger-up.

Bik pla bagarup on Fraser Island: ACCESS DENIED due to fire hazard until the 5th of October. I was so, so, so excited when I got this message from QPWS today. I was jumping for joy because it wasn’t like my entire charity hike was depending on me being able to complete this section of the route or anything. POO BUM WEE X 100.

Now I really do have to go the long way around through Maryborough and on to Rainbow Beach. It’s around an extra 15km, so not too bad I guess if the distance matters, which it doesn’t, it’s the other things that mattered, well, to me anyway. I imagined swimming in lakes, relaxing at a nice campsite and having access to endless water. I’ll have to drive ahead now and waypoint campsites along the road and leave water ahead of myself. At least much of the road to Rainbow from Maryborough is forestry.

I am really hoping they don’t close the Cooloola Great Walk too because how will I get water if I have to walk along the beach? I can’t carry enough for water for five days. The walkers campsites have watertanks and there are a couple of perched lakes along the way, but there’s nothing like that on the beach. I’m not going to worry about it and when I do, I think of this:

My Nootie on the beach this morning. Nootie also known as March. Nootie is her stealth name, so when she’s in covert operations, she’s invisible because that’s what nooties are; invisible.

Hopefully no more bik pla bagarups are on the cards. This is the kind of shit you just can’t plan for. Ugh 😦

Adventure teaches equanimity



I tricked it AGAIN!

I just tricked fakebook again! Am I awesome or what!. I set up a personal fundraiser in response to the request of a few people who said they’d like to help out with my brain injury charity hike expenses:

Camping permits on Great Walks $56
Barge and ferry transfers $50
Train back home $60
Food $200
Fuel for mapping route (2700km – 3 trips) $200
Printed marketing material $150
Plus other bits and pieces
TOTAL: $716

Fakebook won’t allow you to mention certain words when you’ve got a personal fundraiser. There’s no way to know what these words are, you just have to guess or work it out from multiple failed attempts, which is an excellent way to waste half your life. I’d wasted a fair bit of my life by trying to set up a personal fundraiser before, so I thought I could get around the word-based restrictions, but the damn thing picked up on the word ‘charity’, which was on a sign in a photo. WTF!!!!

Anyway, so I tricked it by posting the exact same fundraiser, but I scrubbed out the word charity from the photo. See below.


   What’s the difference?


Innovation comes by way of adventure

Me and the Road

I wanted to do something cool today, but couldn’t come up with anything, so I decided to walk to Childers. It was a good opportunity to try out the sign I had made for the back of my pack for the charity hike I’m about to do. I also thought I should re-familiarise myself with hiking along the road.

It was cheating a bit because I got dropped off 16km out from Childers AND the pack only weighed around 10kg. I imagine it’ll weigh at least twice that when I get going on the actual hike. PLUS, I had a chocolate thickshake when I arrived in Childers after only 3.5 hours of walking. .

It’s been three years since I did my last charity hike along the road and man, I’d forgotten how damn terrible walking along the road is! There’s two reasons why it sucks: one is the traffic and the other is the shoulders. The shoulders are nearly always sloping and that makes the going very difficult because even though the slope is only really slight it’s enough to put extra pressure on one side of your body. I don’t have bad knees, even so, this does get to my knees after a bit. There’s nothing I can do about it though, so I just have to suck it up. I can’t do anything about the traffic either. After all, that’s what the road is there for. It’s hard to describe what it’s like until you’ve hiked along the road. It gives you a totally new perspective of being a motorist. Some of the stuff people do on the road is pretty unbelievable. The overtaking is the craziest. It’s for that reason that I try to walk only on the left. I nearly got hit by this crazy overtaking mofo on my last charity hike. You just get to see stuff when you’re walking that you don’t see when you’re driving. Some of it is a real eye-opener!

I didn’t really see anything particularly interesting on the 16km other than a dead bearded dragon. Poor thing 😦 I picked him up and put him in the bush near the road so he wouldn’t get all smooshed up. He’d only just been hit.

I snuck into an avocado farm and walked along the edge of the plantation for a fair way to avoid a section of road with almost no shoulder. I always get scared when I do these cheeky maneuvers  because I don’t want to get into trouble, but no one came out ranting and raving. At least  I’ve got the sign this time. I didn’t have that on the last charity hike I did.

I took this photo because it’s quintessentially Childers; cane bales set to go to fibre production with canefields in background.

While I was walking I got to wondering what it is about hiking that I like. I think the main thing that gets me is that it allows me to rise above all else because when I’m hiking, there is only hiking. I can’t go and do just one more thing (something I do to get past feeling unmotivated), I can’t tell myself that in ten minutes I will go get the washing off the line, send one more email, write 100 more words, and I can’t go and have a little lay down. I just have to keep hiking because that’s all there is. It basically absolves me of all of my responsibilities, which means I don’t worry about anything at all while I’m hiking because what would be the point? Ultimatley, it’s a way to free my mind.

Free your mind by way of adventure




450km and Brain Injury Awareness Week


This week it’s Brain Injury Awareness Week. Yay for my brain, yay for yours and yay for the collective brain. Insert fist bump or maybe brain bump here.

If you saw me you’d never think I had a disability. That’s what it’s like to live with what is known as the Invisible Disability: the prosopagnosia, the dyschronometria, which still impact me and the aphasia and dysphasia of the early days are buried behind the “normality” of my appearance. So is the severe spatial reasoning deficit, the compromised working memory, emotional hyperactivity and the grand old executive functioning deficit. I’m not providing any definitions for these things because I was given none when I was discharged from hospital and I had to work out from scratch what the hell was wrong with me.

See, no one told me I had a brain injury. They just packed me off home with instructions to sort out my things and prepare for imminent death. They literally said that to me. One doctor patted me on the back of the hand, nodding and smiling as she said, “now, you just go home and sort out your things. I won’t need to see you anymore.” Then she turned on her heel and walked off into the waiting room full of people, all of them looking up to her with hope in their faces as she floated by. I looked at the big window in front of me and wondered if anyone would notice or care if I just smashed my way through and fell four stories to the concrete below.

I did smash my way through, not the window, but life instead. I refused to believe that I would die and I nearly lost the fight several times, but I’m still here, stronger and better than I ever was before. What happened to me changed me, my life and the lives of those who chose to stick around when things got really hard. There’s no going back to the way things were before and that was so difficult to accept. I lost a lot and sometimes I still lose, but that’s ok because that’s what life is, not just because I’m brain injured, but because that’s what happens when you’re a member of the human race.

I never really understood disability before I became brain injured. I certainly had no idea what being brain injured meant for a person’s life and the wide-reaching impact that it could have on their families, friends and communities in general. There are over 700 000 Australians living with brain injury and I’m one of them. So are my friends in my local STEPS support group. I see what my friends struggle with and that’s why I’m reaching out to everyone I know and everyone I don’t know to help me raise $40 000 to support what The PA Research Foundation does through STEPS:

I’m walking 450km on my own from my home in Woodgate to the Brisbane CBD to kick off my fundraising. This map involved physical cutting and pasting (like we all did in primary school), photography and drawing. This is what happens when you’re not a cartographer and don’t want to spend a week trying to get Google Maps to do what you want it to do. As a result, this map sucks, but for the itinerary click here.

An adventure I will make


Me and the Mountain

Yesterday I climbed a mountain. I almost didn’t do it because I looked it up online and saw that it was only 5km and thought, bah! that’s a waste of time!  It was much harder than I thought it was going to be. It also took much longer than I expected it to and afterwards I felt kind of dumb for thinking that it would be easy and I was glad I hadn’t expressed any of this to anyone before I went and did the climb.

I’d climbed Mt Walsh when I was in grade 10 back in 1992 and I can’t recall it being as hard as it was yesterday. I’m not sure the school would have had us scurrying up sheer rock faces and lowering ourselves into short ravines, only to climb back up the other side across obstacles and slippery rock faces, all without any kind of climbing or safety equipment or really any discernible skill. But hey, it was the nineties and everyone was still clambering their way back to sanity after suffering through the eighties and those horrendous hair-dos. Who knows and who cares, I certainly don’t.  It was really the only useful thing I did at high school (apart from learning how to type). Mr Goodall taught us how to rock climb and abseil and I’ve never forgotten that. Those climbing lessons have come in handy so many times. “Three points of contact Jenny! he shouted at me. “Don’t let go until you know where you’re going to contact next and pay attention to where you’re going. Make sure the path you’ve picked up the rock face isn’t impassable. Geoff! Don’t grab vegetation. Katrina, what are you doing, you’re dangling in mid-air. What’s Chris doing over there? Ohhhh, come on! Don’t climb trees, Chris! What just happened? Ohhhh,quick, get the stretcher. Keith’s broken his leg!” Keith really did break his leg, but I don’t think he fell off the mountain. I think he just tripped over his own feet walking to the toilet.

As I started to ascend the mountain, gunfire from the nearby rifle range (where we’d camped in year 10) echoed off the bluffs. The higher I went the more I began to imagine that the sound would loose an avalanche of ancient rock that would crush and cover me and that my car would sit alone, abandoned and dusty in a carpark in the middle of nowhere. Rusty it would become throughout the years until it would be hauled away by the big flood of 2035. All of this brought on by my recent reading of The Outsider by Stephen King. This kind of thing is the reason why I had to tone down my reading of books by Stephen King and Dean Koontz. My imagination has a “slight” tendency to run away with me. It’s been doing this since I was a little kid.

The mountain was awesome! I got a bit scared when I got to the rope because I wasn’t sure if I could get up that section of the rock face, let alone get back down it and I almost turned around and went back. I said outloud, “No, that’s just being a pussy.” And I made myself do it. It really wasn’t that scary and neither was coming down.

There were a couple of worse sections up the mountain a bit further and I was ever so thankful for my extra, extra long legs and arms. See, the thing is: I’m actually quite afraid of heights and I knew it would be a bit scary doing this climb by myself because I only had myself to rely on. I’ve just finished reading Write Way Home by Hedley Derenzie, and on the mountain I thought of what she said about no one coming for me, because nobody would be coming for me if I got stuck, so I simply had to make it work. I don’t know if I would have pushed myself so hard if I knew that the cool guy I’m married to could come and rescue me if I got into trouble.

Climbing this mountain also made me recognise how important the effort I put into training is. I don’t like weight training that much, because mostly I think, what’s the point of even bothering with this? and it’s a massive effort to force myself to do it every second day. I particularly hate shoulder presses, but it’s the strength I’ve built by doing shoulder presses that allowed me to hoist myself easily up sections of the mountain that maybe once I wouldn’t have been able to climb. It’s the squats and hundreds of ab exercises I do every week that gave me the stability to get down the mountain in one piece (even though I fell over once) and it’s the general tenacity with which I approach my sometimes extreme training regime that allows me to do things like climb mountains on my own and force myself through fears that at some point in the past would have most definitely held me back.

I love it when I can see how all the the little things I do come together in a way that I never actually thought of, creating synergies where none previously existed. I’ll never be someone who is the best at one thing (certainly not shoulder press), but that’s ok because I’m not seeking perfection or the calibre of excellence in anything I do. Rather, I’m active in the pursuit of living a life that matters; a life spent adventuring and climbing mountains both real and figurative. A life where nobody is coming for me, so it’s up to me to embrace fear, discomfort and adversity and get on with being the person I set out to be; someone who never gives in, albeit someone who might have the tendency to underestimate mountains.

“In the end, you won’t remember the time you spent working in the office or mowing your lawn. Climb that goddamn mountain.” ― Jack Kerouac






I Tricked Facebook

Haha! I did it, I tricked fakebook.

I set up a personal fundraiser the other day that was rejected by fakebook because it thought that I was using the personal fundraising platform to raise money for a not-for-profit. Obviously they aren’t humans reviewing the fundraisers, but bots, because they picked up on the wording of my story and didn’t like it.

This time I used different wording for THE SAME fundraiser and it slipped right by them. Sucked in you stupid bots!

Click here to see my subversive fundraiser, which isn’t actually subversive at all.

I’m fundraising to buy this tent for a 450km charity hike I’m doing for brain injury:

Nemo Hornet from Wild Earth at Burleigh Heads Qld