Brain Injury Hike Last Lap

Fundraising and Awareness Hike: 450km total

22nd of October to 25th of October 2019

The cool guy I’m married to dropped me off in Dayboro, which meant I skipped the long walk from D’Aguilar to Dayboro. That suited me because I was a bit worried about the road into Dayboro. I had decided to get there by a back road and I wasn’t one hundred percent certain that the map I had would be accurate when I actually got out in the middle of nowhere. I had to make up the lost kilometres and I did this by going on a walk when I got home that afternoon and by walking around in Brisbane when I came back for a function after the walk had ended.

As I was about to start walking in Dayboro, a nice lady came up and wanted to give me a donation, but had to go to the IGA to get cash out. As we waited for her I spotted a group of people on the footpath with a little stand. “I think it’s Jehovah’s Witnesses,” I said to the cool guy. After the nice lady had given me the donation I said goodbye to the cool guy and started walking. I wanted to see what the JWs would say to me when I walked past. They said nothing! They just stared at me. I was disappointed. I wanted to have a lovely chat with them about my existential beliefs. Oh well, too bad for them.

I only got about 100 metres down the road before I stopped chatting to three guys having a coffee: Rick, Gavin and Farmer Jim. I ended up sitting down with them and getting a coffee myself. The cool guy drove past and beeped. I waved at him and Rick said, “Do you know that fella?” “Yeah, he’s my husband,” I said. The cool guy told me later that he’d already driven past the cafe once and Rick had waved at him, so it probably looked a bit weird that he was driving past AGAIN and beeping this time. I sat with them for ages and had a really good chat about lots of stuff. I really wish I could just wander up to random people in non-hiking life and start talking to them as though we’d always been friends just like I did with the three dudes in Dayboro.

At the top of the hill I couldn’t remember if I was meant to turn left or right, so I called into the cop shop to ask which way to go. The copper was an older guy, but man-oh-man did he look good in that uniform! [It’s a pity about this. If I saw this guy again now, I’d not think the same thing. I had some very negative experiences with the Qld Police Force in the recent State of Emergency in my town and it has changed the way I see them].

The road to Mount Samford was really good. A beautiful lady stopped in a ute and I talked to her for ages. Her name was Sonya and she was the CMC for Pine Rivers. She gave me a huge pile of coins from her car ashtray, which I tried to deposit later at Samford, only to be told that the post office isn’t allowed to accept coins. Funny, I’d deposited about $100 more coins in Glasshouse without a problem. I wonder what she would have done if I wanted to pay for something with coins.

It didn’t take that long to get to the campsite. I set everything up and went and had a look in the bush. I thought that this might be the spot that I find a dead body. It wasn’t. I’ve been looking for one since I was a kid. I don’t want to find a gross, rotten, maggoty thing, but probably a skeleton or one that’s almost a skeleton. I was going on and on about his one day on a field trip bus at uni and the dude in front of me said that he’d actually found a dead body in a cave once. It wasn’t fair, why is he so lucky, I thought. Sounds twisted, right? That’s because it is and I’m OK with that.

The bush around the campsite was pretty cool. I found a washout with steps cut into the side of it, so I climbed up and followed a winding track. At the top of a hill there was an old blue tarp tepee. Further along there was another structure that had fallen down. It was probably a tepe once too.

I was so hungry that I ended up eating my dinner at 4.30pm. I packed everything up, so the only thing visible at the campsite was my tent. I was secure in the idea that no one would come along, but I was wrong. I was so glad I’d packed all my crap up because a lady came running down the hill with her staffy. I quickly darted behind the tent because all of a sudden it seemed really important that nobody see me. I thought that would be it; she’d turn around an just run away, but no; she kept running down, turning around and doing the same thing over and over again. I was pretty sure she hadn’t seen me, but then for her last lap she got another dog from somewhere and it tried to run over to where I was, so she then saw my camp. I was really annoyed! I hate the idea that people know where I’m camping, especially when it’s in the middle of nowhere like this was. At least she didn’t see me, so she had no way to know that I was a lone female and I know from experience that she would have assumed I was a man. Not that she would be a threat to me necessarily, but if she had a big mouth and went telling people that she’d seen me down there, then that could be a problem. Everything was fine though.

Campsite at Mount Samson

The next day I walked to Samford. The road had a lot of treasures on it. There were lots of number plates, but most of them were twisted and broken, so I didn’t pick them up. I also found half a cloven hoof, a colourful fingernail, a five cent piece, then a tent cent piece and a parcel that must have fallen off a delivery truck. I was hopeful I could deliver it, but the numbers were going the wrong way, so I rang the phone number on the delivery docket and told the guy that I’d leave it under the Welcome to Samford sign. He came along a bit later and said thankyou. He talked a lot about the building that the thing I found was for and how it was a drama to build it because of the huge roof angle.

I got quite a few donations off the road on my way to Samford, actually it was probably the most generous road that I walked along on the entire hike.

Myles from Mt Mee stopped and said hi. It felt really good to see him again for some reason, like he was an old friend or something. Another man stopped to ask what I was doing. He was interested because he and his husband were carers for disabled people and they were on the way to a picnic they’d organised for some of the people they cared for. He later gave me a donation via the PA fundraising platform. A bit further along a man pulled up in a ute ahead of me. He got out and started walking in my direction saying, “I’ve got a donation: $100.” He looked so much like Samuel Johnson (who I’ve always really liked) that I thought it was actually him – it wasn’t – but he was still a nice guy. His name was Aaron and he told me that he had a brain injury from an aneurysm. He said he was just sitting on the couch watching TV and all of a sudden it felt like someone hit him over the head with a baseball bat.

I really wanted to get a sars when I arrived in Samford, but I couldn’t find any. I walked past some people having lunch at a cafe and asked them about sars and if they knew where I might find some. They couldn’t help me, but I ended up sitting down and talking to them for a while. They were on holidays from America and Canada. Once again, it would be great if I could push forward with the idea that I can just wander up to random people and start chatting to them while they’re having a meal or a coffee in non-hiking life. After I left them I went over to the Injinji shop to see what their stuff was like. I really should have come back to Samford and bought my trailrunning shoes here, rather than Athletes Foot. The Saucony shoes I bought cost me $220 and a big hole ripped in the upper in the first twenty minutes of my using them. I’ve had to sew them up myself because the store and Saucony said I misused them. Aaaaaaarrrrrrghhhhhh. OK, whatever…now moving on (hopefully).

I went to meet the lady I had arranged to stay with; my friend Tiiu. I’d met Tiiu previously when I’d come through Samford asking about places to camp. She was volunteering at the tourist information centre that day, so it was great that our paths crossed. She had a brain injury too and I felt very strongly that we had forged a meaningful connection when we first met.

I left my pack with Tiiu, and armed with directions for the supermarket, headed off in search of sars. When I got there I got into a good discussion with a lady in her seventies who had been protesting against the Adani mine. She was wearing a Stop Adani t-shirt. Peter Garrett wore one of these (amongst others) when I saw Midnight Oil in concert a while back. The Stop Adani lady and I talked about activism and I told her how I’ve never really been a frontline activist for the environment, even though I’ve always cared very much about environmental issues (afterall, I have an environmental science degree). I see my role in activism as providing a lived example of how to become liberated from fear and apathy, which I believe hold us back from living meaningful lives and also hold us back as a society from achieving both the small and large goals that will allow us to overcome the big problems that we are now facing and will continue to face into the future.

After the D&M I got the sars: YAY!! and headed back to Tiiu at the tourist information centre, so we could go to her house in a neighbouring suburb. I had no idea where I was in terms of geography, so it was good to have her driving me around.

I had a great time at Tiiu’s place. Her two kids, Toby and Ava were really cool. Ava gave up her bed for me and Toby kept me on my toes with hilarious puns all night. He came in from the bus, walked straight to the fridge, got an egg out, and holding it aloft, said, “I hope its going to be “eggseptional evening.” It was total crack up. (get it).

The next day Tiiu decided to walk with me. We had to head back into Samford to start from there again:

Me organising my crap and looking at the map in Samford. Photo: Tiiu

Tiiu and I ready to go in front of the tourist information centre. Photo: some random person.

I had a great time walking with Tiiu. I felt like I’d been best friends with her my whole life. At one point we even said the same thing at exactly the same time. We “got” each other in a way that only comes from shared adversity. Tiiu stopped walking at a shopping centre to catch a bus back to Samford and I continued on to The Gap.

I’d originally planned to catch a bus some of the way into The Gap because I wasn’t happy about the narrow shoulder on the big hill. After walking up Mt Mee I felt like I should just do it because I knew that nothing could beat the Mt Mee road for harem-scarem.

At The Gap I walked past a group of school children being led along by their teachers. I smiled at the teachers and did small waves to the children. The teachers looked at and looked away again as quickly as they could. The kids did the same, but I could tell it was hard for them not stare at me. At the end of the long line of kids I said hello and smiled to the person I thought was probably a teacher’s aide, but she totally ignored me and looked straight ahead as though she had no idea I even existed. Nice.

I’d arranged to stay with a lady (Deanne) I’d never met through one of my neighbours. She’d told me to meet her at Coles, but I had no idea where it was, so at the servo I asked a lady fueling up if she knew. She said she’d just take me straight to Deanne’s house, which was really nice of her.

That night we all went out for dinner because I’d arranged another Facebook event at The Gap Tavern, which no one came to aside from a lady whom my friend Shanny sent along. Still, it was a good night and I ate lots of food, which was very kindly bought for me by Deanne and her husband, Simon. As I was leaving the table to go to the bathroom, I heard someone say, “I couldn’t even eat that much!” I was so totally sick of damn muesli bars by this stage. It was good to eat real food again and I felt it necessary to eat as much as physically possible while it was available!

The next day as I was walking, I felt like the biggest weirdo of all time because everyone kept looking at me like I was a freak. Some young women, all of whom we wearing too much makeup laughed at me as I passed by and said hello.

I got a good laugh at one point though. I’m still getting mileage out of it. I walked past a school and the bell hadn’t gone yet, so all the kids were playing on the oval. One little boy (about seven or eight) was running along the fence with his friends and his hat had his name on it: Cooper Jones. He ran right up to the fence where I was walking and I said, “hello, Cooper,” and just kept walking. It freaked him right out! It was awesome!

Down the road a bit, a nice man stopped mid-jog and gave me a donation and even further down the road a lovely elderly man gave me a rather large donation because he was utterly gobsmacked by what I was doing. He kept patting me on the shoulder and telling me that he just couldn’t believe it. It kind of felt like he was patting me that way because he was testing to see if I was actually real and not just an apparition.

Next, a nice lady called Felicity stopped her car to come and talk to me about her son, Hayden, who’d been brain injured and how hard things had gotten for them since. She’d actually done several u-turns to get to where I was. I gave her a card so she could donate online later.

As I closed in on the city it fell on me that the whole thing was almost over:

At the CBD I wanted to tell everyone how great I was, and even though the city was full of people, I didn’t think I could. I got some tourists to take this photo of me:

I wandered around in the Queen Street Mall for a fair while because I had to meet the STEPS Coordinator, Sue at 1pm so we could go and see the Minister of Health: the Hon. Dr Seven Miles. I had “brunch” at a fancy cafe, which was right next to the Tattersalls Club and talked to a really nice older man there about hiking. He’d never been hiking before and wanted to start. It was nice to have someone so interested in the hiking part of what I was doing. He asked me to demonstrate how to take the pack off and put it back on again. I got him to lift it up and he was a bit scared about how heavy it was. “If you’re hiking with other people, your pack doesn’t need to have absolutley everything in it because you can share the load. Plus, I’ve walked 450km, so I needed a lot of stuff for such a distance,” I said, and he nodded, but I could still see he was a bit worried. “Don’t even worry about it. Once the pack is on your back and you’ve started moving, you really don’t even know it’s there,” I said. It’s hard to believe this, but it’s actually true.

I went back out into the mall and a random person shoved $5 at me and kept walking. I didn’t even get to see their face! It was really funny. At the Pen Shoppe I got talking to the ladies working there and they gave me a donation too. I’ve always loved that shop. I have a bit of a weird obsession with pens (I have a small chest of three drawers that is FULL of pens and it’s so hard to not keep buying more). I have it with paper too, but I’ve had to set that one aside because it’s very hard to find nice writing paper these days.

Finally it was time to meet Sue and we walked over to the Minister’s office to see him. Sue said he wanted to come on a walk with me. We waited for him with his sidekick, Riley, out the front. A fit looking man about my age strode up wearing a Deadly Choices shirt, shorts and a pair of runners. “You’re not what I was expecting,” I said and he laughed. I really thought he’d be a fat old guy in a suit. I really liked him and we talked about heaps of everyday stuff on a fast walk over the bridge. I felt a bit sorry for Sue and Riley as I knew it was probably a bit hard for them to keep up. When we arrived, two people from the PA Research Foundation were waiting to meet us: Damien (CEO) and Meredith (Marketing Coordinator). Everyone from the PA was really happy to have the opportunity to speak to the minister because it’s not something they would normally be able to do.

The Health Minister and me on our walk across the bridge. He ran back to the office after this.

Damien very kindly bought me a thickshake after the minister had left and we sat around a bit until it was time to leave. Sue dropped me back at the Roma Street station with another bag of corn chips. I had to catch the train back to Bundaberg. As I travelled I saw places I’d been on the hike and it made me nostalgic for what had just been.

I wish it could always be like the hike; the feeling that I’m doing something at least a little bit worthwhile. I wonder if the people I saw, smiled at and spoke to will remember me. I wonder what it might be like to have perfect recall and what my brain is like now. Is smarter than it was before part of it was cut out; both less and more at the same time? Less because some of it is missing, more because of the connections that have grown in through all that I’ve done since becoming brain injured. I long to see myself objectively, but I know this is impossible. I want to know how it is that I appear to others; in my actions, my words, my mannerisms and my pursuits. How am I perceived?

As the train pulled in at Bundaberg I thought I caught a glimpse of the person who was picking me up, there he is! I thought and I smiled, but when I got out of the train, it wasn’t him because the platform was empty. He’s forgotten to pick me up, I thought, disappointed, and it felt like someone had pulled the plug out of sink filled with happiness water. All the water drained right out when I saw that he was actually sitting in the car out in the carpark. He didn’t even ask if I wanted help with my stuff. I was never more sad that the cool guy I’m married to wasn’t there to share in what should have been an awesome moment to end a significant achievement. I really wanted the whole thing to end on a good note, but it didn’t and that’s not something I really had any control over, unlike the hiking itself, which I was totally in charge of.

 This song with its simple lyrics has had a big impact on me. It’s about my life (and your life too) and also about the hike:

 

THE END

 

 

Brain Injury Hike Landsborough to Caboolture 42.4km

Fundraising and Awareness Hike: 450km total

12th of October to 17th of October

My awesome friend, Shanny and I were meant to walk from Daisy’s Place into Landsborough on the 12th of October, but when we got there it started pouring rain accompanied by thunder and lightning. I decided it wasn’t safe so we called it off and Shanny’s husband, Adam ran me around all over the place to drop off some water to one of my campsites. While we were doing this I discovered that one of my campsites had been fenced off and there was no way for me to get into it. I just hoped that when I got there, I could find somewhere else safe to stay. Thankfully I hadn’t put any food drops inside the area.

Because we couldn’t walk that day, Shanny very kindly rescheduled an event I was meant to have at a cafe in Landsborough (I refuse to own an internet phone) and one of the people who had wanted to come to the cafe came into Mooloolaba instead to meet us later. She was a really cool lady and I was really glad she’d made time to come and talk to me. She’d done a lot of hiking too and it was good to talk to someone who wasn’t full of self-importance about the hikes they’d been on.

The next day I haven’t written anything in my hiking journal because I was too pissed off about what happened in the afternoon to write anything apart from swear words in big capital letters that start with the letters F and C (more about that in a minute), so I wrote most of it down the day after…It was a good day walking with Shanny from Daisy’s Place. We walked along the road for some of it and in the bush for some of it too. A lady came out from a fruit stall proffering mangoes, which neither of us really wanted, but it would have been impolite and disrespectful to refuse. All the same, it was a nice gesture. Shanny put them in her pack and told me she’d give them to her dad later on. I certainly had nowhere to put them, which was a shame because I really love mangoes. Quite a few cars beeped at us.

It’s hard for me to relax when I’m walking along the road with someone else. See, the road and I have an understanding that has grown in over weeks and weeks of trudging and I can kind of tell what sort of vehicle is coming up behind me or how fast someone is going just by paying close attention. I know exactly where to walk to stay the safest, not only from the traffic but from injuries arising from walking on uneven ground, a sloping road shoulder and slippery surfaces often littered with broken glass. Still, we got there in one piece and had a lovely morning tea with some of Shanny’s family who came to join us. I got to drive a big chocolate brownie into my face, so I was happy with that.

That afternoon, after everyone left I sent a text message to the lady who had offered for me to come and stay at her place via Facebook (the same way I’d come across Olivia and Peter – see the last post).  I told her that I’d arrived and that I was looking forward to meeting her and her husband. She responded by text message telling me that someone in her family was sick and as a result she had to fly to Sydney and that she’d forgotten to tell me that I could no longer stay with her. If she wasn’t home I could have still camped in her yard or she could have made alternative arrangements, which is exactly what happened in Rainbow Beach; my host’s mum got very sick and she had to fly out to Melbourne immediately. BUT, she knew I was coming and made arrangements for me to stay with her neighbour instead, which is probably what any NORMAL person would do. What I really think happened with this lady in Landsborough is that she didn’t want me to stay at her house and had just made up a lame excuse about it. I didn’t bother texting her back because that wouldn’t change anything and would only make me more pissed off. I didn’t hear from her again, not even to ask if I was alright. I guess that’s ok though because I didn’t bother asking her if she was alright either.

I asked a man in the cafe if he knew of anywhere to camp.

Me: (indicating pack) I’m doing a long distance charity hike and the people I was meant to be staying with have just piked on me. Do you know anywhere around here that I could camp for free?

Him: Well, if you were in Maleny, you could camp at the showgrounds.

Me: But I’m not in Maleny. (I really wanted to say, that statement is as useful as saying that if I was at home, then I could just stay in my own bed).

Him: (Looks at me in confusion) Well, the best thing to do when you’re upset is go for a walk and make sure you drink a lot of water.

Me: (In disbelief and indicating pack) Ok, good, thanks (said while restraining myself from screaming).

I left him and my pack in the cafe and went for an extremely fast walk to see if I could find somewhere else to camp. I didn’t come up with anything, so I went to the museum because I thought, they’re all volunteers, just like me, so they’ll help me. WRONG! They didn’t help and wouldn’t help and didn’t seem to particularly care even though I showed them my letter of authority from the PA Research Foundation, told them I’d walked several hundred kilometres and that I had a brain injury. “What am I meant to do then?” I asked. One of them told me to go to the Scout Camp, which was illogical for several reasons, but I realised there was no point getting into any kind of discussion with them, so I just left. I really, really wanted to yell at them, but I didn’t, which was one of the most difficult things of all time.

Eventually I found a campsite beside the church, but I had to wait until after dark to put my tent up so that nobody would see what I was doing and potentially tell me that I couldn’t do it.

I went back to get my pack, so I could take it to the pub for my Facebook event I’d scheduled for that afternoon. My “friend” from earlier was still there. I got him good because when he asked if I’d gotten myself sorted as though it would have been as easy as one-two-three,  I responded gruffly, “No. No, I did not.” and just kept walking.

The pub was pretty cool in the end. I sat there like a Nigel-No-Friends for a fair while, but got talking to some nice people after a couple of hours. I pretended that I was waiting to meet the people who had piked on me earlier and asked everyone if they knew where they lived. No one did, no one had even heard of them. I wanted to go around to their house to see if they were home, so I could legitimately call them liars later on, but I had to let it go, which wasn’t easy.

I met a nice man about my age whose leg was all mangled. He told me that he’d had a motorbike accident. “I came around a corner and ran into a truck,” he said. Later I met his mum who told me that he was a postie when it happened. “He got run over by a truck. It was my fault. I got him the job,” she said. It was awful to hear her talk like this, so I said to her, “No, it’s not your fault. It’s just something that happened.” She gave me a big hug when she left and wrote her phone number down on a beer coaster incase I needed help with anything. I’d told her the story of the pikers.

That night I got really cold in the tent. It was hard to sleep; probably because I was still pissed off, but also because I was freezing cold. Cars kept pulling up in the little carpark right in front of my tent (they couldn’t see me because I was hidden by the garden). They’d sit there for a while, then drive off. All night this went on. Only a couple of times did people get out of the cars. I couldn’t think what it could possibly be other than some kind of drug rendezvous.

I was lucky to find this nice patch of ground to camp. I took this photo after I’d quickly packed everything up to leave at 5.30am. I had to get moving early so that no one would come along and tell me off. You can only just see the drug rendezvous carpark.

The next day I walked to Glasshouse, which wasn’t too far. A man stopped in a big 4WD and put his orange rooftop lights on. I thought he might be going to get up me about walking along the road. He didn’t. He gave me a donation and told me how great I was. He stopped when he saw me because his son also had a brain injury from a car accident. His son was at one point doing charity ride on a recumbent trike around Tasmania, but couldn’t stay focused on what he was doing due to his brain injury and as a result never ended up completing the ride. He was a really nice man and I was glad that he stopped to talk to me. “I hope your son will be ok,” I said as he left.

There wasn’t anywhere to pee in secret in the last half of the walk, so when I got to Glasshouse I was busting. I went straight up to the public toilets at the top of the hill. I wanted to cook my lunch in the park, but I just couldn’t face dragging everything out of the pack and repacking it again afterwards. A lady came past and started talking to me about donating, so I asked her where to get a good milkshake. She sent me to Glasshouse Country Kitchen. Man, oh man, it was THE best thickshake I’ve literally ever had in my life and it only cost $5.50. When the man behind the counter brought my thickshake over, he refunded my money and also gave me a donation. What a nice guy!

At Glasshouse I’d arranged to stay with Gayle and Bob. I’d met Gayle at the tourist information centre when I first mapped the hike. She very kindly offered for me to stay at her place when I was asking about campsites in the area. On the way to Gayle and Bob’s a man called out from his yard, “Hey bloke! You got enough water?” I didn’t look around because I’m not a bloke. I thought he was talking to someone else, but he wasn’t because he yelled it again and by then I knew I was the only person on the street, so I went over to him to say hello and also to let him know that I was in fact a woman. I wasn’t offended that he called me a man. People do it all the time. The last time was about two weeks before I left on the hike and it had happened plenty of times before that as well. Little did I know that it would happen not too far into the future also.

This was the first time I’d ever had the opportunity to ask someone why they thought I was a man. He was too embarassed to give me a proper answer even though I assured him I really didn’t care about him thinking I was a man. In the end I felt bad for him, so I said goodbye with him calling out apologies as I walked off.

I don’t know why people think I’m a man! Have they seen my legs for crying out loud!? What man has legs like mine? I’ve certainly never seen any. I don’t know, maybe it’s because I’m 6ft tall (closer to 6′ 2” in my hiking boots). I don’t have a horse face, a square jaw or a particularly huge frame, my boobs are a good size, so the only other thing I can really put it down to is that I’m pretty skinny compared to a lot of women my age, but at the end of the day, I really don’t know what it is.

View across the road from Gayle and Bob’s

On the road I asked a boy of about 10 or 11 if he knew where the street was that I was  looking for. He didn’t, but he asked me to come back to his house so that he could give me a drink. What a nice kid: “If you you come with me, you can have a drink at my house and we can ask my mum. She’ll know where it is.” I told him that he was thoughtful and it was nice of him to offer, but I’d just ring the people up instead of bothering his mum. He rode off on his scooter.

I slept really good at Gayle and Bob’s and got off to a good start the next day for my walk into Caboolture, where I’d arranged to stay at the showgrounds. It was a nice walk because most of it was along the side of the road under the trees. Later I found a tick on the top of my head. Yuck! At least it wasn’t a leech. They are far more DIS-GUS-TING!

Mt Tibrogargan. There’s an Aboriginal legend that tells the story of the all the Glasshouse Mountains. I always thought this one looked like a gorilla, but in the legend he’s actually the father of all the mountains in the area aside from Mt Beerwah. The lines are the electric lines for the train (I was on the other side of the rail fence, so couldn’t get an unobstructed view).

I knew I had to turn off the road to head through to Caboolture via Elimbah, but I somehow ended up in Beerwah without seeing the sign for the turn off. I got a bit worried that I’d gone the wrong way, so I asked a man in a shop and then the lady in the post office to make absolutely sure I was going in the right direction; I was.

At Elimbah I decided to get a Bundaberg Sars from the servo. It’s really the only softdrink I can handle and even then only very occassionally. I’d started telling myself stories about the sars before I got to the shop. When I got there, they didn’t have any in the fridge, only several boxes of it on the shelf waiting to be put into the fridge. I tried to talk myself into one of the other types of softdrink, but couldn’t do it, so I went and sat outside for a while; mainly because I was pissed off about not getting what I wanted. I guess you’d say that I had the shits! I started talking to some guys from SEQ Water and they really did have to deal with actual shit, so I forgot about the sars and started laughing when they told me what it’s like dealing with shit everyday. They gave me a donation and I started walking again.

Today I walked into the Moreton Bay Region:

Because of what had happened in Landsborough I was a bit worried about the showgrounds changing their mind about letting me stay (they don’t normally allow tent-based camping). It was lucky that I’d written down the name of the guy I spoke to who had initially given me permission because the lady in the office began telling me how they don’t allow tents. I showed her the piece of paper he’d given me and she said in a vague kind of way, “I think I remember something about this.” It was ok though because the guy who said I could stay in the first place showed up in a little golf cart and took me to my spot with my own power and a big light if I needed it.

As I was setting up my tent a scruffy guy came over and started talking about how there’s no tents allowed and that I should watch out because the security guard was driving around. I couldn’t really understand what he was talking about. I wasn’t sure if he was trying to help me or if he was trying to get rid of me or what, so I just kept setting everything up while telling him about my hike. I wasn’t sure that he got it, but he went away eventually. Not long after, he came back and when I saw him coming I started to worry that he was going to be a nuisance and I decided that I’d have to tell him to leave me alone. He wasn’t being a pain though, he was bringing me a donation! He waved to me the next day as he was leaving. I felt bad for thinking he was going to be a problem.

Campsite at Caboolture Showgrounds. Check out the tent. Notice anything? The dickhead who put it up (me) put the fly on upside down. The stupid thing was; it was the second time I’d done it and both times I couldn’t work out what was wrong. I looked at it and thought, this doesn’t seem right. Why is this bit of stuff sticking out like this? I thought the zippers went the other way. Duh! Stupid much?

I got zero sleep here. The train line is just across the road and the goods trains thundered past all night long. It really sounded like they were right next to my head. Still, I was too lazy to dig out the earplugs. It was kind of satisfying to know that I wasn’t the only one who would have been kept awake all night. There were heaps of caravans and camper-trailers in the section across from me and they wouldn’t have been able to escape the noise either.

 

Almost time to leave

Tomorrow is the day I head off on my 450km solo hike for brain injury. It’s hard to believe it’s come around so fast AND it’s also hard to believe that I managed to get everything done in time. Man, what a job it was to organise everything. I can’t even begin to describe how much effort went into planning stuff and getting everything ready. There were a few glitches; one of them the t-shirts I had planned to wear on the hike. They cost a mint and I was really looking forward to wearing them because they were so cool, but it was my mum who pointed out that I’d made a stupid spelling mistake in the wording. I was not impressed and they all went into the rag bag. Poo Bum Wee. But if that’s the worst thing that happens, then I really can’t complain can I?

Oh yeah, I won’t be posting regular updates because I refuse to own an internet phone, but even if I did, I’d need to preserve the battery for emergencies. That means that everyone has to be patient to find out how I’m progressing. I might pop up on the news or on the radio every now and then, but I don’t know which stations or channels.

I got my new tent today. It came courtesy of an in-kind donation from a cool dude who runs a business in Hervey Bay. I mentioned that I was doing the hike on a Facebook hiking group and wanted recommendations for a new tent and a business owner in WA responded telling me that he’d offer a discount for the tent I chose. I only “paid” $525, but this is the real pricetag that was attached to the tent:

$749.99!!!!

No way would I have EVER paid this much for a tent out of my own money. I still can’t get my head around the price of it. I set it up, which is what you always should do before you use a new tent for the first time. It’s pretty cool because I actually fit inside it. My old hiking tent was a nightmare because I couldn’t even sit up in it and my feet poked up into the top causing the sleeping bag to always be wet from condensation at the foot end, not to mention what happened when it rained.

This new tent is a two-person tent. I’ve seen lots of tents and I’ve never seen a tent that actually fits the amount of people it claims to hold, but this one would and I reckon there’d be room left at the sides. It’s huge, but it only weighs 1700grams. My old tent was around 2.2kg and it was nowhere near as big, even though it’s meant to be a two-person tent as well (as if). There’s even room leftover lengthways, which is a novelty for a giant woman.

Me and my new tent: Wilderness Equipment Space 2. I had to set it up on the footpath as my yard is a giant sand pit because I live in the land that rain forgot: Australia.

I cannot know what adventure will bring, but bring adventure I will.

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

 

 

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:

https://www.teamparf.org.au/users/jennifer-parry

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

 

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

 

 

 

The $40 000 Fundraising Project

Featured

On the 17th of September 2019 I set off on a 450km solo and unsupported hike from my home in Woodgate to the Brisbane CBD (itinerary). I did this to raise funds and awareness for Brain Injury and also because I wanted to have an adventure. During the hike I raised in excess of $5000. My target is $40 000, so I still have a ways to go and the best part of the year to get it done. All that money will go to The PA Research Foundation and STEPS, which are collaborators in providing rehabilitation for those struck down with a traumatic brain injury. Please contact me if you are interested in collaborating with me. I’d love to hear from you!

Having a brain injury myself, I am a member of my local STEPS support group who meet in Bundaberg every month. Brain injury is known as the invisible disability and I got to talk to a lot of people, including the Minister of Health (Hon. Dr Steven Miles) about what it means to live with such a disability. “Gees, you look fine.” “There’s no way I’d ever think that you had a disability.” “Yeah, but there’s nothing wrong with you though.” Were some of the responses I got from people I met along the way.

This was the second big hike I’ve done. In 2016 I walked almost 400km to raise money for brain cancer. Since I completed that first hike I’ve been training pretty hard, which made my hike to Brisbane much easier than the 2016 hike. My attitude has probably shifted a fair bit too because on that first hike I came to learn that I am an amazing person who can achieve unbelievable things, but that I’m not special. I’m just like everyone else; the only difference being that I’m someone who had an idea and I made the idea happen. All of us can do that; you have my permission to be awesome too!

me, damien and Minister

Damien Topp (CEO PA Research Foundation) Me and the Hon. Dr Steven Miles (Health Minister) in Brisbane on my arrival. (photo: Sue Wright STEPS).