Cooloola Great Walk… well, kind of…

I swear, the Cooloola region is out to get me! The last time I planned an adventure here, The relentless wind blew me sideways on a bike trip on Teewah beach, which caused me to push my bike for 33km before jagging a lift to Tewantin with some beautiful people. Before that, I’d booked the Great Walk twice before only to have it cancelled by QPWS due to fires in the area. The Cooloola Wilderness Trail got me a couple of years back when I almost froze solid on the banks of the Noosa river. When I first got my fat bike, I drove all the way to Rainbow to ride for a day in the forestry, only to have the seat break in the first five minutes. Oh yes, and of course there was the bed incident at Teewah village in 2007, which is a long story without a happy ending in which I got to see someone I’d always loved for who they truly were: a horrible, horrible arsehole.

It’s not all bad though. I did find a $50 note on the side of Rainbow Beach Road in 2019 on my way there on a charity hike for brain injury. Plus, the community at Rainbow is really cool. Rainbow Beach is where my dad taught me how to swim safely in the surf when I was a little kid. I also had my first go at catching sandworms with Dad on the surf beach. I have always loved seeing the brumbies roaming wild in the pine forests on the way into Rainbow. It’s a really nice place and when I was a kid I used to say that when I grew up I would either live at Rainbow or on Fraser Island.

The hike started out fine:

At the trailhead: Cooloola Great walk

The first day from Carlo sandblow to Kauri campsite wasn’t too bad because it was only 15.2km. The worst part was getting up onto the trail from the sandblow. I was mindful of my hiking boots because the right one has a massive hole in it, which I’d only noticed the day before. I didn’t want my boot to fill up with sand, but after a while I decided to just forget about it because worrying about it wasn’t going to reduce the sand intrusion. In the end, it didn’t matter because no extra sand made its way into my right boot anyway.

I was hopeful I’d see some lightning sand (fulgurite), but I was too intent on getting across the sandblow to have a proper look. This desire to do everything at speed would become a problem as time wore on.

On the sandblow looking out towards Double Island Point
On the trail side of the sandblow looking towards the Great Sandy Straights
Trail marker at the start of the trail

I got to Kauri much quicker than I expected. There was a lot of “track clag”, by which I mean big tree falls blocking the trail. Some of the trees were massive and I wondered if they were infected with cinnamon fungus.I could tell that one of the big trees had fallen in the last 24 hours because I could still smell the chlorophyll. At this point I started to pay more attention to the extremely windy conditions. Would a tree fall on me? As the the day wore on, branches crashed through the canopy and onto the trail in front of me and behind me, but somehow I didn’t get taken out.

There were a lot of cool fig trees..

Fig tree: it looks like an alien has splattered itself onto the host tree

I’m not sure what species of fig these are, but they have massive fruit:

Huge fig. According to Gardening Australia, all native figs are edible. These smelled pretty good.

At the campsite there were two other solo hikers already set up. I was not expecting this and I wasn’t particularly excited about it, but nature doesn’t belong to me, so I have to stop thinking that I’m the only person who likes doing stuff outdoors. It was really windy setting up the tent and it had been raining on and off all day, which was really annoying for setting the tent up, but I managed to get it done before there was a major downpour. Argh! It pissed down rain all night long and I was less than impressed when water started dripping on my head. I have a $750 Wilderness Equipment tent: Water is not meant to drip on my head!

I was also a little bit worried about the wind. I kept thinking about all the fallen trees I’d seen on the trail that day. In the end I had to say to myself, I doesn’t matter if a tree falls on you because you’ll be dead, so you won’t know anything about it. All night I swear I could hear music. It sounded like a distant concert.

Campsite at Kauri. I was grateful for the lockbox. It meant I didn’t have to put all my crap in the tent.

The next day was a 20.5km walk to Littoria campsite. This was really hard because I walked too fast and as a result got royally fucked up by my need for speed. I also got bitten by a spider or a little snake somewhere along the trail, which didn’t help. About half way I started to think that I wanted to go home.

By the time I got to the campsite I could hardly move because my hip flexors were killing me. After I set the tent up and had stopped moving I realised I was in a bit of trouble because I felt like absolute shit (maybe from a combination of the snake/spider bite and the reality that I’m not invincible?). At this point I decided that it would be pretty stupid to keep going because if I did get sick combined with the obvious reality that my hip flexors would only get worse as the kilometres wore on, I would be in a bit of trouble. Someone was coming to pick me up at the end of the hike, so it was no big deal to get them to come and pick me up the next day instead.

Littoria is pretty much right on Kings Bore Road, which I knew was a way out to Cooloola Way, although I wasn’t sure if it was open to vehicles. There was phone service here, so I phoned the Qld government to find out if the road was open to vehicles. What a complete waste of time that was. They had no idea what I was even asking and would not forward my call to QPWS so I could get some local information. In the end I just winged it and it ended up being ok.

I walked about 10km out along Kings Bore Road to the intersection with Cooloola Way. It was a really nice walk and even though everything was killing me, and I had a massive headache, it didn’t get to me too much. I got to see this awesome creek, which I would not have even known existed had I not left the hike…

Teewah Creek. This is a really nice spot. Luckily it wasn’t too deep. It would’ve been good for swim.

The entire great walk is around 100km. I ended up doing about 50km. I can always come back to where I got picked up to do the remainder of the hike even though a ranger I saw didn’t seem too impressed that I’d been walking on Kings Bore Road. “I’m pretty sure I’m not a vehicle,” I said to him because there were signs that vehicles weren’t allowed, but none to say that pedestrians couldn’t use the road. It’s a real shame that these old road aren’t accessible by cyclists (bikes are considered vehicles by QPWS in some locations) because they’d be great for bikepacking. It’s a low impact activity, so who knows why you can’t take bikes on roads. A utopia of rules.

A valuable thing I learnt via this experience is that I need to treat hiking as recreation and not as a race because it’s not a race: I have to slow the fuck down. Also, just because you’re extremely fit from training on a bike and on a HIIT machine, it doesn’t mean you can just head off on a 100km hike if you don’t even go on short walks. Durr! I also learnt that it’s ok to call it quits, that it’s smart to call it quits, that it’s not weak to call it quits, that it’s the responsible thing to call it quits, that calling it quits in a situation like this means you are not a danger to yourself or to others, which demonstrates good decision-making. Being a good decision-maker is an essential quality for living an adventurous life, in fact, for living any kind of meaningful life.

…of all strategies, knowing when to quit may be the best…

How much will I suck in 2020?

2019 wasn’t bad. It wasn’t all easy though. Some shit went sideways and I said goodbye to a few relationships and also some beliefs that I’d been hanging onto for too long. I also extricated myself from a toxic workplace. None of this was easy because it’s hard to see people for what they really are. I don’t want to believe that people are intentional arseholes, but the truth is that sometimes they just are, and contrary to what said arseholes probably think, that’s not actually my fault. It would have been easy to blame myself and say that I should have done this, I should have done that, I should have learned how to breath underwater, defy gravity, turn water into wine, tame dragons, control the weather, and I should have kept my mouth shut about the shady shit that was going on, but I didn’t because it’s not right to do bad shit to people and it’s not right to accept that from anyone, be it your boss, your brother, your neighbour, your best mate or a government department.  If I kept accepting that kind of treatment then I’m just as crappy a person as the ones who are treating me like shit because I’m teaching them that I deserve that kind of treatment. I’m also teaching them that they can treat other people the same way, and that’s not OK with me.

I did some pretty amazing stuff in 2019: I hiked 450 km on my own to Brisbane and got to meet some really cool people, and I raised over $6000 for brain injury while doing it. I read close to 100 books, exercised for 377 hours, ran more than 180 km, learnt some wicked skipping drills, went to some great gigs, grew out of my clothes because I built new muscle, got my first reading glasses, survived a bushfire, and made some freakin’ awesome plans for 2020.

In 2020 I’m going to see how much I can learn. Can a skill in one sphere emerge in another sphere, giving rise to an ability where none previously existed? Basically, will a lifestyle of breadth, rather than depth facilitate emergent abilities? I believe it will. It’s going to be tricky to measure this, but I’ll do my best. I’ll be recording everything I do and putting it on YouTube so everyone can see how much I suck when I first start out, and how that’s actually OK, because everyone sucks to begin with!

Watch me as I suck at these things:

  • playing video games*
  • knife throwing
  • tap dancing
  • learning a new language
  • skateboarding*
  • graffiti
  • juggling*
  • rubix cube*
  • macrame
  • physics
  • wood carving
  • singing*
  • kiteboarding
  • navigation*
  • chess
  • playing the banjo*

* These things I’ve tried at least once before, but was never any good at and/or it’s been over twenty years since I’ve done them.

Here’s what I’ve been doing in the last couple of days:

Snorkelling around the snags in the river. It’s a hard life.

Kayaking up the river and down a creek. This is where I suck. I made this ridiculously stupid and hilarious documentary about the Burrum River on a GoPro, but can’t get the damn thing to transfer to the computer so I can upload it to YouTube. Waaaahhhh!

See, it’s ok to suck, because that’s what pretty much everyone does the first time they try something, and this was the first time I’ve used the GoPro.

Learn by way of failure


No one ever started off being an expert




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:





Brain Injury Hike Caboolture to D’Aguilar National Park 47.5km

Fundraising and Awareness Hike: 450km total

16th of October to 21st of October 2019

I’d arranged with the STEPS coordinator Sue to pick me up from the showgrounds at Caboolture so I could go to the Chermside STEPS group. I always worry about recognising someone if they’re coming to meet me, but I kept telling myself that she would recognise me and that everything would be fine. See, I have prosopagnosia from my brain injury, which affects my ability to recognise people, even if I know them very well. Often pieces fall into place once I’ve had a chance to interact with a person, but not always. Sometimes the only approach I have is to say, “Have I met you before? I have facial blindness and sometimes I can’t recognise people.”

If you can, just for a moment, imagine what this is really like in the context of social situations. It makes even brief encounters stressful and I come away from a lot of interactions feeling stupid and self-conscious. Did they get what I meant about facial blindness or did they just think I was being an idiot? 

As I was waiting for Sue I watched some roadworks that were going on right in front of me. It was so interesting to watch up close. This machine came along and sliced off the edge of the road. It “sucked” it up and shot the chunks into the back of a moving truck. The whole thing had to be tightly controlled by a man on the ground indicating with hand movements if the truck should stop, move forward, speed up or slow down. After the road slicer had done his bit, a bob cat operator came in and cleaned up the scraps left behind. This is my calling, I thought as I watched it unfolding in front of me. I gave the dude on the road slicer thumbs up and he did the same in return. It was really hard not to ask the site supervisor if I could touch his long plaited beard as he explained to me what each piece of machinery did.

Sue brought me Doritos. She’d gone to the trouble of searching  through my website to find out what food I fantasised about while hiking! How cool is that.

The STEPS meeting was a bit difficult, but also really good. I met a lot of nice people, many of them in their twenties who had been struck down with brain injuries from various causes. One of them in particular had a big impact on me and for the rest of the hike I couldn’t stop thinking about her and her family. In fact, I will never forget her.

A lovely lady gave me a big donation and told me that she’d come along especially to see me. She looked like the actress Laura Linney and her daughter’s hairstyle made me think of Maggie Fitzgerald in Million Dollar Baby, one of my favourite movies.

The meeting was difficult because it’s hard to hear about how people came to be brain injured and the obstacles they’re still enduring as a result of that. Some people have made partial recoveries, but others won’t and it made me sad, angry and impatient for a world where people who aren’t brain injured could be imbued magically with understanding. If only people who aren’t brain injured could come to these meetings and see what it’s like for all of us living with this shit, I thought as I recalled what it was like to be all of a sudden treated as though I was dangerous, reckless and stupid by people who had previously respected me, trusted my judgement and valued my work before they found out I was brain injured.

That night I’d arranged to stay with my friend, Yvonne in Morayfied. I’d met Yvonne at the RBH in 2005. Her husband, Mick was in the same ward as me and had the same kind of brain tumour I did. Unfortunatley Mick passed away some years ago. Yvonne and I stayed in touch, but it had been a long time since I’d seen her. It was good to catch up with her and her granddaughter, Zoe, who had come to live with Yvonne, kindly gave up her bedroom so that I could have a “real” bed to sleep in.

The next day I went to another STEPS meeting with Sue. This time at Northlakes where I met more nice people. I felt that my experience of trying to get work and sustain employment once I attained it very strongly mirrored the experience of one of the ladies in the group and I spent a fair bit of time talking to her about what that was like. I’ve always felt like a bit of loser not being able to get a job after I struggled through a degree. I wasn’t happy that she’d had the same experience, but it was still good to learn that I wasn’t alone.

I got to thinking about my own brain injury and how it can’t possibly be called mild. Just because I don’t have a compromised gait or slurred speech doesn’t mean my brain injury isn’t severe. I mean, some of my brain got cut out for crying out loud, a big chunk in fact, and my entire brain was swollen for a long time (weeks and weeks). I even went temporarily blind from the intracranial pressure. Then there was the chemotherapy and radiation. All of it happened over an extended period, not just in an isolated event. When I hear other people talking about their brain injuries and the services they’ve been able to access it makes me  really pissed off that I never got to access any of those things and can’t access any of them because how would I? I look normal, I sound normal and I’ve got no way to prove that there’s anything wrong with me, besides the big scar on my head and my MRI pictures, but even then, it’s hard to make people understand because they just don’t get it, even professionals.

Sue dropped me back off at Caboolture to start walking again after the meeting. She took this photo at the trail head of the Caboolture to Wamuran Rail Trail.

The walk along the rail trail was pretty good, but it was so farking hot. I drank nearly all the water in both my bottles. It probably didn’t help that I was scarfing down salty Dorito chips at every opportunity I got.

At one spot in the middle of nowhere I saw this guy just sitting there on the side of the trail. He looked a bit weird and he was staring right at me, so I said hello to him. He started to get up and was trying to talk to me, but I said, “sorry, I’ve got to keep going.” I really didn’t, but he kind of freaked me out a bit.

I did worry about going the wrong way because the trail had no signs and I had to cross over a road and go through what looked like someone’s front yard. I could see a pink flagging tape fluttering around across the paddock, so I thought that could be where I was meant to go. It seemed like it, but I couldn’t be totally sure because just like the trail before it, there were no signs after it. I felt a bit better when I saw this garden at the back of a big sawmill. I thought it was pretty cool that people would do this at their workplace:

On the other side of the blue thing was a whole section of pumpkins. The space between the front of the garden beds and the top of the trail was full of seedlings. The garden beds are old truck tyres.

I’d gotten permission to stay on the patch of ground between the hall and the Wamuran Men’s Shed. People had been texting me telling me to watch out for a storm that was brewing, so I thought I’d wait a bit to set up my tent. I also didn’t want people to see what I was doing and there were people in the hall having a meeting. I thought I might have to camp on the hall verandah if the storm got really bad. There were a couple of thunder claps and some rain, but it came to nothing really.

I camped at the back of the hall in the end, but I waited until dark to put my tent up. The next morning as I was packing up I could see some feet marching in my direction. I knew they belonged to someone who was coming to see what I was doing because there was no other reason to come down to where I was camped. Here we go, I thought. It was lucky that I’d recorded the names of the men I’d spoken to from the men’s shed when I was asking about camping there because old mate was not impressed that I’d camped there overnight. He didn’t turn out to be all bad though because he went and told the lady in the coffee van out the front that I was there and she brought me a free coffee, which was really nice. I had to tip it out after she’d gone because it had milk in it and I couldn’t drink it. I didn’t tell her that though.

Wamuran campsite at back of the hall.

As I was leaving I went to the coffee van to say hi. Some ladies were getting coffee before going to Yoga and they were really interested in what I was doing. One of them gave me a donation and the coffee van owner (Tanya) gave me her phone number in case I needed help along the road. I was planning on walking along the unfinished rail trail to D’Aguilar, but the yoga ladies said it would be easy to get lost, so I just stuck to the highway.

This was the worst bridge I encountered on the entire hike. I ran across this one because the road was really busy with trucks coming from both directions. There was only a very narrow shoulder on one side of the bridge because the other side had barriers taking up the shoulder. I made it across just as two trucks came thundering along in opposite directions.

I thought it would take around 3 – 4 hours to walk the distance to D’Aguilar, but I did it in just over 2 hours. It sounds ridiculous, but it seemed too easy. I was worried the pub would forget that they’d said I could stay there for free, so I scoped out potential campsites as I got closer to town. When I arrived the manager did remember me and she let me go to my room even though it was too early for check-in. I had a shower and tried to go to sleep, but I was too lazy to get up and turn the air conditioning off, which meant I was too cold to sleep. I don’t know why I do this kind of thing. I’m sure other people do it too. It’s like needing to pee in the middle of the night; I always lay there pretending that the need to pee will just magically disappear, but of course that never happens and I waste three hours of sleeping time trying to ignore the need to go. In the end I get up and stomp to the toilet as though my body has manufactured a full bladder just to annoy me.

D’Aguilar Pub. I had a great time here.

My room at the pub. It was really awesome!

I met some locals at the pub. They were all hilarious, especially Goomba:

Me and Goomba (not sure how he earned that nickname.). He seemed to be the local larrikin. He kept asking everyone in the bar to give me donations and I got around $200 through him pestering everyone about it. I had a really awesome time, except for when Goomba went and kindly got me a coffee after I told him I didn’t drink alcohol. The coffee was the worst kind for me: a latte. Ugh! I couldn’t tip this one out, so I had to force my way through it without pulling faces about how disgusting it was. It was hard, but I made it to the end of the seemingly bottomless mug. The pub was really pumping and was full of people. I wish the pub at Woodgate could be more like that!

This was another local. I can’t recall exactly his name, but it went something like this: Sir Edward Smithsonian Belladonna Moore. His t-shirt really sums the whole thing up:

Everyone I ended up sitting with seemed to be pretty drunk and it made me so glad that I don’t drink.I made up a bullshit story at the pub about how I’m not allowed to drink for medical reasons due to my brain injury. This story stops people from asking why I don’t drink and trying to convince me to drink with them when they invariably don’t understand my reasons for not drinking whenever I elaborate.

I left at 8.30pm. I was worried about the next day and Mt Mee. It had been on my mind since I first started the hike.

In the morning as I was getting ready to go, I got called a man again. There were two hotel employees sitting at a table near my room and one of them said to the other, “there’s that guy doing the walk along the road.” I looked around and the other one said, “that’s a chic!” I asked the first one why he thought I was a man, but like the dude in Glasshouse he was really embarrassed. I told him I wasn’t offended, just interested in what made him think I was a man. He was kind of squirming with embarrassment, but he eventually said, “Well, you’ve got short hair and you just don’t expect a woman to be doing something like what you’re doing. Sorry, luv, sorry.”

Like I said earlier though, it can’t be because of the pack. I’ve been called a man when I’m not hiking. Just the other night, at a dinner party, a drunk moron told me that I looked like a lavatory door. “You know, you’ve got no womanly shape. Your hair is too short. You should flirt more.” What the actual fuck? He told me in the end that I looked like an alien, to which I quipped without skipping a beat, “I won’t bother telling you what you look like.” What I really wanted to say was, you look like a fuckhead. I didn’t say that though because I was at someone else’s house and he was their friend. Emphasis on the their in that sentence.

The walk to Mt Mee wasn’t too bad in the end. I was worried about the windiness of the road, not the steep climb:

This sign made me smile:

I found I really enjoyed walking up the mountain. The harder it should have been (but wasn’t), the more I felt invincible. I even started laughing a couple of times because I simply felt like the most amazing person who had ever existed. This feeling must have something to do with the VO2 max.

The view was pretty good walking up the mountain:

The rain chased me the whole way. I just made it to the lookout and under a tiny shelter shed before it started pouring. Eventually it stopped and I made it to where I’d planned to camp that night. I collected my food cache that I’d hidden weeks beforehand and went over to the cafe/restaurant to have a coffee. I sat there for ages and then it started storming, so I went and got another drink. “I thought I’d get another coffee if it’s going to storm,” I said smiling. It wasn’t busy (I was the only one in the place), so I didn’t think they’d mind if I hung around a bit. They knew what I was a charity walker because I’d told them ages ago that I’d be coming through when I was mapping the hike (plus,I had my pack with me while I was there [obviously] and it has a big sign on it). “We do close at 4pm,” said the lady behind the counter.

Just before 4pm I went up to pay for my coffee. I thought that they’d offer for me to stay seeing it was still storming. Maybe they’ll just let me sit on the little verandah. No, they didn’t and I had to leave. They did give me one coffee for free, which is something I guess. I really wanted to tell someone how great I was for walking up the mountain in under 3 hours, but I didn’t because no one asked how the hike was going and I suppose I got a bit disappointed about that. It’s hard to remember that just because I care about something, it doesn’t mean other people care about it too.

I decided I didn’t want to camp behind the church. After I had to leave the restaurant I felt that the restaurant people weren’t particularly friendly and they would have been able to see that I’d gone behind the church and because I hadn’t been able to ask for permission to camp there, I didn’t want to get in trouble for it, so I went looking for somewhere else. I ended up camping underneath the hall. I’d tried to contact the people in charge of it previously, but no one got back to me about it. I was worried about getting into trouble, so I tucked my tent out of view and waited until after dark to set it up:

It was impossible to sleep here because of the possum olympics. Several competing teams of possums ran riot all night long. There were crashing sounds in the gardens and I imagined that a rogue possum was throwing his counterparts from the balcony into the foliage. The peacock was the referee, who policed proceedings with a stupid honk that went on all night long. Peacocks aren’t nocturnal! Why was he up all night? I really could have strangled all of them. I also got really cold, which didn’t help matters. I guess you might have said that I had the shits!

This was one of the reasons:

I kind of felt like Mt Mee didn’t like me. I had to go over to the school to get water out of the bubblers, which wasn’t easy. I wasn’t expecting that. I’ve never seen taps padlocked before.

The next morning a lady came while I was packing up. I’d put my tent away really early so I couldn’t get into trouble for camping. I told her that I was just reconfiguring my pack and I asked her if she was going to get up me for camping there. When she said no, I told her what I was really doing. She started talking about how dangerous the world is. “When I go into a shopping centre carpark I always make sure there’s more than one or two other people there so I don’t get mugged. It’s happening all the time,” she said. I asked her where she saw it happening. Her answer of course was, on the news. “How many times have you seen on the news about how someone made a successful journey through a shopping centre carpark? The world is not a dangerous place. No one likes to hear this, but it’s actually true. We see violence on the news, hear it on the radio and it’s fed to us non stop online. People talk about it on social media and keep bringing it up over and over again. This causes us to believe that the world is something it’s not. Did you know that the most dangerous place for a woman is in her own home with a man she knows?” She didn’t really have a response for anything of these things, but I did get the feeling that she actually heard what I was saying, which was promising. It’s challenging for people to meet someone who says stuff that totally conflicts with their view of reality and is a living example of the conflict.

That night I was meant to be camping, but the cool guy I’m married to wanted to come and pick me up because he’d been called away for work in PNG. If I didn’t take the opportunity to see him then I wouldn’t have been able to see him until well into December. We arranged to meet at D’Aguilar National Park, which wasn’t far from where I’d camped, so I got walking. He was going to drop me back the next day.

Down the road I started talking to some nice people who were embarrassed about the stench of the fertiliser they were spreading in the garden. I told them I’d camped at the hall. The lady said, “that’s ok, I’m on the committee.” I wish I had known that, then I could have just come to see her when I was planning the hike. They had a beautiful view from their house.

A bit further down the road I met Myles and Holly who stopped to give me a donation. They had dogs with them: two staffies called Mash and Teabag. I wanted to pat them because I really missed my own dogs and hadn’t been able to stop thinking about Biggie’s fluffy tail that sticks almost straight up. He’s our red cattle dog. I got whinging to Myles about the Metallica concert being cancelled on the 29th of October. Holly was wearing a Pennywise jumper and it reminded me of the original reason behind my idea for walking to Brisbane: going to the Metallica concert. I really liked both Holly and Myles. I saw Myles again a few days later on the road outside Samford. It was really nice to see him again, but Holly was at work this time.

Biggie and the tail

It was a hard walk up to the national park. It was because I was so damn tired from the possum olympics. The view was really amazing though. There was a house that had a view that never ended. “You’d never get tired of looking at that,” I said to no one in particular. I saw this cool truck at one spot:

I took this photo as I got into the national park. I had to run to retrieve the camera because as soon as I set the timer two motorbikes started coming down the track and would have run right over it:

I stayed awake for the 3.5 hour trip home, but as soon as we arrived I laid down and went straight to sleep for an hour. That night I went to sleep immediately and didn’t wake up at all until the morning. It would’ve been one of the best sleeps I’ve ever had.















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.