Tuesday, November 7, 2017

My world walk blog Australia 38

So much happening and so little time to report! I having such a great time in New South Wales! I have been in the state for almost three months now! Three of those nights were in Walcha and as I mentioned before I spent two nights in an apartment beside Clints Prime Butcher shop where I was a guest. Thanks to John and Thomas for spoiling me with so many steaks that I was relieved to eventually dine on chicken wings for breakfast before I departed. In Amidale I camped in the town park. It was dark and as I was setting myself up to cook my dinner under a sheltered picnic area I took my eye off Karma, my cart. A few seconds later I turned around and she was gone! How could I lose her so quickly and right from right under my nose, I wondered? I saw a pickup truck with its beaming lights. Surely, I couldn't have been robbed so easily. I ran towards the vehicle and discovered that the driver had spotted my cart roll down a slight hill and out of the area where I had been cooking. Luckily, it didn't hit any vehicles and crashed into a ditch. Bizzarly, the driver was Clints the butchers ex - wife. No, as i am hoofing around the world on foot, I never say it's a small world, it certainly is a remarkable world.
 Sunday,  I stopped at a bus shelter as a heavy rain shower looked imminent. Half an hour later it poured for ten minutes. I thanked my smart decision to wait it out. Then just as I thought about sleeping there the night Wayne who was originally from England stopped by and after checking with his wife Cathy I was invited to their lovely country home. 
He is an art teacher and she a music teacher and we had a long conversation about the importance of the arts and why many governments usually give it the first chop in their financial budgets. 
On the road it was a hot 27 degree C day and I was glad of the coke a woman gave me. Earlier another woman stopped and gave me a packet of Lifesavers candy. They might just save your life she said! 
After a long climb through the Black Mountains  to an altitude of about 1,300 metres I arrived at a BP roadhouse. On the way in I got talking to a man who insisted on paying for my dinner. I stayed there for over two hours so as to walk the remaining remaining 12 kilometers to Guyra in the coolness of the early evening. While I waited the nice Pakistani owner called Zahoor kindly gave me three cappuccinos and another chicken dinner to go! 
Arriving in Guyra I walked past a picturesque lake called The Mother of Duck Lagoon  and continued through the historic town. 
At the Royal hotel I took a notion to go inside for a beverage and to discretely eat my dinner in a corner while charging up my phone as I had many emails to send. Soon, I was the centre of attention and Kevin the manager arranged a complimentary room for me while a man called Dave treated me to a couple of drinks . Australians are such generous people, everywhere I go people spoiling me. Its now my favorite country on this world walk. Thanks everyone

Halloween,  was a Spook-tacular day and no need for me to dress up, I suppose I always look scary! Nice and warm but with a pleasant breeze and the flies have started to become a pest. For some reason that day I walked along a parallel secondary road which cost only an extra two kilometres. It led to a village called Ben Lomond and my decision proved to be a good one for there were only a few cars during the two hours that I walked along it. 
Once in the pretty village a gardener suggested that I pitch my tent under a shelter at a disused tennis court beside a graveyard. Ah! Yes, Halloween beside a graveyard 😅 However, the real scare there was a man, a white supremacist, a holocaust denier who was camping in a nearby field. Like many other so-called grey nomads I met he has been travelling around the country for over twenty years and living out of his motor home. He was retired and I was informed that his government pension of 800 dollars a fortnight was more money than he could spend. Before I left the following morning he mentioned that his unsavoury views would have him imprisoned in some European countries.
Next day, I only walked 15 kilometres and stopped at the Red Lion bar for lunch. The owner, a woman called Anne told me that it was for sale for 530,000 dollars.  A lot of money I know but when you consider that the sale included a house which would cost about half the total sale price, a small RV park, and a 20 seater shuttle bus and a three room mini hotel which usually has its 90 dollar a night rooms filled.
I was planning to pitch my tent on a patch of grass  when a man called Alan invited me to stay the night  with him and his wife Nancy at their  home across the road. At their dinner table I heard how three local community activists had reason to wonder when all three of them had a dog poisoned. Only one of them survived. 
A bisiness-like 24 kilometres took me to the outskirts of Glen Innes where I did an interview for a local newspaper. It seemed that word of my cancer awareness world walk had spread and I had an invite to meet some people at a food bank which was staffed by volunteers from a local church.
 Perfectly good food which had damaged packaging or short dated was being distributed to anyone in need.  
The supervisor, a kind-hearted woman called Jenny who even gave me an invitation to pitch my tent in her garden at the far end of town. 
Upon arriving at the family home I was soon upgraded to the sofa and then to a bedroom. Such was the hospitality that I ended up spending three fun-filled rest days there for there was a lot to do. First, we went to the so-called Standing Stones which were a replica and built as a tribute to the towns Celtic heritage. Each year the town hosts a popular Celtic festival. I preferred to call the stones the Holy Stones as in the episode of the hit comedy: Fr. Ted,  about the life of three Irish priests. Its also a hit show here in Australia. That night we watched the Holy Stones episode on YouTube, along with four other episodes for I can never get enough of  this hillarity 😅 
Eventually, it was time for me to walk on and I hadn't gotten far when a man called Malcolm who had read about me stopped to offer me a bed for the night in his home. He lived near Dundee with his wife Dayle, 22 kilometres away. Quick as a flash I asked him to transport Karma, and so we loaded my trusty cart onto his pickup, so as I could walk without the drudgery of pushing it. At his farmhouse we had an interesting chat about farmlife on his 4,000 acre, 4,000 sheep/lamb and 200 cow farm.
Their son Ian is conveniently married to a vet. I remembered the story of how a previous host, also  a farmer had regular 200 dollar vet fees for animal visitations. I got a laugh when I asked how their son and daughter-in-law met. "He used to sell her firewood, so much so that in the end he just said... Listen Kate, you don't need anymore firewood, you need a boyfriend!"
Next day, I was delighted when Malcolm kindly transported Karma the 21 kms to Deepwater as Jenny had managed to get her friends Ronnie and Brenda to bed me! 
I arrived just before the Melbourne cup horse race began. This is an Australian institution which is talked about and celebrated by a huge amount of Aussies. Upon arriving at my latest hosts house I asked Ronnie if he was watching it but alas he said that he didn't have the premium television channel which was showing it live. Suddenly an uncharacteristically afternoon tiredness came across me so I took a two hour nap. When I returned to the living room Ronnie was talking about the Irish trained winner and what a great race it was. 
Puzzled, I asked him how he saw it and we both laughed when he said he saw it on a non premium channel which was able to show the re run of the race five minutes after the finish. Ah! Had I of known he meant that he couldn't watch it live but a few minutes later, as if a few minutes made much difference in my world! Later we watched the rerun online.

current location: Deepwater, New South Wales

Tuesday Nov 7th I am in Deepwater, New South Wales. Thanks to my hosts Ronnie an Brenda. Also to Malcolm and Dayle who hosted me last night near Dundee. Today Malcolm was good enough to take my cart on ahead so as I could walk hands-free for a second day.
To date I have walked 18,234 kilometres in 489 road days.

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Thursday, November 2, 2017

 My world walk blog Australia 37  Gloucester to Walcha

It took me five days to walk the 152 glorious from Gloucester to Walcha. That first drizzle-splattered day out of the dairy and beef country town I made slow progress and did well to muster 21 kilometres over many leg-sapping hills. One man called Dave stopped and sponsored my next meal. Log trucks flashed past me. They carried soft wood bound for China. I'm told that soft wood is from trees which were planted in the last forty years and used mainly for the construction of furniture. These same finished products may one day return to Australia.
Just as I planned to finish out my day the heavens opened and I got wetter than a goldfish in a pond in the few minutes it took me to pitch my tent.
Too tired and lazy to cook my dinner from my tent flap I settled for a meal of beef noodles made from the hot water in my thermos and sardines. That night it rained heavily and in the morning I collected another litre of rain water from the saucepan I left outside my tent and from the indentation I made in the tarp which I had covered Karma, my cart. Every needless litre that I don't have to carry means a kilo less to push. I was told that there was little water on this stretch, except for a couple of creeks. That was not the case, as drivers tend to think of towns and cities. The pedestrian wanders from tap to tap to remote farmhouses which most motorists are blind to. 
On I walked and pushed my way five kilometres up a mostly 12% grade  mountain. I walked through pristine nature reserves on a lightly-travelled roads and sang back at the birds. Curious cows sometimes stared back at me in their fields. Often they followed me galloping along on their side of a fence and only stopped when they reached their boundary. 
Next day, my friend Tina King aka Tee Kay Gee drove the 350 kilometres from Sydney to surprise me. She has volunteered to do a PR job for me and wanted to discuss our strategy. It seemed that a lot of interest in my world walk was awakened after I left the New South Wales capital. So, I decided that before I walk New Zealand that I will fly from Brisbane to Sydney and spend some days there (Nov 22-Dec 2) and give a series of motivation and entertainment talks to a few cultural, sports and Irish clubs in addition to some schools. Busy times ahead!
After New Zealand I will return (Feb 14) to my route in Brisbane and continue walking towards Mount Isa and Darwin. 
Tina has gone to huge lengths tapping out dozens of long emails on my behalf. Thanks also to Amanda Carrolll for her great assistance to Tina in this regard. While she was  on the road that 31 kilometre day I put her to work to crew for me and she kindly took the bulk of my heavy gear onto Nowendoc. Then she returned with snacks. Alas, when she eventually drove off for Sydney she mistakenly took my cooker for a long ride. 😣 How will I manage without my coffee and cooked meals until I can get another one? 
Meanwhile, local farmer Dave Daly stopped to give me some refreshments and told me that dinner was on him that night and that I was to ask for Max at the Nowendoc General Store when I arrived. Quick as a flash I asked him to take Karma on ahead! When I arrived a welcome party was in full swing and as we would say in Ireland, the craic  (fun) was ninety! 
I was headed for Walcha two days away and one of the men in the store was called Clint, he just happened to be the mayor of Walcha and owned the towns only butchers. Soon I was told that I had a place to stay in an adjoining house and that his boys would cook me as many steaks as I could manage 😅 Invitations like this should never ever be left in the vague folder. Experience told me to always firm what may seem to be a casual but valuable invitation. Before long I had Clints phone number written down and told him to put a T-bone on slow cook!  My friend Jacqui Windred in Gloucester had mentioned that she was working on an invite from her in-laws who also live in Walcha. No worries, just as I did in Gloucester I would stay with each and take a rest day. To me travel is about 'people connections' and learning as much as possible from them. 
As I have been walking 30 kilometre days lately the 72 to Walcha was an awkward distance. To walk it in three would be a bit pointless, especially that I had no cooker to cook the food I carried in Karma. Instead, I planned for two and didn't get the early start out of Nowendoc. That day I wanted forty-plus kilometres and hopefully with an early start the following day That way I would arrive in Walcha at a sociable hour. In the end I made that happen by walking long into the evening and by 9:30pm I had amassed a marathon, 42 kilometres. Tired and hungry I dined on cold noodles and a can of corn. I camped behind a bush where lighting a fire wasn't an option. 
After an early awakening I  was packed up and walking by 9 am. Not bad as it was still early for me but it could have been better. It was another warm but glorious day and when I got to Cobrabald I had walked my 18,000th kilometre of this global oddessy. 
That put me in great spirits for the day. I walked past beautiful landscapes and even spotted a mob of about ten kangaroos hop through a herd of cows. They paused and stared at the cows. I laughed when I remembered how about fifty cows followed me a couple of days before. Not here, the cows just ignored them. On I walked and Tina texted me to say that she had managed to get me a replacement stove in Walcha. I was to pick it up from Brian in Richardson's hardware store. That night I was staying in Brian's and Shelley's house and they were Jacqui's (from Gloucester) in-laws! Don't you just love these small towns where everyone knows everyone?
A couple of hours before I arrived I met Andrew Robertson who is a motorbiker from Brisbane. His bike is a Harley Davidson Heritage Softail Classic with a displacement of 1449cc.
He is originally from Glasgow, Scotland but has long since lost his accent as he has spent most of his life outside the UK. He grew up in Malta and then worked for twenty years for the electrical company in Papua New Guinea, of all places. After Australia I had been thinking of walking it, but according to Andrew crime is through the roof there, so now I will give it a miss and the Philippines​ for the same reason. Likewise, I had been thinking about Amazonas in Brazil until I heard of a British woman who was murdered by a 17-year-old thug, just for her small possessions and her kayak. That 45 year-old woman had given up her stressful job as a headmistress in an English school in favour of living her dream. I asked my friend Benjamin Kniebe from Berlin to check it out as he does some research for me. He came up with an area riddled with crime and drug cartels that operated nearby. From now on I am only going to travel in civilised countries.
Anyway, back to nicer things. After picking up my cooking stove Brian and Shelley's we had a delicious curry followed by rhubarb, blackberries and ice cream. They spoke about how the lack of rain can have a detrimental effect on their  local economy. A lot of people are saying that there is less this year than other years. I remember when I was walking through a Sydney suburb and my friend Tom pointed to a patch of grass and said that this is the first time he has ever seen it bare.
As Brian says: "When there is a drought and farmers are struggling to meet their bank repayments they generally cut back on all the normal hardware stuff, after all, a 200 dollar  wheelbarrow can wait. So when an order like a 1,000 litre of Ultra Max weedkiller comes in its a big deal for us as that's a 6,000 dollar sale.
And as Shelley who owns a local ladies fashion shop called New Birds says: "And clothes are other items that are often put on hold. So something like a drought often has a knock on effect on the entire community."
She also has a huge passion for art. Especially the works of Vincent Van Gogh and also Monet. 
"Van Gogh was little understood and most people though he was mad. He eventually drank himself to oblivion, aged only 37." 
"Myself, I am inspired by nude art."

Next morning, I moved over to Clint's butchers and as promised his men cooked me as many stakes as I could muster. I spent a pleasant day chatting to Thomas and John. Thomas is an avid rugby league player and dreams of spending a couple of years playing rugby in the small English and Irish towns. Maybe one day I will live that dream he says while preparing me another barbie
Albert Einstein once wrote in his so-called 'theory of happiness' that achieving a long-sought after goal does not guarantee life-long happiness. I guess it can also leave a difficult to fill void.
 Having dreamt of running around the world for almost every waking hour for over twenty years - and another four years running it on the road; that was ticked off my bucket list. Well, in my own case despite the devastating loss of my mother and brother within the last three years I have come to terms with these three huge voids in my life as best as I can. 
Einstein also coined the phrase: Where there is a will there is a way. So, I reinvented myself as a world walker. Never, ever, ever let anyone tell you that you can't do anything. Sometimes we may have to modify our dreams. At this stage in my life its looking highly unlikely that I will ever achieve my other dream to walk on the moon. But walking the earth is not a bad Plan B 😅

Wednesday, October 25, 2017

18,000 kilometres walked on myworldwalk.com 
Across Europe, Asia and Australia 
Actually, that milestone is a few minutes up the road but this nice rest area at Cobrabald River arrived in time for a celebration under a shady tree 😅22 kms to Walcha. I will be there this afternoon
Thanks Tina for a great crewing job and s laugh! Don't worry about driving off with my stove I can get another one! 
Tonight after my long 42 kilometre day i dined on noodles and a can of corn. I an going to miss my coffee in the morning 😣
Yesterday 31 kms. Tomorrow I need just nine kilometres for km 18,000 😅
Thanks for the nice article Anne.
Ha ha no I didn't start my world walk from a Dublin pub! 😅I started from Run-Logic a running store owned by my mate Ash Senyk; who is an Aussie.
Tonight I am staying with Jacqui Windred's sister in-law Shelley and her husband Brian.


Gloucester and Stroud Road residents played host to Tony Mangan
Thank you Robert for your kind invitation to the Sydney St. Patrick’s Day Christmas Ball fundraiser on December 2nd
I can't wait 😅
Hi Tony,
Word has spread quickly in Sydney about your great efforts to raise Awareness for Cancer with your world walk.
Each year the Sydney St Patrick 's Day Committee holds a Christmas Ball which will take place this year on December 2nd at the Shangri La Hotel.
On behalf of our committee I’d like to invite you to be our guest at our Christmas Ball and we would love to assist with publicising your great work and efforts.
I look forward to hearing from you,
Robert Kineavy
President - Sydney St Patrick’s Day
A. QVB Post Shop, PO Box Q1168 NSW 1230
Web www.sydneystpatricksday.com.au