Thursday, June 28, 2018

My world walk blog - Australia 79 - Traveling Families

Traveling families.

About thirty-kilometers past Daly Waters I came to a rest area and was greeted by a youngish couple who were living out of their converted school bus. Nothing unusual about that in Australia, except this couple had a large family, eleven children aged from one to sixteen years of age. 
As Daniel and Mel said to me "We almost got one child of every age here. We could even have a football team!"
 They sold their farm and hit the road living simply by fishing, picking up roadkill kangaroo. They are also about to study bush tucker (bush food) Living off this kind of food can be done, its the way aboriginal communities survived for centuries. However, its a bit like mushroom picking, you have to know what you are doing as some bush tucker can be toxic. I have been told that the human wrist is sensitive and that a decent clue if a food could be potent would be if there was a reddening or swelling or other reaction of the skin once tested there. I'm not sure if that's an old wives tale, its what I was told.

Daniel drives the bus and Mel drives their pickup truck with a trailer pulling some  chickens and firewood. They homeschool their children and I can only imagine the amount of time that they spend doing that, not to mention cooking and laundry! 
The Northern Territory seems to be pretty easy going in the homeschooling regard, for I have met several such families. Actually, I met many such families while running through South America on my world run. That was mainly in Argentina, and mostly traveling French families who took their motor homes on a ferry from Marseille on the east coast of France to Buenos Aires, Argentina. I would have thought it would have been cheaper and more convenient to ship from a western port in French. But I was told that there is a company that specializes in this in the Marseille region. The cost I was told varied from a couple of thousand euro for a camper van to five-thousand for a decent size motor home. Of course once the vehicle is delivered that's the travellers mode of transport, bed and kitchen. Some of them spent a couple of years traveling as far north as Alaska.

At a rest area that evening a nice couple called Jenny and Robert cooked me a lean-meat burger with delicious crisp vegetables and potatoes. That was so kind of them and it sure made a change from my normal pasta and a can of veg.
Obviously, its not possible for me to eat fresh food or fruit as I don't have much access to it as caravaners do. Whenever possible I buy canned food which is labelled as containing 'no added preservatives.' I guess my lifestyle by default also keeps me away from too much red and processed meat.

Then a few days later I met an Irish couple called Paul from Kilkenny and Teressa from Kerry. They have been living here for over twenty years and met in a bar in Sydney. Now they have four young Australian-born children all of them are armed with Irish passports. They did exactly what I have been telling every person that I meet who qualifies to apply for Irish citizenship to apply asap. Anyone who has a parent or a grandparent born in Ireland is entitled to apply for an Irish passport. My advice is to apply immediately because of the Brexit fiasco the rules could easily change as there is currently a bit of a rush on Irish passports. 
Paul had his own construction company with eighteen employees. Out of the blue someone offered to buy his company. Next day Paul and Teressa bought a caravan and along with their children they are going to travel long-term. They are on their way to Darwin as Teressas mother was due to arrive from Ireland. That will be a great adventure for grandma as she plans to travel in the caravan through the Northern Territory with the Hennessy gang!

Sorry for any typos!

Wednesday, June 13, 2018

My world walk blog Australia 78 - Four different roadside encounters in one day

Four different roadside encounters in one day.

I'm still playing blog catch-up. Time is short so I'm sorry for any typos as I want to get walking soon! Please check other posts below!

June 10th I walked 31 glorious kilometres and though I prefer quality to quantity, smiles before miles I still get excited when I add up my total: 22,740kms since I left Dublin some 640 road days ago.
I'm just a month away from touching the Ocean at Nights Cliff which is near my friend Terry Clearys home in Darwin. July 10th I will finish off this amazing continent and at the same time I will honour Brian, my late brother who died while I was on the road. It would have been his sixtieth birthday. He died from an unexpected heart attack when I was in China. 

This day on the road four lots of people stopped and as you will see they were all as different as the preverbial chalk and cheese.

I was in great spirits when a young couple and their two young sons stopped. They are on a six-month road trip and are homeschooling their boys aged five and nine. The nine-year-old mentioned that his lives ambition is to beat Husein Bolt in a race. He is the great Jamacian sprinter! Wonderful dream, and why not for most of us are limited by minds and are capable of more than we believe we can achieve. I gave my usual motivation talk and just go for your dream speel. 
A couple of hours later I was walking along the road and my great friend Adrian Dobson-Shaw and his mother pulled up. I don't think Adrian was following my walk but he knew I was still in the country. When he stopped I got such a surprise that I could have been knocked down with a feather! He lives in Canberra but was visiting his mother in Tenant Creek. 
I met him at the North Pole Marathon back in 2015. He is an indigenous  runner who showed such great promise that the race director, my friend Richard Donovan sponsored his entry along with his coach Rob de Castella (or the Deek as Rob has been known as since he broke the world marathon record in Boston back in 1983) Indeed, Richard, who has done so much for Irish athletics and is the most generous person that I have ever met also was the major sponsor of my world run between 2010-2014. As a reward for that, he generously presented me with an entry to the 2015 North Pole Marathon. At the end if my world run and only minutes earlier I had announced to the awaiting press that I had retired from running! So, I had one last race to run and I only just made it to the start line for I burried my mother on the very last day before we flew out that Easter Sunday. Yes, I guess mam was smiling down on me that day and I ran it, all be it slowly with my poor state of fitness in her honour. 
These days Adrian is still running and is also a coach and is inspiring young indigenous youths away from other temptations with his running and the positive change program that he helps to run.

After Adrian left I walked another kilometre and sat down for my lunch under a shady tree. Just then a man called Jacky, an around-the-world motorcyclist stopped by for an extended chat! He is on a career break from his job as a captain for Thai Airlines where he flies B777 jets. Riding a Harley Davidson 1700cc bike he pleaded with his wife for a time out to live his dream. Her reply was that she wanted a child first. "So I gave her our daughter and a couple of weeks later got into the saddle of my bike and headed down through Indonesia before shipping his bike to Darwin. After Australia he will fly to Ethiopia and ride to South Africa. Then it's the Americas, south first and from Canada to Europe to Asia and back home. 

The fourth person I met that day was unlike any of the above. She introduced herself as a Kiwi and from the moment she did a U-turn on the road to the time I departed she gave me a volley of rudeness. Starting with asking me if I was insane and was my sanity related to any abuse in my childhood. Then laughing that I enjoyed the outdoors.. 
" I heard all that before" she said and I wondered about that reply.
She continued by sneering at my cancer awareness walk even suggested that I shouldn't be walking in a first-world country but in Africa! After listing off about twenty poor countries her dehumanising and cynical talk continued, almost as if I was a two-year-old. This woman to me was a classic case of a mental abuser who couldn't even see that I'm walking with a big heart and laughed when I told her of the people who had discovered tumours after listening to my message.
"Ah cancer, cancer, cancer its a big racket." Then she continued with.
"Don't you know that many of these road train drivers are high on drugs to keep them awake?" 
Well that may be true for some of them but they are still safer than the drivers in the poor countries you prefer was my reply. Before I called her the rudest person I have ever encountered in all of my travels she went on to say that she is a realist and believes that people shouldn't travel because they will get murdered. My reply was that in that case there was no point in travellers leaving their homes. 
She had a lot more to say but I didn't want to hear. I have to admit that I found this encounter upsetting but then I remembered the previous three earlier that day. 
The next day I was to meet two more lots of inspiring walkers and runners. Please stand by for that post.

My world walk blog - Australia 77 - Thanks to the Renner Springs Desert Inn

Many thanks to Allan at the Renner Springs Desert Inn!

From Banka Banka campsite it was a two-day, sixty km hop along the highway to Renner Springs Desert Inn roadhouse.
On the road I met Michel, a French cyclist who I met a few weeks ago. He is cycling in the area for a couple of months before returning home. When I met him first time before Mount Isa he was struggling with punctures and for some reason doesn't want to take my advice and stick some of that fantastic compound called Slime into his inner tubes. It's glorious, Hallelliuah 😂 As too are fly nets and I had also given him my spare and probably will be remembered for saving his life from being devoured by the pesky bushflies, lol! 
A Dutch couple who have been living here almost all of their lives had stopped to offer me a Coke when Michel (dont call me Platini!) rode up. I used the opportunity to ask the Dutch people to drop some water for me further up the road and that worked great!
Earlier Tom Maxwell, the bush musician that I mentioned in my previous post stopped and supplied me with more Cokes! He was on his way to Daly Waters, I'm expecting to have a rip-roaring time there 😂
  As I walk closer and closer towards Darwin the temperature is heating up to around thirty C. The last couple of weeks it had cooled a bit but now I'm also getting closer to the equator, I'm at around latitude 17, and its winter here! There has also been an increase in traffic volume and thankfully the roadhouses are sometimes a bit closer, although a phone signal is not guaranteed. On my eight-day trek to Elliot I didn't have any. 
No phone signal, but lots of memories and so many people to thank including Allan the owner of the Renner Springs Desert Inn for a complimentary room in his tranquille motel which includes a tempting 17 metre swimming pool 
I had great chats with two Irishwomen who work there. Leah, from Belfast was on duty as a bartender that night while Kate from Limerick was off duty. They have both been living in Australia for six years and made friends with a Chilean woman called Javi who also works there.

My world walk blog Australia 76- Tom Maxwell

Tom Maxwell

Wandering down the road from the Three-Ways roadhouse it took me another eight days to reach Elliot. That was a nice stretch which included a rest day in an unexpected gem of a campsite called Banka Banka. It was eighty kms, so with a late start from Three Ways I walked that segment in three easy days.
The second night I stopped at Attack Creek rest area and after I finished cooking my dinner a lovely couple called Michael and Betty invited me over for a nightcap. I mentioned that that day I had met a German man called Jennas who told me that he was a crocodile hunter. For once I was stuck for words... What do you say to a real-life European Crocodile Dundee! 
Then I took a lovely rest day in Banka Banka at the suggestion of Bob, the owner of the campsite. They had only charged me five dollars for the first night and the second was frew. I used that day to catch up on some of my writing commitments, which I'm a bit lazy about! 
On the second night a musician called Tom Maxwell who plays what he calls bush country music entertained us. He and his wife Lynn have been travelling the country for twenty years now and makes a living by stopping to do such shows. They live out of their caravan and just keep drifting on. I was delighted when he dedicated a Slim Dusty song called 'Walk a country mile' to me! 
About forty so-called grey nomad, retirees who tour the country gathered around a campfire to enjoy the show. Due to Northern Territory alcohol restrictions Bob is only permitted to serve people a limit of six drinks a day when they show him their identification. He carefully records that in the bush bar log book. Many of those around the campfire there had their own bottles of wine and grog which they brought from their RV's. It was a beautiful calm starry night and after the gig and along with other campers I cooked my dinner over the campfire. 
 I was delighted when Tom came over for a chat and mentioned that he will be starting  a nine-week residency in the iconic and historic bar called Daly Waters. I will be there soon and may even take a rest day as I keep hearing that the owner is Irish!

Monday, June 4, 2018

My world walk blog -Australia 75 - The Three Ways Roadhouse

The Three Ways Roadhouse.
The man called Rossi that I mentioned last week who is a gas companies Cultural Affairs Officer stopped to check on me last Monday. He said that over the weekend that he had driven my route as far as the Three Ways Roadhouse and he had kindly left water for me at intervals of between twenty and thirty kilometres along the roadside. This was a massive help as there was no other water source and Karma was not able to carry all of the water along with my food supply that I needed. Thanks so much Rossi, and as a result I was bloated on water!
He works alongside Aboroginal elders to say what can be done and what can't be done with the pipelines which criss-cross their land. The people he works with are referred to as 'bushies' as they live in remote and dry communities. Maturity and the difficulty in obtaining alcohol means so-called bushies are generally not burdened by addiction problems as in other areas. This is such a complex problem and indeed a sensitive subject in Australia. The whole city of Tennant Creek is a dry city. Recently I read in a newspaper article that there are many  people driving to Mount Isa to sell alcohol in large quantities to smuggle back to Tennant Creek to sell at a vast profit to people who are on a banned from drinking alcohol list. The authorities have hit back and anyone caught smuggling will be themselves put on the banned alcohol list.
I picked up my first phone signal in almost a week twelve kilometres from the Three-Ways Roadhouse.
It had been a quiet and uneventful week with so little to write about! Almost 190 km from the Barkly roadhouse, I walked along a road that changed so little. Just bush, bush and yet more bush. There were nights when I camped down bush tracks and one or two other nights at rest areas. 
One night I met three couples, all from Walsha, New South Wales. They have been travelling around together for a few months. I have fond memories of Walsha, that's the town where the mayor, a man called Clint allowed me to stay in an apartment adjoining his butchers shop for a couple of days. His staff fed me with so many steaks until I pleaded for mercy. Staked down so much until I finally escaped my beef shackles one morning with a hearty sausage breakfast and eventually hit the road.
Back here at the Northern Territories  roadside rest area we also talked about the lovely homely cafe in their town called Marthas Kitchen. I guess I know Australia better than most Australians, at least that's what I've often been told.
So, on I walked west on route 66, clicking along and wearing the same pair of walking sandals that I have been walking in since about 200 km west of Toowomba, 2,300 km ago. I love the sandals more than any other footwear that I have worn in my total footfall of over 72,600 km on both my world run and this world walk. Strangely when I mentioned this to the company they told me that they get too many people like me asking for their magnicifient walking sandals 😂
Eight kilometres before the Three Ways roadhouse a snake which was about a metre long slittered across the road just in front of me. Inside the roadhouse a man called Gary insisted that I take his spare snake kit. Well, I guess after him buying me three beers I couldn't refuse the kit! 
Just two hundred metres from the roadhouse and for the first time on my world walk my footsteps joined my steps on my world run. This happened when I turned the corner at a T-junction  just before the Three Ways when I left the Barkly highway and joined the Stuart highway towards  Darwin. My Australian world run route back then was  from Melbourne to Darwin (Mar 13 to May 26 2013.)
 Inside the roadhouse a cool husky dog called 'Oi'  greeted me as he sat in the beer cooler at the Three Ways. What a greeting and that greeting could only be toppled by Dale the manager who gave me a cabin for the night. What a lovely break from lying on my air mattress on so much hard gravel! He then followed that up with an offer of a rest day which I gleefully accepted.  Eric, from the Netherlands took delivery of my third (of five) food and supply packages. Thanks also to Kim-Maree Burton for sending this on from Mt Isa and of course to the driver who kindly obliged to take it from the Townview hotel where she works 😀
Outside the Three Ways I asked a man called Tony to drop a ten litre slab of water 130 kilometres down the road. That was the last water drop from my friend Rossi who I mentioned earlier. That will be just over  halfway to the next roadhouse in Elliot. I will be there next weekend.
I made friends with one of the workers at the roadhouse, a woman called Lucy from Leeds, UK. She said that she would send some of my water bottles with drivers along my route for the following week towards Elliot, some 230 kilometres away.

My world walk blog Australia 74 - Angels of the Barkly Highway.

Angels of the Barkly Highway.
Saturday afternoon after four days I picked up my first mobile phone signal since Avon Downs. Signal-wise I expect it will be like this for the next three or four weeks. Perhaps if I'm lucky I may get reception once or twice a week, one never knows in Australia. It's such a huge country with a relatively small population of about 26 million. I guess its difficult to service the outback the way one expects it to be. Many people have told me that most European backpackers that come here are surprised at the vastness of the country. Almost as if they expect a Perth to Sydney drive to be like Paris to Brussels, it's more like from Paris to Moscow, and a bit more. 
Last week I saw some interesting signage which told the story of this east-west highway. It was originally built when the second world war came to the south Pacific. In order to connect it up with the main north /south road the Australian military along with the aid of the Americans worked around the clock and built a pretty rudimentary road in about a year. Thousands of military used it daily. Years later it was eventually upgraded but remnants of the old road can still be seen in some places. 
Thanks to so many people for making my week of "hardship" such a heaven in this difficult and  potentially hellish remote area 😂
Once again Ross a road train driver  stopped to give me four bottles of water. He is the same driver that stopped to check on my welfare last week. There were so many others and I overdosed on their generous gifts of fruit too. This was particularly welcome as fruit for me is difficult to obtain in desolate areas. 
One day I met an English man called Lewis who was on holiday with his father. It seemed that Lewis was a famous cross channel swimmer and with that talent had no trouble getting a job as a lifeguard in New Zealand. 
It was also a week when several people who stopped happened to be making a big move to relocate to Darwin, including two hotties called Charlene and Jessica 😂 They were both in the Australian Navy and kindly stopped to offer me water and snacks. As did another man on the move. He was originally from India and was making a road trip out of it with his mother. 
Yes, I know that my account is in danger of reading like a thank you manual! Another day my cooker developed a leak. Sometimes I enjoy a campfire to cook over, but it's not always feasible and there are other days when at the end of a long day that I just enjoy the convenience of cooking a quick meal. I mentioned this to a man called Hata when I stopped at a roadside rest area. He went back to his caravan and gave me his cooker!
"No worries Tony! I can buy another one in Mount Isa tomorrow!" 
How about that! Also, woman called Debbie who was camping in the caravan beside him  helped me enormously and gave me some canned stew. What can I say?
Next day, I walked long and hard for it was a bit hilly. Many people have told me that this road is as flat as a pancake. Yes, they were drivers 😂
About twenty kilometres before the Barkly Homestead I was stopped by an interesting group of people. Rossi the driver is an engineer for a company that had recently installed a gas pipeline from Tennant Creek to Mount Isa. His three passengers were Aboriginal elders who were there to advise him about where and how any modifications to the pipeline could be made. One of these First Nation men has an interesting name, Pat Murphy. 
As I was so close to the roadhouse and people continued to offer me yet more water I asked them to drop it off further down the road at my designated kilometre posts. That would make next week a lot easier to manage as I have to push more food from a package that I picked up from the road house. This is the second batch of five that I sent on from Mount Isa. Thanks so much to Kim-Maree for her help and to Amanda the driver for it's delivery and to Jill for accepting it.
My next sniff of any services will be at the Three-Ways Roadhouse. It's about 190 kilometres away. Perhaps I will arrive there on Friday or Saturday as I plan for an easy week. This is where this highway that I'm on joins the Sturt Highway. I turn right for Darwin there. On my world run I ran this segment, so it should be a case if deja-vu. That was back in May 2013.
Just to remind anyone who worries about my safety that they can still overdose on Mangans progress by pressing the Spot tracker link on my website. I typically press the track button every ten kilometres and at the end of each day please see
22,411 kilometres walked for 634 road days.

My world walk blog - Australia 73 Arriving at the Barkly Homestead Roadhouse

Arriving at the Barkly Homestead Roadhouse
It's Saturday afternoon and I have just picked up my first mobile phone signal since Avon Downs on Tuesday morning. I made a big push and made up a day to arrive here today, reason below.
Currently, I'm just seven kilometres from the Barkly Homestead roadhouse. Signal-wise it will be like this for the next three or four weeks.
Anyone who worries about my safety can follow my progress by pressing the Spot tracker link on my website. I typically press the track button every ten kilometres and at the end of each day please see

Thanks to so many people for making my week of "hardship" such a heaven in this difficult and  potentially hellish remote area 😂
I'm hopeful the hotel will sponsor me a room as today is a special day! Can my team of over 40 years... Liverpool beat Real Madrid to win the European Cup/ Champions League and become the Eurolean champions for the sixth time 😂 I hope to see it on tv at 4am!
Belated congrats to my rugby team, Leinster who recently also became European champions for the fourth time 😂
So, many people to thank.  Details to follow.