Nerves

In one week I will be walking the first day of the final section of The Happy Walk and I am more nervous than ever before.



This leg and the distances planned for each day are almost half that of the last 3 years. Returning to backpacking is a shift back to my comfort zone. Leaving the highway for the bush and beach will be beautiful and refreshing. So what am I nervous about?



I can’t put my finger on it. It might be my current poor fitness level but I know from experience this doesn’t last long once I get going. It might be a fear of pain and exhaustion resulting from living in chronic pain for nearly a year but I know it is an irrational fear because I naturally have a very high pain tolerance and an ultra athlete’s ability to block it. 



Could it be something as silly as switching airlines loyalty to Qantas because they offer vegan meal options after flying Virgin domestic for 18 years who won’t cater for vegans? 



It could be the imminent end of a project which started as a dream 7 years ago and has demanded everything I owned, everything I was to be sacrificed, sold, released, all my strength and commitment poured into the cause and giving back. This walk has been my life, my identity, my single goal since 2010. Maybe I’m afraid I will not be able to turn the lessons, experiences, insight and fervour into something useful and empowering. 



I want this to be the beginning of something which can empower Women, inspire Adventure, teach respect for Earth, protect Wilderness and explore humans as part of Nature. All I have given up, worked for and received, the joys, exhilaration, failures, begging, tears and achievements during The Happy Walk are the foundation for something much bigger. Yes, I’m nervous about this. What comes next will push me further than I have ever been before. 



It is exciting and I will spend many hours of each day dreaming but until I reach Canberra I’m still walking around Australia. After about almost 3 decades of solo multi day/week/month bushwalking I’m getting pretty experienced at it so now it is time to put aside concern for the future and have full confidence in my bushcraft, strong mind and capable body.



I can do this!

Authorised Fundraiser

Since 2012 I have been a fundraiser for Lifeline.

While walking 1,250kms around Tasmania I asked Lifeline if I could help them to say thanks for the help they gave me.

There are many excellent fundraising events happening throughout Australia but a few frauds mean we need proof of authority to fundraise.

Before beginning the walk around Australia I set up a fundraising account with GoFundraise. It is an online platform. All donations go directly to Lifeline, including every cash donation entrusted to me as I walk. I have a separate crowdfunding page to help with the walking costs.

Please support my walk for Lifeline and tap this link ๐Ÿ˜€

https://makingadifference.gofundraise.com.au/page/thehappywalk

Newsletter

I hope this newsletter finds you well.

In less than 2 weeks I will be enjoying the first days of the final 2,900km east coast leg of this epic 16,000+km walk around Australia for Lifeline.

I have minimised my online activity to only 4 places making it easier for both you and me. WordPress blog, Instagram, my crowdfund campaign and the Lifeline fundraising account.

The blog is now the main information hub and website for The Happy Walk. 

https://thehappywalkblog.wordpress.com/

Here is where I will share regular photos and updates about the walk, scenery, people, places and sponsors as well as occasional thoughts and ideas. If you have the old website thehappywalk(dot)com, which has been active since 2011, bookmarked it won’t work anymore because the domain host has locked it and I have no access. It is free to subscribe to my WordPress blog.

For all the photos and quick daily updates (phone range permitting) please follow The Happy Walk on the free Instagram app.

https://www.instagram.com/thehappywalk/

The crowdfund campaign for The Happy Walk helps cover the costs of basic needs that are not donated. If you can contribute please visit my GoFundMe page. If you can’t donate please share the link so others can. This is the only active crowdfunder for The Happy Walk so please ignore google search if it gives you another.

https://www.gofundme.com/thehappywalk

The last website is the GoFundraise Lifeline fundraising page. I have been fundraising for Lifeline for more than 4 years. I’m not the world’s greatest networker so it is also one of the slowest fundraisers in the history of fundraising. The target has been changed twice from an unrealistic $1M then an ambitious $100,000 and finally a more realistic $20,000. This target has been reached through online and cash donations and supporters of The Happy Walk, Lifeline and suicide prevention can continue donating until the end of the walk. Each donation goes directly to Lifeline and they are using my fundraiser to help their 131114 24/7 mental health crisis hotline. You can donate anonymously if you prefer and it is tax deductible in Australia.

https://makingadifference.gofundraise.com.au/page/thehappywalk

Please share these links with anyone who may be interested in the walk or cause or might like to help.

Thank you to everyone who has already helped The Happy Walk. If you can help during this leg of the walk with safe accommodation, food, water and sports therapy don’t hesitate to contact me.

There is a lot of happy news to share!

The Australian Geographic Society have selected The Happy Walk as one of their adventure project sponsorship recipients. This is a big deal for me. It feels like finally being recognised as part of Australia’s adventure community. I’ll definitely be milking it for as long as it lasts. The walk will be mentioned in their magazine on the Society page and after I finish I’ll write them a detailed report which could potentially become a story for the Outdoor or Australian Geographic publications. The sponsorship will help me subscribe to the magazine so I don’t miss my story or those of other sponsored members.

http://www.australiangeographic.com.au/

http://www.australiangeographic.com.au/outdoor

In the next 5-6 months I will walk a meandering path down the east coast along beaches, bushwalks, fire trails, 4WD tracks and back roads avoiding the highways altogether. There are maps and a rough itinerary on the blog.

https://thehappywalkblog.wordpress.com/2017/06/01/gladstone-to-canberra-pt2-itinerary/

https://thehappywalkblog.wordpress.com/2017/06/01/gladstone-to-canberra-pt1-maps/

To walk many of the offroad terrains between the ocean and mountains I am leaving Dory, my bright blue/yellow barrow at THW Basecamp II and carrying an awesome ultralight Luxmore 45L backpack made from D40 Dyneema cuban fibre sponsored by Wilderness Threadworks. https://www.wildernessthreadworks.com/

On the 21st of June I leave THW Basecamp I for Sydney where I will attend the Happiness & Its Causes conference with my brother and his wife. 

Happiness & Its Causes gifted me 2 complimentary tickets so I decided to delay the final leg and fly to Gladstone from Sydney on the 24th. I attended their 2012 conference and it was a buzz, I walked away with some new life skills and loads of enriching information and stories. In 2012 it was also 2 days before an important walk, my solo 150km Sydney Coast Walk, the first training walk for The Happy Walk. This year I will be starting the last leg on another happiness high. http://www.happinessanditscauses.com.au/

I have a boot sponsor!!! Barefoot Inc Australia have donated 2 pairs of Inov8 Roclite 325 GTX ultralight boots. They are incredibly comfortable, waterproof, good arch support and vegan. http://barefootinc.com.au/

Dirty Hippie Cosmetics is another amazing new sponsor organising regular supplies of organic, handmade, cruelty free soap and shampoo bars, sunscreen with insect repellent, deodorant paste, cooling foot and warm muscle balms. Everything made here is sustainably geared and produced with green energy, even the packaging is recyclable, refillable and compostable. https://www.etsy.com/au/shop/dirtyhippiecosmetics

Leaving the highways and roads and walking through national parks and conservation areas beyond phone range means I need to start carrying maps to safely navigate the trails and tracks. I’m an old-school map and compass hiker. Although I have tried GPS navigation I much prefer unfolding a topographic map and seeing 20-50kms of my path with detailed terrain laid out in front of me rather than a palm sized screen. I trust my map skills but I don’t trust electronic gadgets in the bush, a map and compass don’t need batteries or recharging and don’t break if dropped.

I was recommended a store called Coast Maps and Charts who have assisted other long distance expeditions in Australia and overseas. It is a small business with a penchant for thoroughness, detail and service. Coast Maps have also offered me a discount because I’m buying all my maps for QLD, NSW, ACT through them. http://www.coastmaps.com.au/

I have good health news! I am well! 

Since November, after being forced to rest due to physical injury and mental illness I have experience the healing power of Nature and learnt most of my injuries, including depression and anxiety, were all directly linked to a twisted pelvis. The longer I tried pushing myself without chiropractic examination and treatment the more it twisted until I started passing out from pain. The exhaustion associated with all this almost destroyed me. If it wasn’t for a small core group of people, their presence, support and treatment I wouldn’t have had the strength to stay focused on this goal.

In February I started travelling to the mountains but was forced to stop when the back spasms started dropping me to the ground (literally). In early March I finally made it back “home” into the Kosciuszko National Park. With great care not to aggravate the back I hiked to several places offtrack, between 1,700 – 2,200m altitude, for solitude and recovery. It had been 7 years since I was last in these mountains which have been home physically and spiritually for many years. 

With no other place on Earth do I feel more familiar and a part of the wilderness and wildness. The psychological healing began as soon as I arrived and was swift and complete. My body released a lot of tension and the twisted pelvis, braced firmly by my backpack hip belt, gave me little grief while I hiked through wilderness exploring new and visiting old favourite places. I was lucky to be camped in the first Autumn snows.

After sensing the back was not going to fix itself before I intended on resuming this walk and I was not going to acclimatise to subzero camping quickly enough I returned to Mid-North Coast where I was diagnosed and treated by Brett at Camden Haven Chiropractic. Not sponsored but I am impressed enough by the results to mention him.

I want to make a confession. This paragraph has been re-written many times in the last week. I don’t feel comfortable sharing it but I have tried to be as honest and transparent as possible throughout this entire walk and personal journey of recovery, hope. health and happiness. It might attract criticism but I don’t care. It was hell being bed-bound in constant 24/7 physical, psychological, emotional agony, wanting to die while knowing it was irrational and feeling like an absolute hypocrite through it all. During this break I did not take care of myself physically and fell back on food addiction to cope, putting on 30kg. It is an unhealthy vice I have used since depression and PTSD began almost 38 years ago. No matter how strong I am or how much healing and “letting go” I do, this still happens. Unfortunately, my mental illnesses require daily management and lots of self-love and therapy. I’m not good with people or affection so discipline, solitude and Nature immersion are essential to my holistic health. This situation, the injuries and relapses, resulted from a lack of self-care and ignoring anyone who suggested I stop. I’ll never be psychologically ready to stop this walk, the next walk and any other challenge I set myself. This is both a strength and weakness. How i use my stubborness is the difference between courage and stupidity. This a lesson I am yet to learn.

I don’t think I have much more to say right now. However, there will be plenty to share on the blog and Instagram until the next newsletter. I look forward to sharing the next 5-6 months of adventure with you.

Hope Health Happiness

Terra

Earth

Environment Day! 
The choices we each make everyday effect the health of this planet and ALL her inhabitants. The balance of our environment, the parametres within which we can live are fragile. We can all act to create a sustainable future. 
The health of this planet relies on us remembering we are not separate from our environment.
โ€œClimate change is intrinsically linked to public health, food and water security, migration, peace, and security. It is a moral issue. It is an issue of social justice, human rights and fundamental ethics. We have a profound responsibility to the fragile web of life on this Earth, and to this generation and those that will follow.โ€ 

United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon

How Can You Help?

When you help The Happy Walk you also help me carry a message of hope, health and happiness while raising awareness about Lifeline and suicide prevention.

Listed below are ways you can help. If you can please contact me in the comments below, DM me on Instagram, email thehappywalker@gmail.com or call 0487264508 (phone is often out of range or off so please leave a message or text)

The basic needs are always top on the list;

Shelter – simply a clean, dry, quiet and safe place to rest, wash and recharge for 1 or 2 nights. A donated room in an hotel or motel, donated powered tent site or cabin in a tourist park, a spare room with a supporter, a patch of floor for my sleeping bag or patch of grass in the backyard for the tent.

Food – simple again, as a vegan I’m perfectly happy with a fresh colourful salad and fruit. Easy! I won’t eat meat, dairy or eggs for reasons I will explain in another post. 

Water – tap water is fine. Rain water, sweet bore or filtered creek water is always a treat. I hope not to need purifying too much more during this walk. But I am trying to avoid using store bought plastic bottled water. We all need to stop buying single use plastic bottles, more about this later too.

Last year my body suffered badly from lack of attention so this year I am seeking regular assistance with sports therapy. Massage, physio, acupuncture, basically I won’t say no if someone donates their healing therapy to help ease pain, manage stress, alignment and speed recovery during the rest days. I’m open minded and willing to try out anything that might be beneficial to my physical and psychological wellbeing. (How do I embed a subliminal message for a spa resort full pamper package ๐Ÿ˜† )

IGA, Woolies and Coles gift cards go a long way and allow me the flexibility to buy food as well as other necessities like batteries for the headlamp, tea tree oil, tissues, baby wipes and maybe a small treat. With a gift card I don’t need to go dumpster diving.

All donations to the GoFundMe crowdfund campaign help with the above basic expenses where on-ground support is missing. Any funds I don’t use before the end will be donated into the Lifeline fundraiser.

Many people i meet are surprised they haven’t heard about The Happy Walk. It is an epic undertaking for an important cause but with limited resources it has flown too low to be seen. If you ask your local radio, newspaper and TV to share the story we can change this. Share links to this blog and Instagram through social media so your friends, family and community can be part of the walk too. If you know what I’m doing and where I am you can contact me as I get closer to your town.

Moral support is as important as all the above so please don’t be shy. Your words of encouragement, sharing your empowering stories of strength and survival, your parallel adventures and journeys are wonderful and give me strength. I often screenshot messages and on the harder days, when I’m tired, hurting or sad reread them to help me smile and keep walking.

And please remember this is still a Lifeline fundraiser and donations can be made to help them save lives through my Making a Difference – GoFundraise account.

For what ever reason you support The Happy Walk, whether it be the cause, following the journey, you’re a friend or relative, supporting women’s achievement or have an interest in plant powered adventure and pursuits you can be involved.

If you can help please contact me in the comments below, DM me on Instagram, email thehappywalker@gmail.com or call 0487264508 (phone is often out of range or off so please leave a message or text).

Abundantly Supported Solo Unaccompanied

When I started planning this back in 2010 I imagined walking solo with a support vehicle and behind-the-scenes team but it didn’t turn out that way. 

When I started trying to explain walking around Australia alone without a support vehicle it immediately felt wrong saying “solo unsupported“. Even though all other charity walkers, runners and riders without vehicles use this term I knew it was not true. 


When I started the first leg, 1,250kms around Tasmania, I called this a solo self-assisted walk. During the first 2 continental crossings I also called it self-funded until I ran out of money and started crowd funding to cover walking expenses. Before the 3rd year of walking someone in Lifeline HQ called it solo unaccompanied and I have been using this term since. 

There isn’t a vehicle following or a team helping with logistics, my wellbeing, media, fundraising and admin but there has been support in many other ways. 

If I have the right grattitude to recognise and acknowledge support, it has been abundant. 

Support comes in a myriad of actions. Thoughts too because I understand when people send strength, good energy, hugs and prayers it is because they wish they could do more to help but can’t. 

I appreciate everyone’s support without comparison or measure. A piece of fruit from one person can hold the same value as $1000 from another, I have no way of knowing therefore I am equally grateful for each gift. 

In many ways, I have a giant support team and it changes everywhere I go. 

My support team is the community I walk through, families, businesses, individuals and groups who offer shelter, food, water, wellbeing and warm welcoming companionship. 

My support team is online through Instagram and here on the blog, supporters and followers who walk with me vicariously, write words of encouragement and share the experience. 

My support team is each and every person who has made a donation or regular gift to help my Lifeline fundraiser and the ongoing costs of the walk

My support team includes those who believe in me and my cause, the thousands of people with lived experience who understand the importance of my message and story of survival, the thousands of people inspired to live, dream, be strong, free and vulnerable. 

My support team are the adventurous wild women empowering and empowered by this walk. 

My support team is the rapidly growing community of compassionate plant strong, cruelty free, vegan friends, athletes and followers. 

The biggest support of all is knowing you are there, watching, willing me on, sharing my progress with friends, family and community and starting those important conversations about mental health and suicide prevention.

Lifeline 13 11 14

Gladstone to Canberra Pt2 Itinerary

When I say “itinerary” I use the word very loosely. One of the first big lessons I learnt during this ambitious endeavour was that no matter how carefully I plan it always changes. It is the nature of these things.


There are many reasons for changes and with a flexible plan there is far less stress when I need to stop or find an alternative path. If I am in a place of great beauty or amongst wonderful company it is good to be able to rest awhile without thinking of deadlines.


The path will meander between the coast and the Great Dividing Range following the beaches, bushwalking tracks, fire trails, 4WD tracks and quiet back roads.


If you can help along the way or know someone who can please contact me here or email thehappywalker@gmail.com.


So, with that in mind, here is the itinerary with approximate dates, give or take. 


Start 25th June Gladstone, Tannum Sands, Turkey Beach, Agnes Water, Seventeen Seventy


July – Deep water, Rules Beach, Baffle Creek, Rocky Point (if I can catch a boat rideacross), Avondale, Bundaberg, Childers, Burrum Heads, Hervey Bay, Fraser Island (incl official Great Walk plus Sandy Cape Lighthouse via Kingfisher Bay Resort, Fraser Island village, Dundubara, Happy Valley, Eurong, Dili), Rainbow Beach, 


August – Cooloola Great Walk (via Double Island Point), Noosa Heads walk, Mount Coolum, Nambour, Mapleton, Sunshine Coast Hinterland Great Walk, Montville, Maleny, Glass House Mountains, (TBC route through Brisbane), Tambourine Mountain, Cunungra, O’Reillys Rainforest Retreat, Gold Coast Hinterland Great Walk (via Lamington National Park, Binna Burra, Springbrook), Natural Arch


September – Tyalgum, Byrrill Creek, Terragon, Doon Doon, Huonbrook, Crystal Castle, Mullumbimby, Brunswick Heads, Byron Bay, Broken Head, Lennox Head, Tuckombil, Bagotville, Evans Head, Bundjalung National Park, Black Rocks, Woody Head, Iluka, Yamba, Yuraygir Coast Track, Angourie, Red Cliff, Brooms Head, Sandon, Minnie Water, Diggers Camp, Wooli, Red Rock, Arrawarra, Woolgoolga, Moonee Beach, Coffs Harbour, Sawtell, Bellingen, Valla Beach, Nambucca Heads, Gaagal Wanggaan National Park, Scotts Head, Stuarts Point, South West Rocks, Hat Head, Crescent Head


October – Delicate Nobby, Port Macquarie, Bonny Hills, Dunbogan, Diamond Head, Crowdy Head, Harrington, Coopernook, Lansdowne, Taree, Old Bar, Hallidays Point, Darawank, Forster, Booti Booti National Park, Seal Rocks, Myall Lakes National Park, Mungo Brush, Hawks Nest, Nelson Bay, Tomaree National Park, Worimi National Park, Newcastle, Great North Walk (via Watagans, Dharug, Brisbane Waters, Ku-ring-gai Chase, Berowra and Lane Cove National Parks)


November – Sydney, Bundeena, Royal National Park Coastal Track, Wollongong, Nan Tien Temple, Kiama, Gerroa, Shoalhaven, Nowra, Currarong, Point Perpendicular Lightstation, Huskisson, Booderee National Park, Cape St George Lighthouse, Sussex Inlet, Conjola National Park, Narrawallee, Mollymook Beach, Ulladulla, Dolphin Point, Lake Tabourie, Termeil, Meroo, Bawley Point, Kioloa, Murramarang National Park, Depot Beach, North and South Durras, Maloneys Beach, Batemans Bay, Guerilla Bay, Broulee, Moruya, Deua River Valley, Araluen, Majors Creek, Captains Flat, Tinderry Range, Googong Foreshore Walk, Canberra


I might walk into December but will not know until closer to Canberra.

Gladstone to Canberra Pt1 Maps

Here are the maps for the rest of The Happy Walk.  I tried tiling them on a notebook so it is easier to scroll but it doesn’t work on a mobile. Sorry about it.

 

The maps are just a guide to where I will walk this year. It is the final section of a 4 year and 16,000km solo unaccompanied walk around Australia. This leg is approximately 2,900kms and will follow all the scenic detours, a few side trips and as many through hikes in National Parks as I can easily walk too and through between Gladstone and Canberra.

 

This is still a charity walk for suicide prevention and fundraising for Lifeline. It looks different and will shift focus to adventure, Nature and beauty as I explore the east coast of Australia slowly on foot. This year will be relaxed, the itinerary flexible and more enjoyable from my perspective. It will still be hard work living out of a backpack, bush camping and walking almost everyday for 5-6 months but hopefully made easier with good support on the way.

 

In the next post Pt2 I will list the towns, localities and national parks I plan to walk through. If you are able to help out in any way with accommodation, meals (vegan), clean drinking water and sports therapy please contact me here or email thehappywalker@gmail.com. Please share on social media with communities and friends in case they can help too.

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Dirty Hippie

Sweat. Sunburn. Stink. Stings. No problem.


Dirty Hippie Cosmetics has just become the sweetest smelling sponsor of The Happy Walk! Danni, the amazing creator of this organic, handmade, cruelty free business has organised a regular resupply of sunscreen with repellent, deodorant paste, ocean soap bar, shampoo bar, cooling foot and muscle heat rubs.


Hygiene is a big deal when out on a long trek. It doesn’t matter if you’re walking for a week or a year it is important to make some basic personal hygiene practices daily habits.



Everything in my body care pack is a luxury item but on the east coast washing will be part of the normal routine again. Not just an event I only dreamt of most days while walking around Australia.
Showers and baths, hair conditioning treatments, shaving and waxing, smelling clean are not priorities when you carry only enough water for drinking


When I walked across the Nullarbor, up the west coast and across the top of Australia I would regularly go a week without washing between towns or roadhouses but I took every opportunity to wash myself and my clothes when I passed through or arrived somewhere with water. 


Sometimes I used water troughs in cattle yards, bailing out water with my bowl careful not to scoop up too much slime and tipping it over my head and body for a quick freshen up. 



Every night I sleep in the bush it is routine to use a few wet wipes, clean the tropical zones to avoid infections like UTIs and blocked sweat pores and rub the feet with antifungal essential oil (the only glass bottle I carry). Infection and fungus sound disgusting right? That is why basic hygiene is important for longterm hiking.


Without a shower, bath or a quick dip into fresh water I start to smell myself after a few days and by day 4 or 5 I need to stand downwind whenever someone stops for a chat (unless they smell equally bad). This is the reality of any long distance walker, runner or cyclist travelling across or around Australia without a support vehicle. Water is too precious to waste on washing!



The east coast is a different story. When you pass through towns and roadhouses with showers and laundromats almost everyday there is no excuse for stinking. Washing is still a luxury but also a deliciously sweet almost-daily indulgence. I will never take running water, flushing toilets, big fluffy towels or hair care for granted again.


As a minimalist the size of my shower kit is a slight compromise for a couple of extra items. It is functional and still light but a gram counting ultralight hiker would roll their eyes.

Toothbrush cut short (no toothpaste)

Small nail clippers

Tea tree or sage oil (10ml)

Mini afro comb

Soap cut in half

Shampoo bar cut in half

Pot of deodorant paste

Pot of sunscreen with insect repellent

Peppermint foot rub

Muscle heat rub

Small soft pack of tissues

Small pack of baby wipes
It sure will be good feeling and smelling clean almost everyday during these final 2,900kms.

Thank you Dirty Hippie Cosmetics!

Meet Jekyll

Wilderness Threadworks has sponsored The Happy Walk a D40 Dyneema (Cuban fibre) Luxmore 45L custom built pack, an awesome ultralight, ultradurable backpack which I will be living out of for 5-6 months this year.

The same week I decided to leave The highway and put Dory, my barrow, in storage to backpack the last leg I saw the beautiful Luxmore pack designed by Australian artisan and adventurer Dan Pitt. I checked the specs and knew immediately it was my pack. Dan did more than make one, he donated one!

Jekyll and I went for our first short training walk together today. 11kms with a 2/3 load of 6kg it felt great. 6kg without food and water isn’t quite ultralight but much lighter than I usually carry trekking.

Why Jekyll? Almost before my time there were a couple of cartoon magpies i loved called Hekyll and Jekyll. My pack reminds me of a magpie with its bright new white and black. But there is the other Jekyll, Dr Jekyll. Sometimes the pack won’t feel light and comfy, it will be heavy and cumbersome on the rare occasion I need to load up 4-5 days of water. Then it will feel more like carrying Hyde! But Jekyll will return as the load lightens between towns and tanks.
Thank you Wilderness Threadworks.
* Dan also makes bike packs!