Sunshine Coast Hinterland Great Walk and Glasshouse Mountains 

It has been 2 weeks and 2 blog updates since i finished the Sunshine Coast Hinterland Great Walk and i am only now getting around to writing about it. I will also share the 2 days walking through the Glasshouse Mountains and the Ecolodge.

Once again, i took many photos and i hope these can convey how beautiful it is. As i always say, you need to experience it for yourself to really understand the beauty and wonder.

I don’t mean to not conform by walking the great walks in the wrong directions but it is just how it works when you walk down the east coast from north to south.

Interestingly, my path or direction of walking has turned out to be the easier in terms of gradients and distances between camps if you were to consider the options.

For something a little different i might write this more like trail notes. I will endeavour to try keeping the photos in order of the walk and events since.

The walk is between Mapleton and Montville through the Mapleton and Kondalilla National Parks, Gheerulla Valley and numerous waterfalls, creeks and outlooks.

I started my walk from Mapleton and walked out along Delicia Rd past where it crossed the track and continued up to Thilba Thalba Walkers Camp.

Initially the track ran parallel with the dirt road and MTB trails until near the top where it crossed over to rainforest. 
The subtropical vegetation soon gave way to dry eucalypt sclerophyll bushland and prolific grass trees. The track climbed to the top of the ridge offering some great views down the Gheerulla Valley and followed it all the way to camp.

Thankfully, it was only a short 15km day so i arrived at lunch, dried the tent, brewed a coffee and had a look around.
Later that afternoon i was joined by another “minimalist vagabond”. Jason has been a nomad most of his life too and had some good stories and ideas.

Day 2 was also short, only 18kms including side trips. It rained overnight and there was a cool shifting mist in the valley before sunrise. I was hoping for this purely for the fun of posting a Gheerulla in the Mist photo on Instagram!  

When Jason said i had chosen the right direction to walk the north loop he wasn’t wrong. The descent was the longest and steepest on the track and the later ascent was easy in comparison.

Walking along the Gheerulla River was eye opening. When the track allowed access to the dry river bed and still waterholes i could stand in the middle and look around at the evidence of the real storm force of this river. Not just the water carving rock over millions of years but natural dams built with giant trees, shunted boulders, debris 2-3 metres above caught in the branches all carried down on the full and furious river. There are times you would not try walking this track or even visiting the bases of the falls simply because the raging river would be deadly.

I found some caves up on the side of a hill which briefly sheltered me from the hot sun in their dry cool shade. As with all caves you need to be cautious and considerate of who might live inside. Caves are popular with snakes, wild dogs, micro bats, hermits and aesthetic meditating monks seeking enlightenment. Thankfully, none of the above were home when i visited but there were signs of previous occupants. It made me think about the Gubbi Gubbi traditional owners who would have used it for shelter on hunting trips or moving between camps, probably bushrangers (highwaymen) hiding from police and trackers and no doubt many bushwalkers over the last century or so. Even i quickly measured them up for size, comfort, proximity to water and bushtucker and wondered how many more were out there.

 Before making the last little ascent to camp i took the side track down to the base of Gheerulla Falls. After what i saw on the river i knew there would be only a dribble of water if any but i was interested in seeing how the water had carved out the waterhole. It was a different kind of beautiful and i needed to focus my attention on what was not immediate to the eye for a better appreciation.

The whole day not another human shared that section of track and i camped alone in Ubajee Walkers Camp. Arriving early afternoon i was again able to dry my trustly Mont Moondance 1 and scout around to area. Some nights are damp with dew and some nights it is cold enough the inside of the fly is covered in condensation so i regularly pack the tent away wet rather than wait until mid morning for it to dry. If it is really wet the fly is strapped to the outside of the pack and drips for a few kilometres.

Okay, the distances between walkers camps and the trail ends are short so i won’t keep saying that. Day 3 was like the others 🙂 so i detoured back into Mapleton for a coffee and recharged the phone in the cafe, as well as visiting the local farmers market to buy oranges. 

Only a few hundred metres from camp the sun shining through the yellow pea flowers distracted me and i stopped to try and capture the light and colour in a photo which ended up being about 100 photos because the breeze kept moving it each time the camera focused. This was one of those moments that make you think about life’s coincidences and chance meetings as something more meaningful. A runner whose smile is as beautiful as the sunlit flower stopped to ask about my (unsponsored) Z lite thermarest sleeping mat. Turns out Ven Nice is an ultramarathon runner and another Rich Roll podcast listener and has offered me a place to stay overnight after the Totally Wild film shoot! 

On the way to Mapleton i passed the roadside fruit stall where i bought 4 sweet juicy blood oranges on the first day but sadly there were none on the way back, thus the visit to the market. It was a good turn of events because i met Chris who said something the next day which moved me to tears of humility and happiness.

With charged phone i walked back up Delicia Rd to the track intersection heading south to Mapleton Falls crossing the Baxter River and walker’s suspension bridge before climbing up to Flaxton Walkers Camp. The track and forest changed many times around me and with the weekend crowds and noise i became disorientated a couple of times. When this happened i stood still, breathed and closed my eyes blocking out atleast one sensation. This helped calm me down enough to realise i was still going the right way.

It has been cold at night but getting warmer during the day, high 20s now, it feels like how summer should be. The heat has woken the snakes out of their torpor early and i have started seeing black ones and a brown one baking on basalt rocks. They move fast when they sense me coming, away from me though so i don’t have time to get the phone out for photos. I hope to see some big pythons during the Gold Coast Hinterland Great Walk through Lamington National Park in a couple of weeks.

I shared Flaxton Walkers Camp with Tai, an architecture student from Hong Kong studying ways we can live more harmoniously with Nature. It was Tai’s first solo camping trek and he rode in on a fixed gear bike to basecamp for a couple of days.

Earlier that day i walked past an avocado packing shed where i tried bartering 2 oranges for an avo. They didn’t need any oranges but gave me 2 perfectly ripe fruit which were marked on the skin but unblemished inside. I wondered what i could barter with 2 avocados but they are the perfect fresh food indulgence for trekkers so i gave that idea away quickly. Instead, i shared them with Tai. On that same stretch of farmland i passed Chris’s roadside stall for her orchards and gardens at The Falls Farm but couldn’t find any coin change for a few more pieces of fresh food but there were nasturtiums growing there for free so i ate some of them. Another property had tasty ripe Surinam cherries growing along the path and i helped myself to a second late lunch.

On the last day of the walk it follows roads through Flaxton for a few kilometres which gave me another chance to recharge the phone in a cafe. But before this i met Chris from the market and The Falls Farm again. We had a good chat beside the road and her understanding words of encouragement and appreciation touched me deeply. Chris, if you read this, thank you so much, i really needed support that morning, more than you know.

Day 4 was easy walking with a few steep but small ascents, mostly it was downhill to the river then up to Baroon Pocket Dam past the Narrows side track and lookout. The forests changed with every kilometre and the perfect swimming hole is halfway. Less people walk this section than the previous day so it was far more serene and friendly once past the loud crowds at Kondalilla Falls. 

My timing was just right. Sunshine all day, every day until i reach the shelter of Baroon Lake picnic area and a thunderous storm darkened everything. It was all show but no rain.
That night i was donated a night of hospitality at The Spotted Chook BnB where i indulged in a luxuriant bath while watching another storm come in, this one brought rain!

The next morning i hobbled into Montville. It is a quaint little village but very touristy, when my Dad wrote a little warning on my map about the prices, he wasn’t wrong! I ended up buying a coffee before leaving the hills. It was not as easy as i thought it would be with dangerously narrow winding roads clinging to the sides of steep hills and heavy tourist traffic. Just as i was about to approach the road i ran into Jill and Geoff, a couple i met at breakfast, who offered to help. Thank you!

Later that day i arrived in Eudlo and met my pack sponsor Dan from Wilderness Threadworks! I love meeting the people who support The Happy Walk and believe in what i’m doing. Dan is an artisan and adventurer who designs and makes great gear. My Luxmore 45L pack is the best i have ever used. After 27 years of solo multiday trekking and bushwalking i have finally found the right pack! Thanks Dan!

On the way to Landsborough i managed to become geographically embarrassed. This often happens when i’m in towns, always in the cities. I tried catching a train to return to where i went wrong and ended up making it worse. It wasn’t until after 8pm i finally found my way to Landsborough Pines Caravan Park exhausted, in agony from the foot problem and feeling very fragile. I didn’t know where i was going to find the energy to pitch the tent. Lisa, the manage, donated a cabin for the night and i had enough energy to pitch the next night and used the day off to see the doctor and podiatrist about the foot.
The thing with foot pain and injury during long multi-month treks is how quickly it throws out your whole body and wreaks havoc on your mind if not treated as soon as possible. An injured toe, plantar fasciitis, severe blisters, old or wrong sized shoes… can cause damage to joints, stress muscles and tendons, twist pelvis and hips, pull back muscles as the body adjusts and compensates for the pain, changes gait, limps and fatigues. I’m not in the outback anymore and after the incredible response to my call for donations i could visit a foot specialist sooner than later. I’m glad i did because the toe has not hurt since the podiatrist helped.

Fresh food has been playing a more important part in my daily diet. Whenever i pass through or camp in a town i eat fresh food and it makes a difference in my physical and mental health. I still eat baked beans from the can but now i can eat them with salad thanks to all my generous beanefactors!
Sometimes cafes donate a meal and this is always very special for me. Not only is the food fresh and nutritious but it has been infused with kindness and gratitude.

From Landsborough i walked along the Old Gympie Road  to Glasshouse Mountains, making side trips and detours to explore places of interest and get better views of the mountains. For a few hours i bushwalked through state forest and national park to get close to Mt Beerwah. 

It was a wonderful day topped off with a room donated by Glasshouse Mountains Ecolodge near the foot of Mt Tibrogargan, surrounded by an edible garden and rainforest.

Leaving Glasshouse Mountains i made the mistake of thinking 19kms was going to be a short day. I stopped to chat with some very nice people, took more side trips including Namgyalgar Tibetan Dzogchen Retreat, more mountain outlooks and a quick rubbish collection at the main tourist lookout. It turned into a 26km day squeezed into only 6hrs which left me walking along a busy dirt backroad in dwindling dusk light. When a local Woodford family pulled up and offered me a lift the last little bit to town i accepted.

I had a weekend off with friends on the Gold Coast coming up so rather than continue on from Woodford into the next range of mountains where there was no public transport i took Friday off as well and spent the day walking along the waterfront between Scarborough and Woody Point before catching the trains south.

Before leaving Woodford i had a delightful encounter with an intrepid adventure couple, Susan and Phil McDonald. It is funny how things happen in life. The day before one of the couples i stopped to chat with and share a cuppa and bikkies at Mount Tibrogargan were June and John from Queanbeyan. That night John calls me to ask if he can give my number to someone they met at the caravan park. A few minutes later Phil calls and we organise to meet for early coffee in Woodford and share some adventure stories. Susan and Phil have already lived big filling their lives with incredible feats and endeavours and next year they will be walking the Burke and Wills track up the east coast of Australia for Fred Hollows Foundation. Phil’s already well known for being a bit crazy. In the 80s he set a guiness world record riding his pennyfarthing bike around Australia!!!

Now the blog is only a week behind the walk. Last week i forgot to mention The Happy Walk tripped over the 14,000km mark. So much has been happening it is hard to keep up. I want to acknowledge all the businesses who help so i will not squeeze everything into this update. 

Next week i’ll share the road section between great walks where i keep meeting wonderful people and recieve the best of spontaneous Australian hospitality.

Thank you

Thank you!

Thank you to everyone who responded when i reached out to you. Your response was overwhelming. I don’t know how to adequately thank you but you give me more motivation and the means to continue. This walk is our walk!
My money situation became a bit embarrassing on the weekend and i needed to ask for help.
I imagine myself being able to survive without money but in reality i feel like i have failed at life when it looks like my next meal will come from a bin, i start sizing up public parks for camping near public toilets and spotting taps that still have their handles so i can have a quick little splash bath and wash some clothes under the cover of darkness. I was also scared i had become a category 1 homeless person, struggling to hold onto my dignity while walking around Australia for Lifeline and mental health awareness. It doesn’t make sense.
It is hard to imagine in 2012 i was wealthy thanks to a gift from my parents. I never hesitated to help others and support good causes because saving lives, helping friends and protecting Earth was/is more important than my own money or possessions. How things have changed. My values have not changed but my ability to act on them has.
It is an humiliating desperation born of my reluctance to keep reminding people of what i’m doing, why i’m doing it and hoping some will deem it worthy of their financial support. If you have been following since the walk began it might feel like i’m nagging after a few requests each year. I don’t want you to feel like that so i try not to ask.
On Sunday and Monday i had the added stresses of an injury needing professional help before it created too many other problems and a miscommunication that lead to this weeks food supply box still sitting on the shelf back at basecamp when i went to collect from the post office.
I had $3.53 to my name and no idea how i was going to get through the week. It takes me a lot of courage to ask for help but i reached out to supporters through Instagram and the previous blog update explaining my predicament and hoping for kindness, compassion and deep hearted generosity. The crowdfund is at The Happy Walk GoFundMe.
Thank you to Mum and Dad, Steve and Sil, Phil, Lisa and Tony, Melinda and Family, Kimmi, Sarah, Mel and Bethany, Q, Fran, Barry, Louise, Katz, Dr Kate, The Brooks, Jayson, Sharyn, Kate, Jason, Lauren and Justin, Karen, Nathan and Sandra for your donations!!!
Thank you for the phone calls and messages of encouragement and love!!!
Thank you for sharing The Happy Walk in conversation and the links with your social media networks!!!
Today i could afford to visit the podiatrist, eat salad, use data on my phone and do laundry because of you. The podiatrist, Jason at Stepping Out Landsborough, also donated a custom fit mould for my toe when he found out what i am doing!

Since completing the Sunshine Coast Hinterland Great Walk i have received even more generous support through accommodation sponsorships and food.
On Sunday night The Spotted Chook Ferme Auberge, a beautiful French style BnB in Montville donated a night in one of their rooms with a big bathtub which i soaked in for 2 hours. I have never enjoyed a bath so much in my life. Thank you Jane and Leeroy for your generous spirit of giving.

Last night after 8, arriving in Landsborough 3hrs late, lost and in a fragile emotional state i found the Pines Caravan Park. When the manager, Lisa, came down to help me i fell apart from pain, exhaustion and relief. Then Lisa donated the Birdsong cabin for the night so i could fully rest and recover. Thank you for your empathy and care for my wellbeing.

This morning Lisa organised for Henry & Co Organic Cafe to donate breakfast and coffee. I couldn’t believe how much i was craving mushrooms, avocado and spinach until it was placed on the table and i devoured it!

Tomorrow night Glasshouse Mountains Ecolodge have donated a room after i spend the day wandering through some of the most picturesque and culturally significant pinnacles in Australia.
On the weekend i am taking a 2 day break with old friends, Greg and Cyndy, on the Gold Coast before returning to resume the walk near Brisbane next week. I will not be walking through the city because of mental health reasons and i get terribly lost in towns and cities but i am still looking for somewhere quiet to stay in Brisbane on Friday night so i can meet any friends, family and supporters who have time and transport.
I still haven’t written about or shared photos from the Sunshine Coast Hinterland Great Walk but i’ll get onto it soon. The photos are slowly being sorted, about 80% get deleted then some need filtering. I realised a lot of my old phone’s limitations last week in dark forest with bright sun or cloud glare slicing through or washing it out around midday and low res in low light between dusk and dawn. When beauty is everywhere all day i must take photos. At least it is a Samsung Galaxy S, the best mobile phone cameras, even if it is 4 generations old. I can’t and don’t need to buy a new phone camera but am open for Samsung sponsorship.
This update has been written tonight on a note app but i will post it tomorrow morning with free wifi, i hope it doesn’t confuse you.

1770 to Hervey Bay

It feels longer since the last update. Time is passing too fast as I walk through some of the most beautiful places in Australia.

“Where has been your favourite place?” is one of the questions people often ask. It is impossible to chose only one place. If I consider all the places made special for the people I meet, a specific location or an entire region, cultural richness, serenity, beauty, sublime rugged wilderness and those adventitious unplanned experiences “favourite” falls into many categories.

The entire east coast of Australia is one of my favourite places, many more are scattered along it and as I walk I am finding new favourites to return to. Sometimes I love a place so much, and know I will return that I hold back from saturating my experience with activity. Rather, I saturate my heart and mind with an invocation of sensory memory and leave a few things to discover and try next time.

Now, where did I make it to in the last update… Spectacular Agnes Water and 1770! So much has happened since then.

On the way out of Agnes Water I visited a couple more places of interest including the Paperbark Walk protected by Bush Heritage Australia. It is a short easy walk through an incredible sample of lush tea tree forest. There is restricted mobility access as some of the walk is across stepping stones where it floods in wet season. If mozzies like you then go prepared.

My intention that afternoon was to walk down the 8km beach from Red Rock to Wreck Rock but it was blowing a strong sandblasting headwind. I tried the official 4WD track instead but after a couple of vehicles covered me in sand and dirt I turned back to the Reedy Creek track and followed the trail along the poleline through Deepwater National Park to Deepwater locality.

When I reached the road again I called into one of the first bush blocks to ask for some drinking water. I didn’t think I was going to make my destination that night so it was safest to refill where I spotted rain tanks. Deb and Bob, Archie, Rusty, Mischief, Rocky, Tassie, Lucky and Lily (the last 7 are dogs) gave me the best kind of spontaneous Aussie hospitality with a hot cup of coffee, great conversation and sent me away loaded up with fresh fruit from their orchard.

Further down the road, as dusk began, I stopped for a chat roadside with Kim Dwyer, her daughter and friend. I was licked and leaned on for rubs by Bear, Izzy and Kemo (not humans). The sun set so they offered me a converted bedroom in their shed and as I indulged in a hot shower they prepared extra dinner so I could join the family. It was a wonderful night.

Twice lucky, or much more, especially if you ask the locals about the packs of wild dogs and pigs attacking people in the bush around  Deepwater!!! It was better to be blissfully ignorant so I could focus my attention 100% on the beautiful bushland without responding to every grunt, growl and twig snap. 

Actually, I am very fortunate to have a brain which picks up on any potential danger as I sleep (or daydream), like subtle changes in sound, smell, wind direction, environmental changes and wakes me if there might be a threat. For example, in the outback I wouldn’t wake for passing vehicles but if they slowed down I half woke and if they stopped my adrenaline immediately set my heart racing and ready to act. Same would happen if my brain smelled cigarette smoke but whenever that happened I could hear the car the smoke trailed out from continuing away in the distance and shut down the adrenaline. My sleeping brain learnt to differentiate between human and non-human foot/hoof/paw fall and woke me only if it heard human. I mention all this only because the night I camped in Deepwater NP I half woke up thinking I could smell a wild boar and dismissed it. The next day I saw tracks and scats for many animals including small deer but not pig and the grunting I heard I dismissed as emu drumming. I probably had a few close encounters but they had no particular interest in me after their stealth midnight camp inspection. I was not so fortunate a week later south of Burrum Heads but more on that later.

Rules Beach and Baffle Creek are place names that have been sitting in my head for years patiently waiting their turn to feel significant. Have you ever felt something is important but with no logical reason, like a hunch or gut feeling? As I walked to Rules Beach I tried not to think of what awaited me, which didn’t work so for entertainment I made up the most outrageous scenarios. Matt Damon was going to be there with his family and invite me to share an adventure story with his daughters, I was going to bump into an old lover (one of the nice ones), a football sized gold nugget would trip me over or I was about to meet my next life coach. None of that happened. It was a long sweeping quiet beach with one family building castles and someone way off in the distance walking into the surf spray.

Baffle Creek Caravan Park is a beaut spot. They host mostly grey nomads during the winter migration and families during the holidays. It is clean, friendly, excellent facilities, well laid out and shaded. It is a well kept secret so this information is just between us, okay. Sally donated 2 nights of camping! Thank you!

Leaving Baffle Creek I had two options, to walk back out towards the highway until I found the bridge over Baffle or wait down at the caravan park’s private boat ramp and ask for a lift across to Rocky Point. On the way out of my campsite I stopped for a chat with my neighbours, Pat, Neil and Vince who also happened to arrive at the boat ramp 10 minutes later, at the same time as I did, so my lift was sorted. Thank you!

At this early stage of the walk my feet were starting to have trouble. The right Achilles tendonitis and plantar fasciitus were flaring up due to the road camber inflaming the pelvic imbalance. The left had some blisters. One was 7cm long and infected so bad I couldn’t fit the boot on properly, it later swelled up more and forced me to stop for 2 days but before that happened I had enough sense to get a lift for the 50 remaining kilometres into Bundaberg.

It was a very quiet road between Winfield/Rocky Point and Rosedale Rd hobbling along 10kms and into the Littabella Conservation Park. If I wasn’t surrounded by all that sweet fragrant blossoming sclerophyll bushland it would have become a lot harder psychologically to hold it together. Anytime I need to make these compromises I feel defeated. After my 10km rest break I continued on but as I heard a vehicle approach I stuck out my hitch hiking thumb and hoped for the best.

Cliff Grills, a true blue born and bred Winfield local pulled over and gave me a lift to town. On the way we made a quick side trip into the bush behind his brother’s block to cut firewood and had a good yarn. Thanks Cliff!

Bundaberg is a strange place for me. It holds good memories and some I’d rather forget. Many years ago as I travelled with my ex-husband we stopped here to do some harvest trail work. I became very sick with 2 infected wisdom teeth pushing through and needed to go to hospital. Unlucky for me it was the same hospital Dr Patel (aka Dr Death) worked in. If you don’t know the story you have probably heard similar stories in other countries where someone pretends to be a doctor and somehow gets away with it for years while destroying lives and killing patients through malpractice. The day I went in to have the wisdom teeth removed they were overloaded and hours behind schedule so he volunteered to take a shift in the dental ward. Remember he was not a doctor let alone a dentist but he decided to take my teeth out under local anesthesia. It was an extended directors cut horror movie, the 3(!) nurses assisting were alarmed and tried to intervene which made him more aggressive. Needless to say he did a lot of physical and psychological damage, including bruises where he dug his knee into me for leverage. Even now, when I looked down the road towards the hospital I started involuntarily shaking. I hope if I return to Bundaberg again I can continue building on the good memories and wipe away the trauma.

Since Bundaberg I have been trying harder to stay off any cambered roads and using beaches, 4WD/dirt bike tracks, fire breaks and pole lines between towns and localities. Mostly this works, sometimes the tracks disappear or are blocked by private property fences. Sometimes the road is the only option. All the small country back roads are quiet so I can switch camber from right to left or walk down the centre when i can’t hear any approaching traffic. This helps prevent the pelvic imbalance getting worse. N.B. all states legislate pedestrians walk on the righthand side facing traffic where no paths are available. (Terra sub clause – just use your common sense and don’t be a traffic hazard)

Walking between Burrum Heads and Hervey Bay I spent a lot of time walking through the bush. It is never a short cut because these tracks are often soft and sandy, meander, require a bit of off trail navigation and beautifully distracting. I had a close encounter with wild pigs on one of these tracks. I smelt them first (they don’t have a dirty farm sty smell, it is more an earthy savory biscuit smell) which meant I was downwind, a good thing. Then I spotted the fresh split hoof tracks on the trail, one large set and 3 small. I slowed down hoping not to catch up with a sow and her young but I came around a corner and they were right there, only meters away! They were probably more startled than I was but I didn’t hang around to find out, I bolted! I don’t mind a bit of excitement in my life but this was a bit too much.

By the way, Burrum Heads is really nice! It is a quiet seaside community which doubles in size during school holidays and is a popular winter destination for grey nomads. The best place to find good coffee and meals is at Julie and Ian’s cafe/takeaway A Taste of Burrum. I really appreciated their support while I stopping in town overnight.

Arriving in Hervey Bay felt good.

Sandra Moran is a strong, inspiring, deeply passionate woman campaigning for suicide prevention. We have been supporting each other’s projects to help end stigma and get people talking, reaching out for help. It was good to finally meet, share our stories, hug, cry and feel the love. Sandra’s charity is called Jaie’s Journey and can be followed through her blog, Instagram and Facebook.

Fraser Lodge Holiday Park donated an unpowered tent site at Torquay. I was quite impressed by how respectful and considerate everyone was of each others peace and privacy, especially during school holidays. It was a nice, clean place to camp and the staff were very helpful and friendly. Thank you!

While I stopped over in Hervey Bay I swapped all my synthetic clothes back to bamboo. I found everything at Go Natural Foods a couple of blocks away from the holiday park and they gave me a discount too! I have been feeling a bit foolish since prioritising weight and drying time over pong resistance. I had been using Boody bamboo clothing for years but they weigh a lot and take forever to dry and I was fed up with that so I replaced the worn out old stuff with cheap bonds products. I had no idea until I returned to walking in the heat just how amazingly pong resistant the Boody bamboo had been (not sponsored). Smell and hygiene are sensitive issues for me, even when I had to go a week between washing while walking through the outback. Because I carry only one change of clothes I wear the first set for 3 or 4 days. So, I am once again a natural fibre advocate. This is also the best choice for the environment as synthetic clothing releases microfibres into the water with every wash which take as long as plastic to breakdown.

Psychologically I have stepped over a line. There is relief knowing the most remote parts of this walk are behind me. Anytime from this point south I venture into wilderness is for pleasure rather than necessity. As a tree hugging plant powered bleeding heart hippie it is also good to be through the cattle and mining intense regions. It is hard to explain the compassion fatigue that results from daily exposure to the things which make your heart ache. Without a friend beside me to talk to and being out of phone range most of the time I carried that pain all the way. I won’t ever wish for a harder heart, apathy or ignorance but I do wish I had more effective coping skills when there was nobody to reach out to or calling me to check in on my wellbeing. If you know someone who has taken on a tough challenge which is going to require everything they have and more, physical, emotional and psychological resilience and strength beyond most people’s comprehension, solitude, isolation and huge personal sacrifice please don’t ever assume their family, some invisible team of supporters or their charity organisation are looking out for them. Be a good friend and check in on them, send them your encouragement and love. You may be the only person who does and it will mean so much to them. Believe me.

I have written this blog during a rest day half way through the Fraser Island Great Walk. It is a truly remarkable place on Earth and I look forward to sharing it with you next weekend when I reach Rainbow Beach.

Week 1

I’ll let the photos do most of the talking (:

Sometimes I um and ah about side trips, especially I have not heard any recommendations. So it was a pleasant surprise when I discovered a local secret, Tannum Sands. The walk/bike track all g Boyne River was equally as beautiful. I met Jan and Karl from Scotts Head who invited me to rest for a chat and cuppa.














There was a section of highway I skipped to get to 1770 and Agnes Water but I stopped in Benaraby, a small community about 20kms south of Gladstone.




This is my favourite part of the dry season. It is cool, low humidity, perfect weather everyday and the paperbarks are in bloom. The fragrance is intoxicating and frenetic bird and bee activity in the paperbarks is mesmerising.



Since 1998 I have dreamt of visiting the Town of 1770 and on Thursday my dream came true. In the late 1990’s I lived on a yacht at Marina Mirage on the Gold Coast and the owner came from up this way. He would reminisce for hours about this part of the coast, especially 1770 and Agnes Water. I fell in love with a place I had never seen until this week and I exceeded my expectations!










You can walk all the way from Agnes Water to the 1770 Headland but if you’re feeling lazy there are a few carparking bays to take shorter 1km section walks to the butterflies, lookouts and beaches.

I met a beautiful family from Tambourine Mountain who walked with me to their camp and we had a cuppa in the sunshine sitting on the beach. Sue, Majeed, Kian and Layla have invited me to stay with them on my way south. Thank you!


When I made a rough itinerary and started sending out accommodation requests I jokingly wondered if I would be blessed with a sponsorship from a spa resort. Lagoons 1770 Spa Resort made another dream come true!

Lagoons 1770 is something special! Initially they donated 1 night but after a terrible night of back problems and waking with spasms each time I tried moving I called the local chiropractor and explained my predicament. I was expecting to pay for the second night but Lagoons 1770 very generously sponsored a second night. Wow! How awesome is that!

It is a really beautiful resort in a perfect destination. If you are planning a visit to Agnes Water and 1770 spoil yourself.











This morning, as I enjoy the clear, clean sunlight reflecting off the pool while indulging in my last real coffee for the next week I am grateful for everything I have and have been given. I am well and rested, the back is behaving and more beautiful places wait for me to find them

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 😀

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

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 😆 )

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

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!