Brisbane to Mount Tambourine

I have been a slacker. So many times I have opened up the blog to write and no words come. I can’t explain it but tonight I feel wordy so here is the long awaited Brisbane post which I will merge with Tambourine Mountain. You will need to wait a little longer for Lamington National Park, O’Reillys Rainforest Retreat and Binna Burra Lodge, they will have their own posts because these are very special places in my life and need extra words and photos. Ok, let’s get into it!

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Last time I shared the walk, before the broken ankle, I was on my way into Brisbane for the second time. I had left Samsonvale RFS and arrived at Ferntree Gully. I did not walk through the city because it is disorientating and causes asperger sensory overload.

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In Brisbane I stayed with Ali and Ian for 2 nights. I met Ali and Ian at Dilli Village on K’gari (Fraser Island), but we have other shared history as caretakers of Eyre Bird Observatory a few years apart. I really enjoyed their ethos, a love and lifelong curiosity for Nature, actively protecting and restoring the environment and intellectually stimulating conversations. They have photo books and slide shows from their 2 caretaker stints and it was a real blast from the past watching and listening to their stories.

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On Monday morning I met TV presenter Madison Holly from Brisbane 7News with Mark behind the camera doing an excellent job of walking backwards along narrow bush tracks and over logs for a local news story which went out across Queensland. It was a surprise and relief to hear from 7News. They were the only local media programme interested in the story and I was super grateful. I was starting to get a bit worried my walk and cause were not newsworthy after so many local papers and radio programmes for the last 14,500kms had picked it up.

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On Monday afternoon I caught up with some more people I had met on K’gari, the Totally Wild TV crew! Arika had organised an entire afternoon of filming with Jesse, Shane and Richard around Mt Cout-Tha Forest. It was an amazing experience, lots of fun and hopefully will be enough to make a good story on their Ch11 kids show. At one stage, towards the end of the afternoon I kept forgetting some of the things I wanted to share with the young viewers and realised how incredible Jesse’s memory is to get it right and how patient the crew were when I couldn’t. Shout out to Shane, a master with the camera, making it less scary than I thought it would be and quite a bit of fun at the end after my brain switched off by sending me into the bush.

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While in Brisbane I caught up with more people I had met during the walk. It was an absolute thrill to see Naomi again!!! The first time we met was on the west coast as I began setting up camp on the Murchison River, 100kms north of Geraldton. Naomi arrived with a group of people who joined me for sundowners and we had a great time. The next time was later that year up in the Kimberley near Halls Creek as she travelled across the top end in a big bus with Boss kitty and Dan. It was noon but their planned camp was less than 10kms away so we caught up for a few hours, mine was a little bit further on the side of the road under some boabs where I could forage some bush tucker. The next morning I was walking at first light and they stopped for coffee as they passed at sunrise and I shared my breakfast boab fruit with them. Later that morning another traveller stopped to deliver a bag of fresh veggies, fruit and muesli bars from Naomi and Dan. That was 2 years ago and I am so glad we stayed in touch through Instagram all that time. We caught up again in Brisbane with her brother Dan and friends Rob and Eachan! I hope we can do that again where ever our paths may cross and next time it’s my round.

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For the last night in the city I stayed with Ven-nice, Jen and Theo. Ven-nice is one of my more recent track friends, we met on the Sunshine Coast Hinterland Great Walk. You know when you meet someone very briefly, just a quick conversation full of insight and you immediately feel a connection through shared interests. This was our encounter and thankfully she offered a place to stay in Brisbane and we were able to spend more time talking about the things we’re passionate about. The next morning I started the walk south from Brisbane feeling pumped.

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I caught the train to Logan to avoid the city and started walking along the “country” road towards Tambourine. What looks like an alternative road heading out of the city into the west turned out to be a very busy, winding, narrow main road with NO shoulder or verge for walking and every third or fourth vehicle was a quarry truck. After more than 17,000kms of awareness walking experience beside roads this was the scariest. I wasn’t sure if I was being a sook or the heat (36C) was getting to me but it sure felt like I was going to become the cause of an accident. About 12kms in I found some shade for early lunch and deliberated for a few hours about making up the distance of that road somewhere quieter and safer.

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As I sat there eating a banana and Blue Dinosaur Bar the traffic was getting heavier, constant and loud, it wasn’t near school pick up hour yet and I would still be on the road at peak hour. Without any idea if the road shoulder would improve I had to make the call to walk as far as a safe pull over bay where young Tim gave me a lift to the quieter Tamborine Mountain road about 20kms further on.

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It never feels good skipping any distance, it is always risky walking beside the road but sometimes the risk is too high. Besides, through Lamington, Springbrook, Wollombin and Nightcap National Parks I have many opportunities to well and truly make it up. In fact, since it happened I was able to walk an extra 23kms during a rest day at O’Reillys Rainforest Retreat. * I am writing a brief post separate to this about distance calculation and disclosure of where I needed help.*

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As planned, I made it to the Bearded Dragon Hotel, Tambourine, at the foot of Mt Tamborine on the Beaudesert side. I had heard about this place months before getting there and when I finally arrived they helped me out with a spa room for the night in a boutique country style homestead. In and around the pub there is a vast collection of antiques, including old tractors, pub memorabilia and fair dinkum Aussie stuff. What impressed me most was the impressive kitchen garden used for the busy restaurant. I really appreciated staying there!

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As usual, I didn’t start walking as early as hoped but the road up Tamborine Mountain was still relatively quiet and I felt safe for the first 7kms. Then the tourist traffic, buses and courier trucks joined me on the section which had just narrowed to wind and climb up the steep slope. I didn’t need to think about it for long and turned around, jogging back down to a safe place to wave down a car for a lift up. No, I’m not going to make this a habit, I’m just not okay with what feels at the time like a very real prospect of being hit or causing some other serious traffic accident on parts of the road the locals consider dangerous without an extra pedestrian obstacle. Again I was fortunate to get a lift from a lovely couple who had recently made a tree-change from the city to a large rural block they were tuning into a rescue sanctuary and art studio. I can’t remember their names unfortunately but when I think of them I imagine a willow tree and an amethyst. They dropped me off at the Curtis Falls walking track.

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I had not made any plans to stay with the Tamborine Mountain family I met at the township of 1770 back near Gladstone as I wasn’t sure if I would walk down the Canungra “goat track” on the other side that afternoon or not. I gave myself 4hrs to do as many different things as the mountain had to offer including a waterfall walk, mountain coffee, glow worm cave, wine tasting, watching paragliders, returning someone’s lost phone which started ringing when as I stood at a beautiful lookout and picking sweet little mandarins growing over a garden fence. I still have good memories of visiting as a kid on a family trip and we did some other waterfalls, posh open gardens and went thunderbird egg hunting (natural occurring round rocks filled with rapidly cooled crystalline formations from local volcanic activity).

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It was 4pm when I reached the one way stop/go lights for the “goat track” down to Canungra. I paused at the top deciding whether to camp there and make and early start or camp at the bottom risking walking the last few kilometres in the dark. It was too late and far too short notice to phone Majeed and Sue. There was a good patch of soft flat grass across the road so I put away the phone and took a long drink of fresh filtered mountain spring water supplied by a local just up the road before going across for a closer look. I was open for options but still wanted to push on a little bit further.

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Just as I was about to continue a car pulled up on the little mountain road across from the lights and out jumped a young fella whose happy face I recognised immediately, Keyaan! Then Leila and Sue. It was my friends from 1770!!! They actually lived right there just above the goat track on Mount Tamborine. Unbelievable!!! Every day Keyaan had been looking out for me walking across the mountain. If only I knew I wouldn’t have hesitated calling at short notice. I’m not a believer in things happening because of some greater plan or predestination but this encounter made me wonder.

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It is impossible to describe how I felt at that moment. Ashamed that I did not call them but relieved and grateful they drove past at that moment when I was about to leave the mountain and over the moon they invited to stay. Keyaan and Leila walked me back to their home and I was given the official tour of a legendary backyard filled with adventure and the stuff of wild imagination. In the driveway I nearly stepped on a small handmade flag of Sweden so I picked it up and it is now my bookmark to remind me of the friends I have there and all over the world who I met in similar ways to meeting Majeed, Sue, Keyaan and Leila.

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It is unlikely I will ever live in a house where I can invite well met travellers to rest and share their story. It is one of the most humbling experience when a stranger opens their home and shares their food, company and friends with me. The closest I will ever get to repaying the favour or paying it forward is to welcome travellers to join my camp if our paths cross and let me boil some water so I can make you a bush brew. We can talk about the stars, the most beautiful things we have ever seen and what makes us happy.

 

 

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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.

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.

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