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.

Can you please help?

Can you please help?
I’m needing a bit of help at the moment to cover the costs of the walk like sports therapy, food, shelter, camp fees, cooking gas, phone data…
I ran out of money 2 years ago after putting in $70,000 of my own, including selling everything of value, and in the last 10 months i have been donated $3,500 through crowd funding, gifts and the Australian Geographic Society  sponsorship.
Last night i was generously donated a room at @the_spotted_chook This is a rare luxury, donations in kind and sponsorships don’t happen often and i never take them for granted.
This morning  i have $3.53 to my name. Yesterday morning i had $8 after someone left $5 beside the road for me but i needed to recharge my phone so i bought a coffee and waited an hour before walking the last 12kms. In the afternoon i unsuccessfully tried finding the bins at another cafe on Baroon Pocket Dam to look for scraps because i was hungry.
It causes me some stress and embarrassment especially not having money for laundry or replace my torn and stained clothes and broken gear.
This walk for Lifeline has required many personal sacrifices and money has been the biggest.
No Lifeline donations have been used for walk expenses.
If you can help please visit https://www.gofundme.com/thehappywalk 
A temporary link is also in my thehappywalk Instagram bio if you go to my page. 
If you prefer to make a direct bank deposit my Westpac account details are: BSB: 732-720 Account: 557812 and it is still in my old name.


Thank you to everyone who has already helped out🤗

Cooloola Great Walk

Another incredible week of The Happy Walk has passed. 

Only last week i said goodbye to the caring and supportive women i met in Rainbow Beach. It would have been easy to stay longer in the company of such strong and resilient women. Thank you Brooke, Kirstie, Pearl, Jacqui, Glenys, Kay, Delila and Xavier. Thank you also to Cafe Jilarty for keeping me caffeinated and donating breakfast, Rainbow Tropics Hideaway BnB for donating 2 nights accommodation, Rainbow Hair and Beauty for braiding my hair for the walk and the massage i was too embarrassed to accept and Rainbow Beach Surf Club for donating dinner. Pearl and Kirstie ran me around town and Pearl even loaned me her car for the day. A fundraiser was run by Pearl while i was in town to raise $100 for the online Lifeline fundraiser and her grandchildren wrote messages for me to carry on the walk.

There were a couple of parcels to collect from the post office including a care package full of yummy food and a special handmade card from Iris (and George and Nikki) in Canberra. I ate everything during the next 5 days on the Cooloola Great Walk!

I struggled to integrate back into society after K’gari but also a whole bunch of things were heavy on my mind including an humiliating lack of funds, poor sleep, misunderstandings, being judged for my size by strangers, carrying the wrong gear for the unusually cold nights and some personal heart/mind conflicts. I tried going with the flow and breathing through the stress but kept catching myself doing the old anxiety tics. For a few hours i relaxed when i joined Pearl and the family on dusk for a walk down Rainbow Beach but the next day i woke more tired than i arrived. 

The result of this was a series of 7 anxiety or panic attacks before and during the first day on the Cooloola Great Walk. After 4 attacks i called Lifeline who tried helping by encouraging me to talk through how i was feeling and why. Unfortunately it didn’t help because i was on the edge of another attack throughout the entire call which hit when i hung up. Thankfully my sister in law, Silvana Nossiter of New Leaf Counselling, broke a counselling rule and took a couple of hours out of her morning to help me, even had me laughing and taught me about the 4 realms of self that need attention to maintain balance and holistic health – physical, mental, emotional and spiritual. Talking to Sil/family helped greatly and i had only 2 more anxiety attacks that afternoon while walking. It was a rough start but everything smoothed out later that afternoon.

 

In Rainbow i met Brooke, one of the wonderful people who has been following The Happy Walk through Instagram. For me these moments are special, an opportunity to say thank you personally, not just words and emoticons on a screen. Several times Brooke suggested i visit Poona Lake on the first day of the Cooloola Great Walk but i was set on visiting the lighthouse which meant missing the lake track. As it turned out i found myself sitting in one of the most peaceful places in Australia. Thank you Brooke!

The Cooloola Great Walk stretches approximately 90kms across the tops of the high vegetated dunes between Rainbow Beach and Noosa North Shore. 

It is a relatively easy and safe 5 day walk with 4 walkers camps, toilets, rainwater tanks and communal cooking/gathering areas perfectly spaced apart for comfortable days. Be sure to book online and plan to avoid holidays and peak season.

The track is clear but often slow and sandy, much more sandy than the Fraser Island Great Walk. It is in the Great Sandy National Park after all. 
The landscapes are spectacular and ecosystems keep changing throughout the day. Birdlife and wildflowers are delightfully prolific.

There were not many walkers on the track. Infact, I had ever section of the walk entirely to myself meeting other walkers at night in camp on the 2nd and 3rd nights. During the day it really felt like i was the only human out there.

The first walkers i met were a Steiner school group learning to appreciate Nature and some useful bush skills. My first reaction on seeing them in camp was to keep walking but one of the teachers invited me back and i had a chat with them all about walking around Australia and Lifeline. These young adults have not been squashed my institutionalised learning. Their minds are open and inquisitive. This was a refreshing experience after the high schools i visited around Australia.

On the very last night i shared the camp with 2 other walkers but we didn’t meet. They arrived after midnight, chatting away while climbing the hill. They scoped my tent site and exclaimed their surprise finding another walker. Then they were quieter than the mice.

With each day my body is regaining its old strength and stamina. Core strength is speeding up back recovery and my general physical health is great. I am back to walking 15kms before lunch and setting a good pace so i have plenty of time for lazy morning meditation and relaxing late afternoon reflection (but this will change again when i go across to the mountains).

Noosa has been fantastic! The day i arrived i saw a post from an inspiring Melbourne woman whose Instagram tag is erica_walks_a_lot who was visiting Noosa for a Fred Hollows charity walk. So we found each other on Noosa Main Beach, Erica found me, and had dinner together with Ingrid and Mark who bought me a giant salad! Another special moment meeting a mutual follower and walkers.

Noosa holds one very special childhood memory for me. In 1977 Mum and Dad and 3 small kids came here. I was 5 Linda 2 and Steve wasn’t even walking. Early one morning on sunrise Dad took me down to Roses Cove on Noosa Head, took me behind the wave break and taught me how to still my fear and let the swell gently lift me up and over. I learnt to float in the ocean here 40 years ago. It is one of my most cherished memories.

I wanted to share a lot more with you but i think you need to come an experience it first hand.

Take every opportunity to get outdoors and explore Nature, go on a backpacking adventure, lace up your boots and go bushwalking. 

Humans are part of Nature yet we have lost our connection with the natural world. Reconnect. Love and respect Nature. The more time you spend surrounded by beauty the more you will want to protect it.

This week i cross over the highway to the Great Dividing Range and start walking through the mountains towards Brisbane. A whole new world of wonder and distracting beauty awaits me.

K’gari – Fraser Island Great Walk

On the 12th of July i lived up to a promise i made myself 19 years ago. One long weekend in 1998 an old partner, Phil, and i took his Toyota Landcruiser to Fraser Island for one of our regular micro adventures camping, bushwalking and exploring Queensland. I look back on that time in my life as one of the best years with a wonderful person (I did a runner when he mentioned marriage and children). Fraser Island was the most memorable trip together and i promised myself to return with more time to explore the forests. 

For 19 years i have had an image imbedded in my memory of tall, cool, shaded, lush, green forest. It is exactly as i remember but this time i had 12 days and walked almost 170kms of beach, bush and rainforest, experiencing far more magnificent and fine beauty than i ever dreamed i would find there. 

This was more a personal detour than part of walking around Australia. It would not have been posible if i was still pushing Dory the alloy custom barrow. Carrying the pack means freedom to take every opportunity to explore more. 

Self care for me means bushwalking,  appreciating Nature and solitude. It means some focus is taken away from the cause and less campaigning but the shift to practicing what i know to be important for my mental health will hopefully encourage more people to make their wellbeing a priority.

The Happy Walk, raising awareness about suicide prevention and funds for Lifeline, as a survivor of multiple suicide attempts, has been a passion project to help prevent suffering and promote happiness all around and across Australia.

Moving away from the campaign to just walking and talking is an emotional relief. The walk started on World Suicide Prevention Day 2012 but my campaigning and awareness raising began the year before when i organised the first Port Macquarie Out of the Shadows Lifeline walk and this year i feel i have done as much as i can. 

These side trips into Nature and Wilderness help restore strength of mind and spirit. It is important to me.

Fraser Island is the name we most commonly use but before white Australians started using it for logging and whaling the Butchulla people called it K’gari. K’gari means paradise, joy, peace, plenty, utopia, serenity, celebration, contentment, happiness. I was filled with all these feelings.

K’gari is unique, there is no other place like it on Earth. A World Heritage listed sand island approximately 120kms long and 20kms wide with 80% of the world’s perched lakes. 98% of the island is national park, most of that is forested and protects some of our oldest living trees, ancient giants forever protected for many more generations to gaze skyward in awe of their majesty.

Some of the oldest places are sanctuaries for thick rainforest teeming with new life and constant competition for canopy and nutrients. There were moments when the sunlight filtering through the foliage glowed green across the forest floor. The beauty brought me to tears, overwhelmed with gratitute and euphoria. My heart was full.

Hundreds of photos can not portray the magnificence of K’gari. You must try to visit, to stay, walk, feel, immerse yourself into a full sensory experience of true paradise. 

The Fraser Island Great Walk is the best way to experience K’gari. The official walk meanders across 70-90 kilometres between Dilli Village and Happy Valley. It is an end to end (through) walk but parts can be day walks or shorter multiday sections accessed via plenty of feeder tracks from both the west and east shores. Every part of the walk is rewarding no matter how much time you have. 

If you have enough time i highly recommend exploring the feeder tracks, breaks, lookouts, lakes, all the side trips and throw in some beach walking because it feels good too. If you are a confident hiker you don’t need to stick to the traditional end to end. I walked more of a figure 8.

Avoid holidays and peak tourist season to be certain of booking a peaceful site in the walkers camps, experience a deeper intimate connection with Nature and more pleasant beach walking with fewer 4WDs passing.

Check with other walkers and rangers about track conditions and map inconsistencies. Sometimes there isn’t water, the showers might be disconnected. There are many large fallen trees across the tracks, some need climbing or sliding under and some have new tracks around them. The path is always obvious and ground and gradient is easy. The only slow soft sand is close to the resorts and villages.

Dilli Village is a great place to stay with helpful and informative caretakers, Diane and Bruce. The sites are only $10 and you get free BBQ plates, hot showers with complimentary soap, shampoo and conditioner. I enjoyed their hospitality on the way and returned for 2 more nights with the interim caretakers, Ali and Ian, who allowed me to help out with a few jobs including setting/checking wildlife cameras on the way down to the Inskip Barge. Thank you for looking after me. Ali and Ian were also caretakers at Eyre Bird Observatory a few years after my stint there, small world!

Dingos are an iconic part of K’gari and their populations are the most pure in Australia. Dingos have been in Australia for atleast 20,000 years so you could say they are native and should never be labelled as wild dogs or ferals. Dingos behave differently and are only a threat to humans if provoked, sick or starving. While in K’gari follow the rules posted everywhere to prevent human dingo interactions. Dingos who become too brazen around humans are killed so don’t encourage them. It is always special to see a dingo and i have been very fortunate to see as well as hear them on K’gari and many others in the outback and alps over the years. The dingo has been a significant animal to me since an otherworldly totemic experience in 2009 so i feel very protective of them. 

I have been the humble recipient of incredible love and support from the Rainbow Beach community and will share more with you next week as i take 2 days off in Noosa.


I need to wrap up this update because it is late and i start the Cooloola Great Walk tomorrow morning. Let’s chat more next week.

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.

Thoughts

On change…

I am glad the walk has taken this long. The time has given many more opportunities for personal growth as well as a broader appreciation and awareness of my country, people and my place in it. 


Often I wished I had walked faster and pushed on through all seasons so I could move on, to other adventures and different human-powered travel (: In reality, if I rushed I would not have enjoyed it half as much and the valuable process of change would have been lost.

Likewise, I am grateful the support vehicle side of the walk fell away during the early planning stage. Without a support crew I have had far more meaningful interactions, learn to ask for help and felt protected by community. Most importantly, I have met people (and continue meeting people) who will always have a special place in my heart.


An handful of supporters are still following the walk since I started collecting forum advice back in 2011. It has evolved and been through some big setbacks and changed. When I needed a year off and went through the lengthy public health system to have 3 tumours removed and an hysterectomy in 2013 many early supporters assumed it was all over but the walk had only begun and my motivation grew stronger while waiting.

Originally I wanted to walk 32,000kms in 7 years and do lots of presentations everywhere. I quickly discovered I was not a public speaker and without support and training it was easier to limit myself to fun, active, succinct talks with small groups and classes sharing a genuine interest in what I had to share.


I’d love to be trained in pubic speaking and I would love to share the things I have experienced while walking around Australia. I want to empower everyone to live their dreams, dream big and live an adventurous life. There is so much in my heart I want to share and I hope one day someone will teach me how to.

I think the greatest changes I made for my mental wellbeing were the distance and fundraising targets. As soon as I halved the time and distance a huge weight lifted. 7 years and 32,000kms was doing my head in. Just a simple 16,000km lap, in my own time, felt good and now I’m out of the tropics there is no need to race the monsoon build-up to a destination. It feels like my entire being can breathe with freedom of space and time.


Of the many things this walk has taught me ’embracing change’ has been one of the most useful.

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

Day One (of the last leg)

This morning I return to The Happy Walk after 7 months recovery break feeling good about it.

With only about 2,900kms remaining I am not concerned about time, deadlines, racing the seasons and especially not breaking any personal distance records.

This year the walk will be relaxed, setting comfortable distances and achievable goals. This year I’m number one. My wellness and wellbeing will come first. Not a new concept but something I have never applied seriously before.

Throughout this leg of the walk I will be seeking support and sponsors who can help me stay focused, balanced and strong through wellness therapies, chiro and physiotherapy. It is my nature to push myself as far beyond my limits as I can before my body or mind snap. This is not the smart way to do things so I need to rewire my brain for self-care and responding appropriately to warnings. I’m proud of my mensa IQ but this doesn’t automatically translate to high emotional or body intelligence quotas. In fact, on these levels I am like a child.
For this reason I am prioritising self-care as one of this years personal growth goals and there is no better place to learn than in the environment where I find it most convenient to ignore my own needs.

On Thursday and Friday I attended the Happiness & Its Causes conference with my brother and sister-in-law, Steve and Sil, in Sydney. It was amazing! Beth Phelan, the organiser extraordinaire of Vijrayana Institute Conferences made this possible. Thank you Beth!


Many of the presenters have given me plenty to think about as I walk and I’ll share a few of their insights and research with you through Instagram stories.

I haven’t tried this Instagram story thing before so please bear with a week or so of mistakes. I’ll still post to the normal feed as usual.

I’m feeling well rested after a luxurious night in Gladstone Mercure. I felt like a queen! Thank you to Craig and the staff for sponsoring The Happy Walk and looking after me in Gladstone. I arrived exhausted and almost missed dinner because I fell asleep as soon as I stretched out on the giant bed. They even made a personalised room card!!!


Writing this is now becoming a procrastination. I need to get going. I can’t guarantee how often I blog, I’ll try as often as I get free wifi.

If you would like to catch up as I walk down the coast please email me at thehappywalker@gmail.com and we’ll try to catch up. When I reach Newcastle in October I will be completing the “solo” lap of Australia and, if you want to plan ahead a bit, from there to Canberra I welcome walking buddies to join me for a day or two, especially along the Great North Walk.

I hope to meet more supporters along the way so don’t be shy, come say “Hi!”

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!