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Big Walk_1

A BIG WALK - Step by Step

Posted on December 2, 2014 by
Raymond
on the road at
Sydney

 

My last expedition, The Great Australian Crawl, is dead. Long Live the Great Australian Crawl, sent to my small pile of projects that didn't work, not the least because of an untimely heart attack that robbed me of momentum and, if I am honest, of passion.

 

But you can't keep a good man down, especially ones whose raison d'être is exploration in one form or another - I search google maps therefore I am - and so I give you my next project.

 

Conventional wisdom says you give three public speeches. The one you want to give, the one you do give and the one you wished you have given. It is the same with a big journey. As I plan my next expedition, my mind and soul clearly reside in Stage One. Before a foot has hit the ground the adventure, a walk from Sydney on the east coast to Alice Springs in the heart of Australia, is playing its highlights package in my mind. In as yet unseen landscapes I stand with my dog, faithful hound, the breeze lightly caressing my hair, pondering thoughts beyond the ken of normal men. My feet don’t hurt, flies fly in another world, my back isn’t a spine of pain. The trolley I pull glides effortlessly behind me like a reindeer’s sled. The hard plains of the outback, the searing heat of the midday sun and the freezing desert mornings, are just  twirling screen savers to the central theme of my indomitable will. I cling to the Lao Tsung's saying, that the 'a journey of a thousand miles begins with one step’ as though that’s all I need to do. 

 

 

I’ve walked a long walk before, 1,200 mountainous kilometres along the Great Divide Range, and I should remember the hard lessons from that walk, that it’s not just the first step or the last that define a journey's success or failure, but the thousands upon thousands in between; step by step; thought by thought; story by story. If the showreel of my as yet un-walked trek were to stop for a second, I would have to admit to a deep apprehension, because by any stretch of the imagination this is A BIG WALK!

 

 

So come March 1 - 2015, I head off; old dog, new rickswag, ever hovering anxieties, solar-powered devices, photographic equipment and Californian dried food in hand. We will work our way over the Blue Mountains, through the New South Wales outback towns of Bathurst, Cowra, Grenfell, Hay. Up through Mungo along the Darling River to Broken Hill and then into the Flinders Ranges and Lake Eyre to Oodnadatta. I might then trek along the back way to Alice thru the Finke Mission or even the Old Andadoo Track if absolute isolation has called me. From there I will double around the back of Mt Sonder into journeys end, Hermannsburg. 

 

I need help through. Tommie, unlike me, is getting old. I figure we can walk in the mornings and then pull up in the middle of the day before heading off again in late afternoon. He loves a good morning walk but crashes after that. My rickswag has a bottom compartment which carries about 60 litres of gear and I'll place my pack on that. It is a simple matter to then carry it  on my back and let Tommie crawl up onto the rickswag. I will monitor how he is going but I am hoping that local people can come and give him some R&R from time to time. I really think this is the best solution. I can't not take him, it would be like Laurel without Hardy - Tommies the fat one - I just have to manage and monitor him. There is a slight chance he will become reborn.

 

I am kind of hoping I will as well. I need to walk again. I need to feel unencumbered again, or as much as is possible while pulling a rickswag. I remember the feeling of walking along the Great Divide from Melbourne to Sydney. I remember when I walked the desert for months on end. There were moments of such bliss, such abandonment, such freedom that made a mockery of my current sedentary self. To be honest, driving a bus was almost as bad as not moving. The massive steel avatar surrounding me did daily battle with my wanderlust, and it won.

 

The photo above was taken at 6am near Balranald. After my little shoot I walked along the road. A giant kangaroo and two joeys watched me as an emu ran away. The light hit the curve of a creek, a gum tree creaked, a butcher bird gurgled and blue clumps of saltbush aligned into the distance like mop heads with product.

 

I realised, not for the first time, that some people are at their best in the middle of nowhere on a lonely country road. The Big Walk will prove or disprove that idea. 

 

Raymond & Tommie 

 

Read Tommie's daily WUFFINGTON POST on FACEBOOK

 

Send your thoughts and stories to or call Raymond on 0414 929768. If you wish to speak to Tommie just leave a message.. 

 

Comments
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Patricia Lang
Reply
Wishing you all the best with this new adventure Raymond, I am keeping my fingers (& toes) crossed that your not taking on too much of a challenge for the both of you. Happy Holidays!
Raymond
Reply
We shall see Patricia. Just a step at a time
Carlene Bott
Reply
Raymond and Tommie we (Me and SamDog) will follow you all the way, hoping that many friends offer you both some overnight cheer and shelter, perhaps a little rest for Tommie then meet you later with a refreshed Tommie.  All our very best wishes.
Raymond
Reply
Thank Carlene. Dont leave for a few months. It is all about the planning now.
Jacinta Hickey
Reply
Wish you well Raymond,dont over do it.Everytime I head down to Melbourne and see the great dividing ranges,I think of you on that walk and think how tough you were and still are.Have a good christmas and look forward to hearing more about your big walk.Good luck xx
Ronna
Reply
Great plan, Swagman. Has Tommie tried out the rickswag yet? Sounds like you're glad to be rid of the bus. Looking forward to being with you electronically on your journey.
Raymond
Reply
He can just fit on OK Ronna. It wont be as luxurious as the Swagmobile but he loves the road. Just need to find some people who will come and take him from time to time. 
Doris
Reply
The good thing about planing is that you can change it (in the last minute )I like that rickswag ! Maybe a sail or a kite could even pull it ... Well happy planning , Xmas New Years be well doris
Raymond
Reply
Yes Doris. Love the rickswag. I thought maybe an unbrella for when Tommie is resting. 
Anne
Reply
I envy you Raymond. I'd never do it but I can dream about it and only imagine the sense of freedom of walking slowly each day toward a destination.
Raymond
Reply
You can join me online at least Anne
Anne Kuperus
Reply
Good luck on your big walk, Raymond. Sounds like a fantastic adventure ... Wish I could walk part of it with you !
Raymond
Reply
I am inviting people to walk sections with me Anne. Maybe a week at a time.
Anne Kuperud
Reply
I would love to, but I'm on the other side of the world ...
Pippa Brown
Reply
Would love to be able to help out with taking Tommie if possible. Live on south coast nsw but love to travel. my friend and i have tent etc. would it be possible to have him stay with us  so he can have a rest and then drive to meet up with you.
Raymond
Reply
Hi Pippa. Yes that would be great. Maybe Ill drive down and let Tommie meet you before we head off. But oif you can come and meet us on the way that would be brilliant
Ingrid Petersson
Reply
G'Day Raymond and Tommie, Your plans for this Walk of your Life has come far and I'm so excited for you. You write is very poetic and it took me back reading your book again. We will certainly have something special to wait for, wandering in your foot steps, see fantastic photo's which is a joy for us. i wish you all the best. A pat for Tommie. Enjoy Christmas with family, Ingrid
Raymond
Reply
Hi Ingrid. I look forward to you following me as well because I think we can engage in a fascinating conversation.
Ingrid Petersson
Reply
Yes Raymond, it sounds great. I like as you know The Outback of Australia very much. Do you Believe me when I tell you that Stockholm had 5 hours of sun in all November, a new record for that month, the old was 8 hours. Enjoy the sun. :)
Liz Ashburn
Reply
What a wonderful project. Love to catchup if you are in Sydney.
Raymond
Reply
Hey Liz. Its an incredible thing but I was thinking of you a couple of days ago
lee bruce
Reply
Breagha and I will follow with great interest .I have missed your blog posts and observations. Mindfulness is the key,there is a lovely walking meditation by a famous monk,shall send it to you at some point but its starts ,' we shall walk,we shall just walk' Good luck.
Raymond
Reply
Thank you Lee. I start singing very quickly when I am on a long solo walk, usually Old Man River and then talking to myslef in an Irish accent. 
lee bruce
Reply
I too sang when walking and when walking my three children in their buggies. now my singing voice has gone and i so miss it. My grandfather used to sing "i love to go a wandering with a knapsack on my back" to me to put me to sleep.
tricia steel uk
Reply
Go for it and good luck. Sounds a great goal.
Raymond
Reply
Excellent Tricia. I agree. Go for it. 
Cecilia aka Glenda
Reply
O M G !!! I am still trying to get my jaws back up into the right position! Is there anything you can’t or won’t do? Been now twice in the Simpson with the pack camels and drove back to Alice on the Colson Track. The Simpson is magic, unforgiving, captivating, overwhelming country, especially when on foot. If you google my name my flickr stream should come up and there is an album called "Simpson North". You may experience similar conditions on the Andado Track, although, we did not walk on any tracks and we did not go near Andado. Whatever you do, stay safe. As you say " step by step", put one foot in front of the other again and again and you'll get there! It's a hell of a journey and I wish you all the best!
Raymond
Reply
Hi Cecillia aka Glenda. For anyone reading Cecilia is a remarkable woman. She did many walks with me and is an intrepid adventurer, a wonderful photographer and a great lover of the Australian outback. Maybe you can join Tommie and I for a little section Cecilia.
Rosemary Watt
Reply
Good luck on your new journey. I thoroughly enjoy the photos & daily insights into the world around you both.
Raymond
Reply
Thank you Rosemary. There will be lots to come when we hot the road and a lot of work to do before then. 
Leigh
Reply
Hey mate....'bout time you got off your backside!... looking forward to following your footsteps (metaphorically speaking). All the best for you and Tommie
Raymond
Reply
Reckon you should come and walk a bit with me mate, literally speaking.
Jenny everson
Reply
Good luck with your new journey. I hope that Tommie withstands the journey. Keep well and stay safe. I envy you A big pat to Tommie xxxxx
Raymond
Reply
Hi Jenny. I do as well. I will ask people to to take hom for weeks at a time I think. But you never know. He might just love it and I can pull him as I go.
Patricia Lang
Reply
How are you holding up Raymond? You are in my thoughts as I know how hard it must be for you. Take care mate.