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Big Walk_3

FOOD GLORIOUS FOOD

Posted on March 25, 2015 by
Raymond
on the road at
Sydney

 

Two weeks out from the our BIG WALK, I'd like to explore with you the nuanced feelings that overtake me before any long journey. I'd like to examine a range of thoughts, both hopeful and pessimistic, that flow turbulently as D Day - April 1 - looms. I'd like to, but I can't, because all I can think about is FOOD.

I am just completing the food preparation. Think planning for a 6 month BBQ for one but with a hungry dog. Think arranging food drops in outback towns from Sydney to Alice Springs. Think trying to find a five different ways to make stew interesting, to keep my body alive with adequate nutrients while my appetite stays vaguely excited.

 

 

I've done this before which helps. I operated walking tours for years in the desert where we catered for up 20 people for 7 days in remote places. When I walked from Melbourne to Sydney  I buried food along lonely 4 WD tracks and dug them up as I walked. Sometimes snow had fallen on the dig sites making location pretty tricky. This time it's easier because I am walking roads and tracks, leaving food parcels for the next section in the starting town. So on the section from Broken Hill to Yunta for instance, which is 200 kilometers, I calculate 10 days walking at the rough average of 20 ks a day, meaning the parcel contains 10 serves of breakfast, power drinks, damper, lunch and dinner, plus 20 serves of dog biscuits for Ralph, one for morning and night. 

I know more about nutrition now. I didn't have enough protein before and got terribly undernourished. I made Ghandi look like an overeater. My menus look like this: Breakfast - porridge, powerdered milk, dehydrated fruit and lots of it. Morning tea - power shake with all kinds of protein powders, cacao, chia and milk powder. Lunch - this ends up being my main meal, or did on previous big walks. I stop about 11am and string up a hammock for a rest then make a meal and a cup of tea. The meal comprises combinations of pasta, beans, vegetables, rice with a flat bread made on the fire to accompany them. Dinner will be a soup like corn chowder or vegetable soup with damper. The ingredients came from Harmony Foods in America, they just didn't have anything like this is Australia. I have about 6 bean types from pinto to lentils to navy beans; all kinds of spices; 16 vegetable groups. All are dehydrated and are simply placed in water and simmered, which I will do over an open fire. Ralph will be given fresh food when we get to town and the best quality biscuits when on the road. 

Throughout all this planning I have to remember that swagmen used to walk with some bully beef, a billy of water and some flour. Incredibly tough bastards.

Expedition planning differs from holiday planning in almost every way. The frantic pack of a suitcase the night before departure is replaced by the engineering of a life support system, the first part of which was in place six months ago when I ordered my walking trolley from Holland. The device allows me to walk hands free with the load spread between my hips and my back. I have never known such freedom carrying a large weight which will probably be around 50 kilos by the time I add my food. Its credentials are impressive having been the trolley used by a woman who walked 20,000 miles around the world. I have christened it the rickswag.

My dog Ralph adds another issue. It remains to be seen how far he can walk. The remedy is simple. Well for him anyway. When he is stuffed I carry the pack that usually rests on the rickswag's bottom compartment and he can sit in its place. That keeps us moving through his exhausted moments even as it increases mine. 

Power to my electronic gear - camera, laptop, mobile etc - is supplied by a solar panel that sits on the back of my pack and charges a battery from which all devices are replenished nightly, as long as the sun has shone. Where mobile coverage exists I can communicate nightly thru email and Facebook however there will be weeks on end without coverage and so be it. That's where I'll get my writing done. 

Camping gear is simple and of excellent quality. I have the latest inflatable mattress, a vital luxury; a two-person tent to cater for one person and one dog; a Hennesy Hammock to be strung up between trees for the midday siestas after lunch; a down sleeping bag and stainless steel cooking gear. I will carry a water purifier for suspect water and might throw in a satellite phone in deference to safety.

I'll be carting my heart attack preventing drugs but might well inadvertently be conducting an experiment in recovery from cardiac trouble - eat beans, don't read about terrorism, ours or theirs, and walk for 6 months with a dog. By leaving on April 1, I hope to arrive at the end at the end of September. Then I travel back in my bus to film different segments of the trip. I forgot to tell you, I'm filming the trip.

All of the above affect speed, efficiency and comfort but not neccessarily success or failure. Those old swagmen traversed thousands of miles of dusty road, often in the heat of summer, although in truth they did also die terrible deaths.

There is another planning that goes to the heart of the difference between an adventure and a holiday. That is the stealing of the soul to those two bookends of the human experience - heaven and hell. Within the complexity of the Australian landscape both are inevitable.

But enough procrastination because 60 kilos of dog biscuits have to be portioned into 360 serves. This might be my last newsletter before I head off but I want you to be part of this Big Walk. There is a practical way to WALK WITH US which allows you to explore the journey in a deeper way. I mean, there's not much chance you will walk to centre of Australia, and I am yet to do so, but there is a way you can be part of this, to come inside an expedition as it happens, to watch intimate videos from the side of the road before the sanitising treatment inevitable in post-production. In a very real way you can help make an adventure happen.

Check it out - WALK WITH US.

Bon appetite! 

R & r

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Comments
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Annie Downes
Reply
Great report Raymond, I like the sound of your menu, it should hold you in good stead.  This is an epic adventure, great for the soul.  Please do not allow yourself to become exhausted and keep Ralph close by, 1080 is a real problem for curious dogs out there.  I know, horrible thing to put in a blog but I just had to say it.  The Australian desert in my favourite place in the whole world, sometimes it touches you so deeply the experience is indescribable, it is not just scenery and a completely encrusted star studded sky at night, it holds magic, there is something else and for me it is not stretching it too far to say it's where the soul of our country meets and enfolds the soul of the traveller.  
Raymond
Reply
Hi Annie. Thank u for your eloquent comment. I have a number of stragies to deal with baits, mostly keeping Ralph on a lead. I will also have a muzzle as much as he and I wont like it. 
Barbara
Reply
Good luck Ray and as dad used to say "all you wish yourself and more".
Raymond
Reply
Thanks Barb. He would have also thought it was a bit dopey but been secretly proud. Your bro xx
Susan
Reply
I am so chuffed to read this, Raymond. Being Canadian, I am loathe to intrude or be pushy :) - just goes against our mushy natures! But I was glad to read all about your plans. It gives me some comfort. Sounds like good planning all the way around. By the way, what the heck is "damper"? What an epic journey you are setting out on! Having never been to Australia, the desert there is rather beyond my imagination. I am so glad to be included in your journey.  The only problem is - weeks on end without hearing anything? The suspense will be unbearable! Best wishes always, Susan
Raymond
Reply
Hi Susan. Damper is a very simple bread made with wholemeal or plain flour, water, oil and salt. I will cook it on a frypan. It will taste better and better the further I go and the simpler my tastes get. The really remote sectios occur in the second half of the trip so no ones needs to worry for a while.
Ingrid Petersson
Reply
Hi Raymond, Great to read about all preparations in this walk. Certainly a Big challenge for you and Ralph. It will be great to "walk" with you. I wish you all the best! Ingrid
Raymond
Reply
Hi Ingrid. Just drove a long section from Yunta to Broekn Hill which I will be doing in reverse. Its going to be a hell of a long walk.
Ingrid Petersson
Reply
I'm sure Raymond, not a walk for everyone. I will be so exciting to "walk with you". :)
Cecilia
Reply
Your preparations are mind-boggling to say the least! Both, Ralph and you, look well and the food reads yummy. I always appreciated how much organization went into your Central Australia walks, but the preparations and organization for your hike of a lifetime certainly tops everything. I will be in Alice Springs early August, so, if you run for a bit for some of the distance and get to the Alice a bit earlier than anticipated, I may even run into you! Wishing you a great journey and, of course, “Break a leg!”
Raymond
Reply
Hey Cecilia. I met Rex Ellis the other day, the famous desert walker. I am not sure if you did his camel trek but hes a terrific bloke. 
Cecilia
Reply
I have one of Rex Ellis' books and Andrew Harper, the cameleer I am doing the treks with (in June this year again) worked with him, knows him very well too and then bought the Outback Camel Company of Rex Ellis. Small world! Unique men and there are not many of those era left. One of Andrew's camels, Morgan, featured in the movie 'Tracks'. i feel really priviledged to be able to taste just a little bit of the camel times.
Raymond
Reply
Yes hes a great guy. Very modest and self-assuming, a bit like myself.
paul bateman
Reply
great story, good luck to you and Ralph on the walk .I have walked in the desert it is a special place.
Raymond
Reply
Cheers Paul
lee bruce
Reply
all will be good that is good, and this is very good indeed you will have a great trip.
Raymond
Reply
Glad to have the Scots with me Lee
Kate Hazell
Reply
I admire your spirit,immensely! Go well Raymond and Ralph
Raymond
Reply
Hi Kate .. we shall see how it is over the coming months.
Maria Tresols
Reply
Be safe Raymond. Break a Leg!
Raymond
Reply
Thanks Maria. I said that to a woman who I worked with in theatre when she left the Opera House becuase she had fallen and broken her leg.
Ronna
Reply
More best wishes from Canads. Your walk appeals to our outdoorsy souls! I am thrilled to be in the virtual walker group. Your walk is something I wish I could do for myself, but this is the next best thing.I am glad you have Ralph for company. I was awfully worried when you talked of making the trip with Tommie. I miss him, too, but looks like Ralph will keep you busy! Best wishes and glad to help you make The Walk.
Raymond
Reply
I am glad to Ronna. We are developing a group of very interesting people and I think the discussions will be fascinating.