GPW: Crossing the Nullarbor

Sorry its been awhile since our last blog but internet service has been quite limited and to be honest doing a blog is the last thing I’ve felt like doing at the end of the day. We have had some tough days and some not so tough days but there definitely aren’t any easy days when walking across the Nullarbor.

Getting it all in perspective!

Wendy and I have been reading the book “The Boy Who Wouldn’t Die” by David Nyuol Vincent (Fairfax Books, 2012) throughout this section of the walk and it has given us a lot of insight into poverty and the life of refugees trying to escape poverty, war and death. It has also given me a great deal of motivation and put my walk into perspective especially on the tough days. Reading this book makes me realise even more how lucky we are in Australia and even though I am undertaking a massive physical and mental challenge, I have chosen to do so and I have a lot more support and resources than David did when he walked for several months across southern Sudan to reach a refugee camp in Kenya, all at the age of 8, one of many long walks he would make in his life.

We definitely experienced a great sense of isolation whilst crossing the Nullaror and our lives became focused on food/water/power however we were able to carry at least 50 litres of water with us, had stocked up with food at Kalgoorlie to last us at least a month and were able to rest at caravan parks at least once a week. David made a similar journey on foot, with no shoes, 5 litres of water between him and his father and no protection from the blistering African heat. Whilst we were disgusted by the smell and sight of numerous dead kangaroos, eagles, camels and wombats, those fleeing southern Sudan had to endure the sight of numerous bodies of others who could not complete the journey or who were so desperate they consumed poisonous water or fruit.

20130301_05_matt-walkingOur greatest challenge by far were the blisters on my feet, we had to disinfect them every night, put dressings on every morning and work out the best combination of footwear to reduce the likelihood of new blisters and lying in the caravan with my feet up at every break. At the time it seemed to be a massive challenge and really tested my endurance and perseverance. Then I read in David’s book that he made his trip in bare feet, across scorching hot sand and rock, and only had a blanket and the hard ground to sleep on. Whilst this does not take away from what I went through and I am proud that I have completed the first stage of my journey still relatively intact, I can’t help but reflect on some of the “hardships” that we complain about in Australia and realise that they pale into insignificance compared to what people living in poverty have to endure. It has made me even more determined to keep raising awareness and fighting for a fairer world where extreme poverty does not exist and everyone has access to food, water, education and healthcare. There will still be the rich and the poor, those with more than enough and those who are struggling, but there is no reason for the millions of people who die every year to be going without when we have so much more in the wealthier countries. Not sure how we will make a difference but we are even more resolved now to keep working on it.

Weather

The weather across the Nullarbor was pretty kind to us, only hit 40+ on a couple of days and a lot of southerlies came through which kept the temps down. The main bonus was the number of overcast days which made for good walking conditions.

Rubbish

One of the most disappointing aspects of the journey is the amount of rubbish on the sides of the roads and the rest areas. People seem to think that it is ok to throw drink bottles, wrappers and even dirty nappies out of their cars rather than bagging them and putting them in a bin when they stop. There are quite a few bins at rest areas right the way along the Nullarbor so its not like you have to travel too far to do the right thing!

Meeting people

The most enjoyable part of the whole trip for both me and Wendy has been the amount of people we have met. Quite a few motorists pull over to check that I am ok and some of them then pull up and have a chat. We’ve also met some interesting characters and a few cyclists riding across for various charities or reasons.

The most memorable were a couple of UK cyclists, Mat & Ant, who are riding around the world to raise money for Brain Tumour UK. They have been through America and New Zealand and are now riding from Melbourne to Perth before heading over to Asia to ride across the Himalaya’s and back into Europe! Mat’s best mate was going to ride with him but then suddenly died of a brain tumour so Mat & Ant are now doing the ride in his honour and have bought his ashes along with them to scatter along the way. Best of luck guys, we will follow your progress on your website www.travellingyoung.co.uk.

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90 mile straight road

Now this was a part of the trip that I had been dreading as I hated riding it last year, but surprisingly it wasn’t anywhere near as bad as I thought it was going to be. It took us nearly three days to complete it and as you can see from these photos, the only thing that changed was the weather. The road was long and straight with the same scenery all the way along but it was just another road and with my head down and feet pounding I hardly noticed any difference from other days.

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Well that’s it for our journey across the Nullarbor.  We are having a few days rest in Ceduna and will recommence the journey on Tuesday 19 March when we set off for Port Augusta and then on to Adelaide – bring on the footy!

Matt & Wendy

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