GPW: Halfway Across Australia – the trip so far

I’ve been sitting here for a while now trying to think of a specific topic for this blog. Unfortunately nothing has come to mind just a never ending stream of weird, wonderful, interesting or bizarre stories or observations about things we have seen and people we have met. So that is what this blog is going to be – a collection of stories with no central theme or meaning other than they happened during the first half of The Global Poverty Walk. Hope you find them interesting.

Wildlife

We have encountered a wide range of wildlife on the roads – both living and dead. One day when it had rained for most of the day I was thinking how beautiful it was to see the kangaroo’s come out onto the road-side to drink the water in puddles at the edges. Then I realised a massive road train was coming and the beauty was at once forgotten as I did a mad dash to scare the animals off the road before they became yet another instance of road kill.

I must look like an idiot when I’m on the road at dawn or dusk doing a mad dash along the road to try to scare other wildlife back into the bush. This has included mostly kangaroos but also more recently, goats. Funny to think that in a matter of weeks or months somebody is going to come along doing a Government sanctioned cull and the roos that I have so noblely saved are a big chance of being killed. Oh well, I feel better knowing I have done my part to save a life, even if it is just temporary!

I know there is a bigger picture in regard to culling wild animals but when I saw a long line of camel carcasses one day I couldn’t help but think that the only thing they did wrong was inconvenience us humans and we don’t think twice about killing them as a result. Is that a poor reflection on our society or is it just the laws of nature?

People we have met

I was walking along the other day when a guy in his 50’s pulled over in an old beatup Sigma. He had heard about the walk on the radio and read about us in the local paper. We had quite a long chat on the side of the road. He was telling me how he had been homeless for about 6 years and how he had spent his welfare payments on learning how to read and write even if that meant going without a meal at times. He thought what we were doing was really inspirational and gave me $5 to give to an aid project, even though it was the last $5 in his wallet. He said he knew what it was like to go hungry and even though he didn’t have much he wanted to do his part to ensure someone else didn’t have to go hungry. As he drove off I watched him go with his words “there should be more people in the world like you, keep up the good work” still ringing in my ears. I remember thinking, “no buddy, there should be more people in the world like YOU”.

When I was at footy training with the Koonibba Football Club I was lucky enough to meet several members of the Koonibba Aboriginal Community including their CEO. It was fantastic to talk to them about Aboriginal issues and what they think needs to be done to address them. It seems that boredom and a sense of belonging are two of the biggest problems as these often lead to the other well-known problems that give the Aboriginal community a bad reputation. Also, there is a lot of frustration that the communities are not being asked or listened to when it comes to implementing policies about helping their own communities. An example of this was some funding given to a school for Aboriginal language and culture lessons that was instead used to build a new computer lab. It gets reported as money spent on Aboriginal issues when in fact it was not used that way at all. I often wonder what other issues get miss-reported in Government spiels or media hype.

Excesses of society

One thing I noticed coming across WA was the amount of “money” on the road, presumably as a result of the mining boom. By this I mean the number of expensive cars, caravans, motorhomes, fifth-wheelers, boats and more being driven around. Added to this, it seemed like every second car had personalised number plates. At a cost of $600 a set this just seems to be an excessive waste of money on something with no real purpose or use. Are we that materialistic these days that when we have more money than we need we continue to spend on things with no purpose instead of thinking to give it to people who really need it. Imagine if everyone with personalised number plates donated that money to people living in poverty instead. Imagine how many lives that would save.

There have been a few occaisions where other travellers have asked us why we are walking across Australia and when we tell them it’s about raising awareness of global poverty they reply with “you can’t tell me about poverty, we’re struggling too”. They might not have a fancy car or posh house but they have a car and caravan and can afford the petrol to drive from town to town as they journey across the country. They don’t seem interested in hearing about people in developing countries who don’t even get one meal a day, let alone three. All they think of is that they don’t have as much as others in our community without appreciating and being thankful for what they do have. Maybe the issue is not that they don’t have enough but that others in our community have more than they humanly need. The more we get, the more we want but we don’t seem to be happy no matter how much we have. There has to be a happy balance when your basic needs are met, you have a few luxuries or special treats but you are content rather than keep wanting more and being disappointed with what you have.

Note:  The photos in this article were downloaded from the internet and were not taken during our trip.  A range of photos from the trip so far can be found in the Photo Gallery for this journey.

Matt & Wendy

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