A Better Life!

It has been quite a roller coaster since beginning more than 20,000kms of awareness walks in 2008.

Walking for environmental, climate, justice and social issues as well as raising funds for non-profits has not been easy, sometimes it was heartbreaking and left me with some bitterness and despondency. 10 years of stress.

I carried a lot of responsibility and accountabily and i expected the people i was helping to offer reasonable support. Expectations without clear communication will lead to disappointment.

When i began the final little 900km leg of the walk around Australia last year i decided to walk it for myself. The suicide prevention cause and Lifeline fundraiser was still stuck to it like tar on a bumper bar and i maintained a strong social presence. Although the stress was reduced significantly it was still there.

When i finished the walk and began writing i didn’t shake my old sharing habits. Not wanting to disappoint, felt like i needed to keep providing followers with updates and insights. An unnecessary expectation i placed on myself.

Another old habit i continued to practice was using my bike touring adventure as a platform to promote an issue i feel very passionate about, the reason i started walking for awareness in the first place. I placed a lot of angst and pressure on myself to document and share in the hope to influence change. The fun factor was dulled by imaginary deadlines.

Throughout last year i honestly thought i was freeing myself of stress pushing my own agenda but it was only shifting the stress.

After observing the sudden improvement in physical and mental health after quitting the ride i realised it was time to make some serious changes.

The 1st and most important change was to burn my soapbox. Activism, especially for someone without a close allied community and accessible support networks, is emotionally, spiritually, intellectually and psychologically fatiguing. Over time activists can pay a high price for their passion in physical and mental health.

I’m returning to a quiet, reserved life of adventure where i hope to be an example through simple, considerate and kind choices.

The 2nd important change is supporting others in ways i know from experience will help and encourage. To be available and accessible to anyone seeking moral support, mentoring or a kind word to give them strength and comfort.

The 3rd important change is to drop my walls and open my heart to the opportunity to live this adventurous life with friends and possibly even someone special, share the moments with friends in the moment instead of in a social media feed, to conquer my fear of intimacy and learn to connect on new levels of friendship and companionship.

Dating Profile 🤣

Terra Roam

Single human seeking a meaningful adventurous life with a nice being from any compatible species

7 Weeks!

It took 7 weeks to ride 1,000kms. Most of that was rest days.

What i love about bike touring;

Freedom,

The wind in my hair when i can take my helmet off while on deserted roads,

Seeing beautiful places,

Slow travel,

Adventure choices,

Time to explore,

Meeting other tourers,

Kindness of strangers,

The feeling at the end of a riding day looking back at what i just achieved,

Tailwinds,

Sunshine,

The lightness of riding around town without panniers,

The independence of being your own bike mechanic,

A new comfortable saddle,

Side tracks and back country roads.

What i learnt about bike touring;

It is wise to train before starting,

Headwinds suck,

Hills! There is a reason a bike is also called a pushy,

Traffic,

People who don’t give 1 metre when passing,

People who think it is entertaining buzzing too close to a cyclist,

Narrow busy roads without shoulders and crumbly gravelly potholed edges,

Rain magically turns cyclists invisible,

Fluro hi vis synthetic clothing layers cause heat stress,

I can ride faster downhill than a magpie can dive but not uphill,

Just because i have lots of pannier space doesn’t mean i need to fill it,

Listen carefully to experienced bike tourers as their pearls of wisdom will be useful.

The bike touring and bike packing community is awesome and always willing to support!

Roam 4 Eva – A Rough Itinerary

One of the biggest mistakes I made during the walk around Australia was to set an itinerary and make bookings for talks and accommodation according to the distances I expected to be able to achieve each day. It was an ambitious itinerary and physically I struggled to meet it everyday which caused equal mental stress of failing to arrive places on time, disappointing the people expecting me, losing booking deposits on camping and accommodation and disappointing myself.

I won’t be repeating this mistake during the ride around Australia.

Although there are events I want to participate in, like the Byron Bay World Naked Bike Ride for the “Can You See Me Now” safety awareness campaign, I am not committing myself to it until I am there. It will be more enjoyable for me to relax and ride with the flow.

The only things, very important things, which will limit this freedom of time are the seasons. If I miss the seasonal windows for safe riding it will be a big buzz kill.

The Tropic of Capricorn, a circle of latitude sitting at approximately 23 degrees and 26 minutes south of the equator or 23°26’S, crosses Australia at Rockhampton on the east coast and near Coral Bay on the west coast.

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Image: https://www.researchgate.net/figure/Australia-north-of-the-tropic-of-Capricorn-Source-CSIRO-2014a-p-5_fig1_264311449

North of the Tropic of Capricorn you have 2 main seasons, wet and dry. There are other subtle seasons marked by changes in humidity, storm build up, predominant winds, flowers and fruits but wet and dry pretty much split the year for agriculture and tourism.

Wet season, from early October to late April is hot and humid with lots of rain. If you are not acclimated to or raised in the tropics it can feel unbearable and can be fatally dangerous if you go exploring unprepared. The heat alone can vary between 36 to 45 Celsius ambient and the humidity is like a Turkish sauna, relentless. You can’t go swimming in beaches or estuarine rivers because it is saltwater crocodile and box jellyfish seasons. Salties have been known to migrate more than 500kms inland via river systems and waterhole to waterhole in wet season. Roads can be closed by floods for weeks, sometimes months, towns and homesteads marooned. Every evening the sky fills with storms and for a moment everything is violently lit by lightning and cooled by the rain. Unless you have experienced a wet season it is hard to imagine.

An example of how hot is gets is an experience I had in April 2016 during the walk around Australia while attempting to walk south in Northern Territory. I ended up being hospitalised on my first attempt but one day a late afternoon storm passed over dumping about a month of water in 5 minutes. It had been a hot day, 36-38 Celcius but not too much humidity. I walked down the quiet Stuart Highway, the air above the road was about 60C and the road was melting at above 70C. My drinking water inside the barrow insulated by clothes was 40C and the water bottles hanging in the air outside were too hot to drink unless there was a breeze which could cool down the dampened bottle carriers. When the first drops of rain hit the road they hissed and turned to steam! The steam off the road hurt to breath.

Dry season, May to September is completely different, it cools down to a very pleasant 20-30C and the air is dry. At night in the desert it can even drop below 0 degrees Celsius! Salty sightings are generally only further north in the Top End and no deadly stingers in the water.

Everywhere else in Australia you have a general European 4 season pattern. As I ride through different regions I will expand on more traditional Australian seasons used by First Nations for travel and harvest. The European seasonal calendar is basic compared to the seasonal calendars used by both settled and nomadic aboriginal groups throughout Australia.

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Images: http://www.abc.net.au/science/features/indigenous/

For this reason I have set a goal of reaching Townsville no later than May 2019 so I can rest for a week and push for Cape York, around the Gulf of Carpentaria then through the true outback to the west coast by September. It will be hot and humid from Brisbane on the east coast heading north and from Broome heading south. It will be uncomfortable sometimes but I will have dodged the worst of it.

The first year of this 2 year ride is designed around that big section across the top. The second year is all about loitering around the southwest exploring walks and rides until summer passes, outback 4WD adventure traffic picks up again and it is safe to set my course through the deserts to arrive at Yulara in winter 2020.

When I say “rough itinerary” I mean week to week and day to day but also season to season. I start in Adelaide Hills on October 18th 2018 riding counter clockwise and hopefully finish in Canberra in November 2020. I will also have tailwinds most of the way!

Patreon Photo Gallery

Did you know I have a Patreon page?
 
My page is called Terra Roams and I am posting adventure stories, photo galleries and the occasional video for Team Roam!
 
Team Roam are the supporters who have pledged a minimum of $2/month to help as I write 2 books (was 1, now 2) and ride around Australia for 2 years.
 
These are exclusives which I will not be posting on facebook, instagram, linkedin or the blog.
 
There are 7 levels of support starting at $2 and every level gets access to locked posts, photos, stories, videos and a real stamped postcard from me.
 
Today I posted 10 K’gari photos, unedited.
 
Click the link, have a look around and pledge $2 🙂
 

Big Heart Adventures Event

In Adelaide I had the pleasure of meeting an intrepid adventurer, Lisa Murphy, who has turned her passion into an empowering business called Big Heart Adventures.

We caught up a few times to share stories and organise a speaking event in Adelaide before the ride begins.

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Lisa took me under her wing and introduced me to other adventurers and women of impact. Some real eye and heart opening moments meeting women who gave me new perspectives.

We have organised a night to talk about the record setting solo unsupported walk around Australia, which I finished in May, and launch the next big adventure, Roam 4 Eva.

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On October 16th, 19:30 – 21:00 at Fullerton Park Community Centre I will be presenting a slideshow and regaling the audience with stories from my 17,000km solo unsupported walk around Australia. I’ll share insights and fun anecdotes from 30 years of adventure travel and solo wilderness trekking with a few big life lessons thrown in for good measure. Before answering questions I’ll launch Roam 4 Eva and introduce the big 2 year ride around Australia which starts in Adelaide Hills 2 days later.

This is a ticketed event and $2 of each ticket sold goes to Trees For Life. Roam 4 Eva will be an adventure platform to promote conservation, culture and community so I have chosen to support a South Australian not for profit conservation group for this event.

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Tickets cost $15.34 and we have sold nearly half the tickets already! Click HERE to but tickets.

If you are in Adelaide and have that night free please come along and share it with me.

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Hayley Talbot

“We can kayak across the river? I’ll tow a kayak across and meet you there. Let me check the tides.”

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Kayaking across the mouth of the Clarence River is nothing for Hayley Talbot who became the first person to kayak the 400km length of the river, from source to sea, solo and unsupported in May 2017!

It turned out the afternoon tide was unsafe so I met the legend in Yamba at the ferry jetty. All afternoon, evening and the next day we shared stories, anecdotes, dreams and passions.

It doesn’t matter if your solo unsupported expedition is 4 years long or 400kms long, we discovered we shared very similar physical, emotional, spiritual and psychological challenges and were rewarded in ways we could not possibly have imagined before starting out on our epic quests.

Incredibly, when Hayley began planning her kayak expedition down the Clarence River she had never kayaked before. We can all learn a thing or two about dreaming big and turning it into reality from her story.

There is no holding her back! Hayley has more adventure planned.

Hayley is also a talented writer and spoken word poet. 2 months ago she published her first book of poetry, Of The Ocean, inspired by the river, ocean and their connection to our lives. Her words are moving, descriptive, inspired observations and presented beautifully in a textured book full of photos of light and sea.

You can buy the book at hayleytalbot.com/product/of-the-ocean/

“Surrender and control are not mutually exclusive –

Just because you fall doesn’t mean you can’t swan dive”

Thank you Hayley for inspiring and empowering young women to be true to themselves and live their dreams.

You can learn more about Hayley Talbot and follow her blog through the website hayleytalbot.com

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http://www.travelplaylive.com.au/magazine/hove-to-from-the-source-to-the-sea

https://thenorthface.com.au/blog/hayley-talbot-on-motherhood-adventure

https://www.dailyexaminer.com.au/videos/hayley-talbot-river-journey/49525/

https://www.dailyexaminer.com.au/videos/hayley-talbot-arrives-home/49536/

Hayley, we’ll paddle together when I visit again.

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I Did It!

On the 2nd May 2018 I became the first woman to walk 17,200 kilometers “AROUND” Australia alone and without any support vehicles.

After more than 4 years of walking, injuries, surgeries, mental health management, starting 4 different blogging platforms and abandoning 3 of them, quitting facebook with 6K followers then starting from zero again a year later and the same with Instagram, quitting Twitter at 1K, constant changes to plans, 3 very close calls with death and circumnavigating an entire continent on foot, it is finally a completed quest.

There will be no more of these walking diary posts because I have another big quest starting in 2 months. I’ll leave you with a bunch of photos and media links.

Australian Geographic

Red Bull

ABC News

Weekend Today

Newcastle Herald

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And that’s a wrap!

 

Nearly There

Now I was getting into very familiar territory, places I visited as a kid. Growing up in the Newcastle region with parents who enjoyed driving around the countryside on the weekend we explored the area in which I was walking. Myall Lakes and Port Stephens were also places we went camping and swimming in summer as a family.

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It felt good walking through here during the final days of the walk around Australia.

After leaving Sugarloaf Point Lighthouse I wandered on down the beach toward Yagon where I planned to continue following old closed vehicle tracks and the beaches all the way to Hawks Nest for 2 days. At the Yagon camping area I planned to fill and sterilise water from the water tank but the tap was broken. This presented a dilemma.

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While trying to collect a trickle of water the tarp dried out in the warm breeze but the smell of bushfire smoke was getting stronger. As I walked to Yagon camp it was strong enough to hurt my throat but dissipated closer to the beach. My logic was to continue and stay close to the beach where I would be safe if the fire came close. There was a weak phone signal from the surf viewing platform so I checked the fire map but there was nothing in the area or close enough to be creating that much smoke so I called it in and was advised there was nothing. I was standing there in smoke!

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This started agitating me and I was getting nervous so the most sensible option was to return to Seal Rocks, this I did with the help of some lovely people visiting Yagon at the same time.

Reflections Holiday Park Seal Rocks was booked up with Anzac Day long weekend holiday makers but they found me a quiet spot up the back to hang the hammock. The storms that night were spectacular and I was reminded how great my Tier Gear Goshawk hammock with Torrent tarp are. I stayed dry! Between storms I needed to get out and re-peg a couple of tarp lines in the sand, the wind was pretty fierce and I almost lost another peg. The secret to a dry night under a tarp is to keep it clear from any object, if the inside of the tarp is touched while the outside is wet it is no longer impervious. This rule applies to most tarps and tent flies.

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The next day Plan B was implemented, walking down the Mining/Old Gibber Rd. This is a 4WD road closed off to all traffic except national parks vehicles and permits are given to some commercial fishermen to access the lake. It has been made an official walking and riding track between Mungo Brush and Seal Rocks. From 9am it rained for 2 days. It rains every single time I walk through here. Rain brings a different kind of beauty to the landscape.

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I had no idea where I was going to camp that night. I was not going to make it to my favourite camp, Stewart and Lloyds, but I wanted to explore the Mungo Track through tea tree swamp track to Brambles Green along Myall River. My topographic map indicated it was a through walk with a closed track back out to the public road.

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If you’re looking for a wonderful short walk from Mungo Brush try Tomboy Firetrail to Myall River and then the Myall Track all the way to Brambles Green. Wear insect repellent or cover up as there are long sections of boardwalk above the swamp. It is spectacular, surprisingly picturesque even in last light. Along the track to Brambles Green you pass an old ruin where a small logging camp stood many years ago. The big old boiler and rail tracks are still there but be careful where you step, it is over grown and uneven ground.

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Before I could get as far as Brambles the rain came in heavier so I camped in the swamp between a couple of old tea trees. It poured rain all night and I was glad to have found a rise of slightly less damp ground by the light of the headlamp as it became an island overnight. The next morning I was packed up and back on track before sunrise. It is always a special experience walking through the bush at sunrise, listening to everything waking up around you.

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From there I made my way across to Dark Point, discovering a large anchor buoy, torn free during a storm, washed up on the beach. I’m not talking about the kind you see at yacht clubs, this was a car sized buoy, probably beached overnight because the barnacles were alive. I find many fascinating things on beaches, natural and human-made.

In Hawks Nest I was suddenly overwhelmed with exhaustion after walking down the beach on high tide, against the wind and through several small storms. My intention was to get across to Nelson Bay that afternoon and have a day off so I turned it into 2 easy half days, watch the dolphins and rest at Reflections Holiday Park in Hawks Nest. Hawks Nest is just far enough away from Newcastle to feel like a small seaside community but close enough to have all the facilities like a surf club, cafe, supermarket and pub. It is a very popular summer holiday destination and pleasantly quiet between school holidays.

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The Port Stephens Ferry Service runs between Nelson Bay and Tea Gardens, a very scenic journey down Myall River and across the bay past the shoals and sentinels of Yacaaba Head and Tomaree. I’ll let you in on a secret, it is the best way to see dolphins, much cheaper than the dolphin watching tours and a higher chance of seeing them. I have caught this ferry numerous times and always see several dolphins, sometimes turtles, stingrays and sharks.

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Disembarking at the boat harbour in Nelson Bay someone called out my name! Colin and Lyndal were following my walk and come down to say “Hi!”. That half day I had planned turned into an awesome day with new friends drinking coffee, climbing Tomaree and ending the day eating the most delicious wood fired vegan Mexican pizza at Cartel Pizza Co, sipping Laphroaig whiskey and sleeping like a rock in the guest room. Thank you!

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Blueys By The Beach

At Blueys Beach I celebrated my 46th birthday and Blueys By The Beach donated a room for 2 nights!

Thank you!

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It was finally beginning to feel like autumn with increasing wet and windy days and cold nights. The change in weather began draining my energy or just made me moody. I’m easily effected by weather. Walking every day, through all weather, sleeping every night in a hammock in the cold, dew, storms, wind, is a challenge. I accept the challenge as I know the rain and storm will pass, the stars or sun will appear, everything will be good again in the sunshine. Sometimes I escape and stay indoors to rest properly.

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7 mile beach

Walking from Forster to Blueys I went through 3 storms. After the first 2 it was sunny and windy so I dried out but not after the 3pm storm, it stayed wet and cold for 2 days. You can just imagine how lucky I felt staying at Blueys By The Beach, warm and dry. I couldn’t have asked for anything more on my birthday than clean clothes, dry gear and comfort.

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After 2 restful nights I continued south. I often don’t know where I will end the day when I start, it depends on how fast I walk, obstacles, distractions and change of plans. This day had all of these. I set off from Blueys and headed out to the Lakes Way, taking a few side trips to both get off the road and simple curiosity. Eventually I stood opposite the dirt road I had planned to take back out to the beach, it was Saturday, peak fishing season and busy with 4WD traffic stirring up a perpetual cloud of dust. It was supposed to be a way to cross the sandbar and find the old tracks to Seal Rocks Road, not a short cut, just a better way to walk/trek than up the road, but I had already made a Plan B and Plan C.

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Seeing the dust stirred up by all the traffic I decided to try Plan B, walk to Smiths Lake, have a soy latte at Frothys and hitch a lift across the lake to a track on the opposite side. A father and son came in to the boat ramp after a day out on the lake and they agreed to take me over. We couldn’t see the track so they dropped me off at the research campus. I was able to refill my water bottles, shelter from a storm and recharge my phone before continuing to Neranie Camp, arriving in last light, setting up the hammock in the dark. One of the other campers came over to check out my Tier Gear hammock system and invited me over to meet the family who just happens to be “Journey By Foot” aka Amy Simpson who organises bushwalks in and around Sydney.

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As I had not planned to be camping at Neranie and their online booking system glitches if you try after 5pm I had to illegally camp and in the restricted area because there were no trees on the campsites suitable for the hammock. I had to leave before sunrise to beat the rangers. Brigand or Buffoon, sometimes I’m not sure but situations like this call for a bit of both.

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At least, at that time of the morning it was cool and quiet on the Seal Rocks Road!

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This is a pretty road, some fog clung to the trees and above the sky was clear. Birds flew between trees and across the road from canopy to canopy while wallabies and other small marsupials went about their dawn business. There is a creative streak amongst the humans of Seal Rocks on display along the road too.

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I have been to Seal Rocks only twice before, walking up from the south and when I was touring the east coast in Reggie (Regina), my old 1972 kombi VW camper van. It is a beautiful township, just far enough off the main road to have escaped development but still very popular with holiday makers. The beaches are suitable for families, there are a few surf spots and lots of accommodation and camping options.

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If you love coffee then you will love the Single Fin Coffee Van who made me 2 soy lattes when I reached the top of the hill. It was exceptionally good coffee and I’ll be making a detour on the next expedition for another. I should start advertising the next expedition as a coffee tour of Australia.

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The Memory Sandwich

Have you ever had a memory sandwich?

Let me tell you what a memory sandwich is but first let’s walk to Crescent Head.

The east coast of Australia is one of my favourite paces in the world. From the Queensland border to Newcastle is my favourite section of the east coast. Between South West Rocks and Point Plomer is possibly the most beautiful stretch of coast in the world. In Australia 2 places draw me back more often than any others, Thredbo and Crescent Head.

As a kid my family spent summer holidays in Arakoon National Park near South West Rocks. We went walking around the headlands, beaches, bush but mostly played in the surf. It was here Dad taught me to count sets. He was a surfer in his youth and i occasionally watched him watching the ocean. He also taught me to let the salt water hold me and float over the swells when I was about 6 years old on a holiday at Noosa. I am not a surfer but I love watching the Ocean’s patterns, it is comforting.

The beach to Arakoon is littered with ruins from the convict gaol’s jetty and I found a big old ring bolt, possibly petrified dinosaur poo or a rusty croissant.

The walk from Trial Bay Gaol to Smokey Cape Lighthouse is spectacular. It is medium to hard with very steep sections for climbing and traversing. It passes some small coves and gullies on the way before finishing at the lighthouse picnic area. It is inside the national park so there are no garbage bins, please carry out everything you carry in to help keep the place beautiful for the next visitors.

By the time I finished cooking dinner it was dark and storms were coming in fast. There was a very brief spell when the rain lightened enough to get the hammock up. It was an awkward set up using two branches on one tree but I was warm and dry and nodded off watching the 3 beams of light rhythmically passing over like counting sheep. Youtube link to Smokey Cape light sequence in storm https://youtu.be/Te3HLpWpTpk

By this stage in the walk I was running ahead of schedule so it was possible to walk half days. From Smokey Cape to Hat Head was a half day, arriving at 11am. On the way I found a heap of huge ancient middens, mounds of white shells and bones discarded from Aboriginal camps. I stopped for an hour to watch the birds, gangs of seagulls walking down the beach catching sand crabs, oyster catchers sleeping in wheel ruts, scores of terns standing on their stumpy little legs, one leg, sitting on the dry sand crests of the scalloped beach looking out to sea waiting for a shoal of fish to swim by. After a while they behave as though I’m not even there.

When I arrived at Crescent Head I found an empty picnic table and laid out all my camping gear to dry. This is a ritual most days. If I start early my gear is packed away wet with dew and condensation which needs to dry before setting up that evening. A few people near by watching me were talking about how the homeless are ruining the place, with raised voices so I could hear. I thought of engaging them in conversation to chat about walking around Australia but chose to tune them out and enjoy the view instead.

I had an appointment in Crescent Head for a leg wax with Kate at Beauty and the Beach. It was still too warm for winter insulation. Kate transformed me back into an hairless ape again.

At this stage I hadn’t decided where I would camp but being familiar with the town I knew of a few places I could hang my hammock, quietly free camping where nobody would notice me. As Kate and I chatted, the plan to stealth camp came up, and Kate came up with a better plan. She invited me to be her guest for the night!

From being shamed in the park for being homeless that morning to being invited into the home of a compassionate human who was a stranger hours earlier. That was not how I envisaged the day to pan out 🙂 I love these surprises and I love being reminded everyday that this world is full of kind, caring, generous people. The next morning Kate packed me a Memory Sandwich for lunch and some healthy wholesome snacks!

A Memory Sandwich is a sandwich made from dinner leftovers. As I ate the sandwich the flavours brought back memories of smiles, laughter, stories and great company. Thank you Kate! You are a Trail Angel!