Thanks to Tri Sled who made it all posible.
Ben Goodall on right -
worth checking on
TOLL Shipping brought it to Burnie without charge
Timberland Burnie donated the timber
It is ready to go, with my companian Teddy.
Hot day for start, took the shirt off, paying for it later.
How cruel - only two months of life left.
On The Western Explorer
Echidna - usually much darker
Not much level road
The only spot on 126 km of Western Explorer where I could possibly pitch my tent.
Camp under a roof at Corrina. Could not even drive the pegs to the ground. It was like concrete, but the chair did the job!
Rain and hail on the ferry
Welcome and presentation of donations. Only few of of many of them in this photo.
Climing up the road from Queenstown - not a big deal!
Once I got into my tent, I felt at home. No worries in the whole world.
My tent - mycastle!
Highlands - the Hydro country with huge hills
A reasonable campsite 22 km from Hamilton
Much better camping at Hamilton
Fundraising in Hobart
I was very happy when this "lady on the hill" contacted me after the walk - she is Amy Rogers and the girls were not her daughters. She was only visiting and took the girls with her to meet me.
Safe under a roof
Drying out at Swansea Tourist Park
Geeorge, one of the most generous man you will ever meet and a real gentleman.
Another example of a migrant, Australia can do with many more like him.
Overlooking beautiful valley past Scottsdale - a good reward for pulling up the hill.
Michael Ferguson - very community minded
One of the terraces at Joe's appartment.
Mila, Joe and Mr & Mrs Bonney enjoying nice dinner followed by best wines Joe could offer
Beautiful lighting of the swimming pool.
Joe Chromy outside his beautifully redeveloped "Charles"
The Marik family
Sometimes I was lucky to find a spot for my tent and it was not always very pretty nor comfortable. But always better than nothing.
This is it!
Ready to drive back to Devonport
The last night at Blight Heads
Many people have been asking me recently WHAT NEXT?
So here it is. The heading says it all – almost. The main difference is, that it will be solo, without the traditional support from my wife Jo. It will be a big challenge, I will have to carry all my supplies and look after myself all the way. It will test me. But I am looking forward to it.
I have been very lucky to get a lot of support in obtaining the rickshaw. First of all it was Burnie Musical society who offered a loan of their rickshaw which was built for their musical „King and I.“ It was a generous offer, but the rickshaw was not strong enough for the trip. Luckily, a Victorian company Human Powered Vehicles was asked for an assistance by CanTeen staff and the Director Ben Goodall decided to built the frame with wheels as a sponsorship. He did a wonderful job with it and when ready for shipping, I was again lucky with Toll Shipping bringing it accross the water to Burnie free of charge. Our friend Jarek Sztendur picked it up from the factory and delivered it to the wharf. To complete the woodwork , I was again very lucky to have the necessary timber donated by Timberland in Burnie and then Rudi Winkler, a very experienced cabinetmaker, made the seat for it in a record time and a perfect quality. My friend Vasek Otahal, the owner of Burnie Engineering service installed brakes, which will be needed when I am negotiating steep downhills with full load and my next door neighbour Rex Johnstone got a belt for me to help pulling it uphill. It was a team effort to get the rickshaw completed. All I had to do was to buy some paint to finish it off. I am very gratefull to all of them, it would have cost me several thousands dollars to have it build otherwise.
I plan to start the run on the 30th of January 2011 and will be the same route as this year on my push scooter. I expect to complete the 1,350 kms in about a month, the exact timetable will be worked out after I find out how far I could expect to get each day, considering the fact, that I have to organise my food during the day and set up a camp each night. I will also try to spend enough time in towns fundraising, so it might take even more than a month.
As always, every cent donated goes to CanTeen. I will pay all my expenses from own pockets, since I have no sponsor this time, apart from those, who donated time and material to making and shipping the rickshaw
As always, I have an everydayhero page set up for donations.
For those, who do not like using credit card for donations, it is posible to send cheque, written to CanTeen and addressed to 10 Amanda Court, Burnie, Tasmania 7320.
I have already started raising money during my training runs and at three fundraisers at Centro Burnie - the sites donated by the management as every time before when I was fundraising there.
Rickshaw Around Tasmania Itinerary
Date From To
30. 01. 2011 Burnie Roadside
31. 01. Roadside Stanley
01. 02. Stanley Smithton
02. 02. Smithton Roadside
03. 02. Roadside Arthur River
04. 02. Arthur River Roadside
05. 02. Roadside Roadside
06. 02. Roadside Roadside
07. 02. Roadside Zeehan
08. 02. Zeehan Queenstown
09. 02. Queenstown Roadside
10. 02. Roadside Derwent Bridge
11. 02. Derwent Bridge Tarraleah
12. 02. Tarraleah Roadside
13. 02. Roadside Roadside
14. 02. Roadside Hamilton
15. 02. Hamilton New Norfolk
16. 02. New Norfolk Hobart
17. 02. Hobart Sorell
18. 02. Sorell Buckland
19. 02. Buckland Triabunna
20. 02. Triabunna Swansea
21. 02. Swansea Bicheno
22. 02. Bicheno Roadside
23. 02. Roadside St Helens
24. 02. St Helens Weldborough
25. 02. Weldborough Roadside
26. 02. Roadside Roadside
27. 02. Roadside Launceston
28. 02. Launceston Carrick
01. 02. Carrick Roadside
02. 03. Roadside Roadside
03. 03. Roadside Burnie
Ready to go.
It is getting very close. Next Sunday, 30th January, I will start my next fundraiser for CanTeen “Rickshaw Around Tasmania.”
I will leave Burnie from the front of the Burnie City Council at 9 am. Since it is Sunday, I have not asked anyone to officiate it, but would appreciate and welcome anyone, who would like to turn up to wish me good luck.
I think I will need some luck, firstly because I will be on my own, which will be a new challenge, and secondly with the weather, with active La Nina causing a lot of rains all over Australia. Rain would make it very difficult to run in it with the rickshaw without any protection and even worse to find a camping spot somewhere on the roadside, pitch the tent and having nowhere to dry my wet gear. I cannot carry too many spare clothes, so it will be back to my bushwalking days: pitch the tent, get inside, change into dry clothes and in the morning pack the dry clothes in a plastic bag, put the wet gear on and get going again. It is not the most pleasant feeling for a while, but after warming up, it will be OK. If it does not rain, it will dry on me, if it rains, it will stay wet and in the evening I will repeat the same process as the previous night. After all, luckily I am not made of sugar, so will not dissolve in the rain. My skin is waterproof!
I decided to leave on Sunday to arrive in Smithton on Tuesday to attend the meeting of the Rotary Club. I was a member there in the past and still have very happy memories of my time spent there, and many very good friends.
It is not going to be easy to get donations in the light of the floods, which are rightfully taking away attention from all other good causes, but I hope, that many Tasmanians will take notice of my special effort to draw attention to the needs of young Australians living with cancer. Their suffering never makes headlines, but it is real. They deserve as much support as any other Australians, their suffering is not self inflicted, they are just out of luck.
The days with rickshaw.
I must admit a lot of anxiety before the start, especially since the weather forecast looked so bad. It is also my first fundraiser without any support and I started to ask myself, if I am REALY crazy. So I had to remind myself, why I do what I do.
Yes, we have six grandchildren, one great grand son and two more on the way. They are all healthy, so we are very lucky. A good reason to help those not as lucky.
Yes, I enjoy a challenge and like to give more purpose than just enjoying myself.
And yes, I get so much encouragement from people all around Tasmania, that makes it even more worth.
Three friends turned up to see me off, all fellow runners, Jamie Brewtnall and Keith Price, who have always supported me over the years, and the third one was absolute surprise - David Bresford. He lives in Legana, two hours drive from Burnie, yet it was not much trouble for him to make the trip to see me off and wish me good luck. First time I met Davo was in 2006, during my run to Cape York. He learn about my run on a runners website and when I attended a function in Brisbane, he was there with his wife. He lived then about 25 km north of Brisbane, ran with me to his home, where we stayed overnight. He even organised a lovely barbecue inviting several of his friends. I was very pleased when he advised me, that he was moving to Tasmania. Davo is one of those people, we could do with more in Tasmania. No need to add, they all made a large donations to CanTeen.
I left about 9.15, I was not keen to leave such good friends behind.
I arrived at Wynyard around midday, met by another couple of good running friends, Christine and David Wright. A little time in front of Woolworths proved to be very productive, though being Sunday, there were not many people around, but thanks to the Advocate, which printed a story about my run, everyone seemed to know what was going on. A week before that we were featured on The Random Acts of Kindness on WIN TV and lots of people referred to it as well.
In spite of forecast for rain on Sunday, we got exactly the opposite. The hottest day this summer - 30 degrees. Might not sound much for our friends on the mainland, but for us Taswegians, it is bloody hot! The heat is much hotter than over there.
I have run in higher temperatures, but without rickshaw! Combined with a strong head wind and big hills, it was a real test for me. The first day is always the hardest, no matter how prepared one is. Around 2 pm I decided to find a bit of shade for a short rest. That proved to be a problem for my son Vlastik, who decided to jump on his motorbike bring some lovely cold drink, realizing, that I was probably suffering from the heat and no cold drink. Some time after I got a call from him on my mobile, asking me, where I was. Shortly after he arrived, bringing with him a large, icy cold bottle of nice drink. It was fantastic and helped a lot to re hydrate me. Meanwhile he told me his story. He went for a drive to catch up with me, but missed me just as I was resting in a shade. Surprised how big progress I was making, he rode all the way to Stanley before deciding to give me a call to find out where I was. I was only near the turn off to Boat Harbour, a long way from Stanley!
Later in the afternoon Jo arrived with our campervan. She wanted to give me the chance to have a comfortable first night. So I was spoiled, did not have to worry about pitching my tent and organising my dinner. Just before I started climbing the Sisters Hills, a man with his daughter waited for me, to offer me water melon and chilled water. They were driving home and after seeing me on the road, they decided to offer the goodies and also asked, if I needed a bed for the night, they would be happy to accommodate me. This is the sort of people and the sort of assistance, one gets while doing something for a good cause. How can I stop doing these things?
I told Jo to find a camping spot once we are past the hills, but there was nothing until a car park for Community Church Hall not far from Rocky Cape. It was exactly 50 km from Burnie and I had enough by then, having spent over 11 hours on the road. Jo had cooked nice dinner, it was my first meal since breakfast. I only drank and drank all day.
It was a comfortable night, but far from peaceful. I would never believe how many trucks and cars kept driving all night. We hardly got any sleep at all. At 6.20 am I got a call from radio ABC and next one at 7.50 from 7BU. I do not think, that talk was great, my brain was still half asleep. But it worked, people made donations saying, that they heard me on the radio.
I had only 33 km left to Stanley, so did not rush. At 9.15 I started my push and Jo returned home. From now on, I am on my own. Temperature dropped considerably and before arriving at Stanley, it started to rain. I intended to camp near the Nut to save on camping fees, but while passing the Caravan Park, a lady ran out from the office with donation, explaining, that when she was passing me on Sisters Hill yesterday, she could not stop, so she was looking out for me to make a donation. And she offered a free site for my tent in a very sheltered spot as well. So I had the luxury of a shower as well. Some marvellous people live in Tasmania. I appreciated even more the sheltered spot, since all night there was a gale force wind, but my tent got hardly shaken by it. And as soon as I got somehow used to sleeping on the hard ground, I fell asleep and never woke up till morning.
The wind stopped and I started my day at 9.30. Plenty of time, only about 22 km to Smithton. It was a beautiful day, no hills, pure joy. I was amazed, that this time of the year everything is so green, even the hills around Stanley. And we were told, that we will never have the rains as before because of global warming. But of course, it is the Climate change now, as if it is something that never happened before (just to stir the pot a bit!) During the day a had an interview on West Coast Radio from Queenstown and a journalist from circular Head Chronicle caught up with me before Smithton to take some pictures and did an interview. The help from the media is invaluable, people stop and donate.
The weather started to warm up and it was very hot by the time I reached Smithton. But then, in no time, clouds appeared on the horizon, strong wind followed and that spoiled my fundraising effort in the town, which became practically deserted. But I am now sitting comfortably at the back room of Kings Brothers Furniture store in absolute comfort, catching up with emails and thinking how lucky I am to have so many good friends and supporters. Tonight I am attending the Rotary meeting, of which I was a member in the past, and then another comfortable night in Judy and Ian King's home. I am so grateful to all who help me in any way. it again reminds me, when John Flynn planed to start the Flying Doctors, everyone else thought it was impossible and tried to talk him out of it. His response was something like this:" Don't worry, I believe, that if you set out to help people, they will come around to help you".
And I must say, that apart from trying to help those unlucky young Australians, it is the acts of kindness I have been experience, that provide fuel for me to keep going.
Tomorrow I am heading towards Arthur River and Western Explorer, it is possible, that you will not hear from me for a while. I will also be slow posting it all on my googlepages including uploading photos. It is all too hard being on my own.
I enjoyed very much meeting my friends at the Rotary meeting, the greatest joy was to see good friend Rex walking in, looking well and fit. When I attended the last meeting in Smithton about 18 months ago, the bad news just broke out, that Rex had a bad accident and it did not look promising. Since then, he had been to hell and back and I was too scarred to ask how he was, expecting bad news. They call him now "A Miracle Man!"
The night spent at Ian and Judy King's home was the most restful so far. I think I never slept in a more comfortable bed, but than, what would you expect in the home of the owners of the best quality furniture store. I would listen to their advise what furniture to buy anytime.
In the morning Ian drove me to the Tall Timbers Hotel to pick up my rickshaw, where it was left after the meeting and I was on the way. Weather was ideal, cool, wind from behind. Not many hills to start with, I was making a good progress. About 12 km past Smithton there was a young lady outside her house, interested in what I was doing. She offered me a chilled piece of watermelon, which was most welcome. But what came next really shocked me. Her four year old girl was given only two months to live. She would need a heart transplant and they just could not afford to pay $175,000 for the operation and $15,000 a day for intensive care. They have accepted their fate and trying to enjoy the last days with her. And they even donated to my cause. I still feel se inadequate, unable to do anything. I wish I would win a million and could help. But it is not going to happen. I cannot even imagine to be in such a situation. I took a picture of the girl with my rickshaw but unable to think clearly, I did not even get their address to send it to them. I did not even ask if she had any wish and if they contacted the Make A Wish Foundation about it. Seeing situations like this, I feel I will have to do something for that organisation as well.
The weather was reasonable all day, only a very small and short drizzle. I heard, that at Stanley was pouring all day. Am I going to be lucky again with the weather as always? Time will tell. At this moment I feel that someone up there is looking after me.
After almost 50 km I arrived at Marrawah. The advise I got from friends at Rotary was to stop at Marrawah Hotel. They said they are good people there and they will help. It is about 2 km out of way, normally I would keep heading towards Arthur River and camp on the roadside. How glad I was to listen to the advice. I was rehearsing what to say to the manager when Brett Good walked out of the Tavern with "hello Vlastik." When I asked him what he was doing there, he introduced himself as the manager! For you to understand, when we had a small Corner Store in Burnie, ran by Jo with my help, Breet, young boy then, lived across the road from us, visiting our shop every day. When I asked about a spot for my tent, he immediately offered a room in his residence and before I could settle down at the bar, I was served a huge plate with two large pieces of battered flake, chips, salad and tartar sauce. Serve like that would normally do for both Jo and myself. And I was told, that it is their normal size. The flake was the best I have ever had, this is true. Freshly caught by the father of his wife, a fisherman, sliced into a very thick pieces, it was so tasty, so juicy, I think I will be dreaming about it all the way on the Western Explorer, munching on my food from tins. The locals were so generous, I received a lot of donations and had turn down many offers to buy a beer for me. I accepted only one and that was enough.
And to complete a very enjoyable evening, I had the chance to see our cricketers beat England, in spite of chasing 330. Just unbelievable!
After a comfortable night I left for a short walk, only a bit over a very hilly 14 km, arriving at the Arthur River Cabin Park at 11.30. Helen was outside waving at me and offering to pick up any spot I like. Her suggestion to look at the sheltered place near the Camp Kitchen was spot on. Nice grassy spot and a large container next to it, where I will be able to pull my rickshaw in to have it under cover. I have now plenty of time to get organised for The Western Explorer. The days of great support and comfortable nights will be over. From tomorrow on it will be a struggle. Over 100 km of unsealed road, steep hills and lack of good camping spots. Some of the hills I claimed today proved to be a big challenge, I can only hope, that I will be able to pull the rickshaw up the steep, unsealed hills. I have to make it to Zeehan in four days and then next day to Queenstown, where Marg Steele is kindly organising some fundraiser. It will be most welcome, I do not expect many donations over next five days. In the last five I have already collected over $900, which brings the total so far to over $3,000. I am hoping to find the same generosity during the rest of the fundraiser, as I found on the North West.
So far, everything is OK. The sunburns from the first day after taking off my T shirt are getting better. Some people never learn, not even after more than seventy years. You can call me silly old bugger. The only other concern is my lips, in spite of applying sun screen on. I will have to do it more often.
The WESTERN EXPLORER.
The weather forecast was for fine day, rain tomorrow. I started early, determined to get as far as I could, to have some chance of making it the next day to Corrina, seemingly impossible task. In a good weather, I was making a good progress, but only luck avoided a disaster. A tourist heading towards me stopped to make a donation, and short while after he returned with my tent, which fell of the back of the rickshaw. I was very lucky that it was not found some less kind person. I thought I had it secure on the back of the rickshaw, but the rough road managed to shake it off. Another (almost) hard lesson learnt.
There was not much traffic, but many drivers stopped and made good donations, all over $10, obviously appreciating my extra effort to raise donations and awareness of Canteen. I was working very hard, trying to get as far as possible today. It is forecast for rain tomorrow and want to get as far as possible to have even a slight chance to make it to Corrina the next day. Only once I stopped for a quick snack on a tin of chicken meat and dry biscuits and every now and then for a quick drink of water.
At 4 pm I discovered that I had a reception on mobile so I called Jo. At that time, there was no more traffic and after the call I started to feel very lonely and sad. The tears were not far away, I had to gather all my strength to overcome these emotions and not to call Jo to come to pick me up and take me home. But fortunately these emotions disappeared with the next hill and I had something else to focus on - survival.
The steep hills continued and the real test of my stamina started. I was sometimes struggling to make it to the top. It was either up or down, nothing else. After 11 hours I found the first suitable spot for a tent at the Lindsay River, but there were still 57 km to Corrina, so kept going. And here comes the steepest the hills, I remember from my previous runs. Some are so steep, that they have bitumen on the steepest parts, because on gravel normal cars would not make it up without slipping on the gravel. I have to admit, that this was a fight for survival. I was pulling the rickshaw centimetre by centimetre, wondering sometimes, if I make it at all. I could imagine what would happen, if I lost footing and the rickshaw dragged me back. It might sound too dramatic, but I was fighting for survival. I did not seem to be making any progress when looking how much further it was to the top. It was not much encouraging. So I stopped looking ahead and started to count steps and only then looked ahead to see how far I progressed. At first I counted to 25, but when looked ahead, there was no noticeable progress. So I started counting to a hundred. That was little better, but I had to keep repeating it many times, before I was there. And this went on all day.
Finally it was time to find a site for my tent to spend the night, but there was nothing suitable . It was already after 8 pm and I was getting really worried. Finally, after 13 hours of almost non stop pulling the rickshaw, I found enough space on the side of the road, very rough, but big enough for the tent. It was the same spot, where we spend a night during my run with Debbie De Williams four years ago. Debbie is currently running around Australia as the first woman ever and for her fundraising for breast cancer she was named Tasmanian of the Year. When I pitched my tent, covered the rickshaw with tarp and had all organised for the night, I had enough. I could not even be bothered to warm up some food. I just opened a tin of soup and ate it straight from the tin. And finished it off with a drink of water. I was still very proud of myself, having completed for the day 62.2 km on such a challenging terrain. I said before that I was going solo to really challenge myself. That is one thing I definitely achieved.
I did not get much sleep, it was not comfortable and I was again could. But still I had enough rest and was ready to continue in the morning. I left an hour later than previous day. It took me longer to get up and pack it all, my brain was not working efficiently at that stage. But soon, the hills woke me up and I was moving as fast as I could. In a couple of hours the promised rain arrived. The hills were even more frequent and steeper than the previous day, but I knew, that I was in a striking distance of Corrina and would make it there, even if it was after dark. There was a roof waiting for me and my rickshaw!
Again one stop only at the Donaldson River, this time only peanut butter with biscuits. The rain got very heavy at that time and I remembered my umbrella on the rickshaw. That was a saviour, I had the luxury of being able to eat it under a cover. Enormously long hill followed from that spot and at the top of it, I found a signal again and was able to talk to Jo. The umbrella saved me again, as soon as I started talking to her another heavy shower arrived. And almost every time, I was struggling up another hill, the rain got worse. During my so many fundraisers I was blessed with reasonable weather, though I did not need it as much, since the campervan could come to rescue. I was always thinking, that someone has been looking after me for being a good boy. So what happened now, since I need that bit of protection from above more than ever before? But better not to think about it.
After 12 hours and 48.5 km of hard yakka, I finally reached Corrina. In the shelter I found a group of Queenslanders, who passed me on the road during the afternoon. They were surprised to see me arriving, not expecting that I could cover such a distance in such a (relatively) short time. It was a very friendly bunch from Mitsubishi Four wheel Club in Brisbane. They had nice fire going, it was simply marvellous. They even offered me a heap of pasta with tuna, which I could not refuse. They were very interested in what I was doing and make some good donations. The rain never stopped all night, but I managed to pitch my tent under the shelter, so all was lovely. The management was very helpful too, let me stay free of charge and even made a good donation and before leaving gave me a couple of muffins and a "Corrina" drinking bottle, plus free trip across the Pieman River. I was ready to depart, but had to wait for the weather to settle down a bit. I was not in a panic, only 48 km left to Zeehan, most of it on a bitumen road. Just before 10 am it was nice and sunny, but as soon as I got on the ferry, suddenly a hail storm hit with thundering and all. I had only enough time to cover my Teddy and other stuff on the rickshaw and hopped into the cabin with the driver. We had to wait for a while, but eventually I was on the road again. There were still few steep hills and gravel road waiting for me, lots of showers, but finally I was on a bitumen. It seemed to be so easy now, even the hills were much easier to claim. I do not normally brag, but I think, that if was something very special to manage to pull the rickshaw, probably 60 kg, through the Western Explorer at all, especially in such a short time. I expected to take three days, but done it in two, well over 100 hilly km on gravel roads. But would I do it again? Unsupported? I think I can even now give a definitive answer. NO WAY! I needed every bit of luck and strength I have to make it at all, and if my fitness dropped a bit or anything else went wrong, I would not make it. To take the chance once is enough for me.
Relatively easy going for the rest of the day, but still many showers, I was looking to get to Zeehan to get under the roof of the shed behind the Cecil Hotel. I was a day ahead of the schedule and was going to spend whole day in Zeehan, to get back on schedule, for arrival to Queenstown for a planned fundraiser, organised by Marg Steele. But it was after 8 pm, before finally arriving at Zeehan, only to find everything closed. The owners of the Hotel did not know, that I was coming a day earlier, but I still pitch my tent under the roof of the shed, grateful for being out of the rain. I was sure that they would not mind. In the morning I learnt, that it was Sunday yesterday and all Hotels here close early. But I was under a roof, which was most welcome, though the night was again very cold. Where is the summer?
When a lady arrived to open the Hotel, she told me, that Ian is in hospital and Suzanne would be here in the afternoon. But Wendy was kind enough to let me sit in the lounge room to do this work and use the power point. Charging batteries in my phone and laptop is going to be a major problem. I am still facing a lot of days without mobile reception and on the top of it flat batteries without opportunities to charge them. Who sad that "Life wasn't meant to be easy?" He was right! But now, I have today to catch up, have a rest and get ready for more wet, cold weather, as it is right now.
But first back to Zeehan. Afternoon, the Manager Suzanne turned up. She is having a hard time with Ian in a hospital and she has to do all by herself. I hope that Ian will get well soon. Evening was very cold and I was not looking forward to another cold night in the tent. But Suzanne solved it for me by offering a room in the hotel without me asking for it. How kind of her. Nice hot shower and comfortable, warm bed - I think, that people who never experienced shivering all night on a hard ground in a tent cannot really appreciate the comfort of a warm bed. Even for this reason it is good to rough it out sometimes.
Few shower after departure from Zeehan did not spoil my looking forward to Queensland. I knew, that Margaret Steele was organising something, but what was waiting for me exceeded all expectations. Margaret, whom I never met before, is such a wonderful person, I wish there was another Margaret like her to organise something like this in every town on the way. She already met me about 7 km from Queenstown to check out if everything is OK. Upon my arrival, spot on 3.30 pm as planned, there was a group of people waiting for me at the Queenstown Railway Station. There was a funeral of a very respected person of Queenstown that day, so they apologized for not having more people greeting me there! In fact it was a good crowd, I could not dream of anything better. Apart from some others there was Joanne Francis, President of the Rotary Club, Noel Appleby from the Lyons Club, Geraldine Halton representing Leukaemia Foundation, Joy Sheppel, who not only offered and did wash my gear, but donated $100 as well, Shane Pitt, Geoff Steele and others, all making good donation as well as joining me for a cup of coffee and scorns. I have not had coffee for few days, so I really enjoyed it. Margaret accompanied me after through the town for more fundraising and to the Supermarket to buy some groceries for the next few days. I was embarrassed a bit, since I was not allowed to pay for it, I do not know who is footing the bill. Next stop was in the Empire Hotel, beautiful historical place full of character, where the Manager Rachael Brown offered a free room with en suite, including dinner and breakfast. Meanwhile I was already invited to attend dinner at the meeting of the Rotary Club, with the opportunity to talk about my fundraisers, where I was presented with a $100 cheque and then attended Lyons Club meeting to be presented with another $100 cheque. I was even given $100 with strict instruction, that it was for me to help cover my cost. It was most appreciated as well as very embarrassing. I had to promise to keep it for myself. I had to say it here, I do appreciate very much the thought, and reluctantly, I guess, have to respect the wishes of the donor. This is a big dilemma for me. The whole time since my arrival at Queenstown was out of this world. I am sure, that you cannot find such a great and generous community anywhere in the world. THANK YOU QUEENSTOWN!
I would love to continue singing prize about Queenstown, unfortunately it is getting later and I have to get some sleep.
In the morning, I am going to The West Coast Radio at 8.30 in the morning, before departing to the very remote parts of Tasmania again. I am likely to be out of reception for several days, at least till I get to Hamilton. I hope to have an update then. There is a hope for a good weather for next few days, hopefully at least till I get to Tarraleah Caravan Park, unfortunately, there is still no reception on mobile.
So far, everything is going well. There are many I have to thank for the smooth ride so far. All those who helped to build the rickshaw, especially Human Powered Vehicles, Toll Shipping, Timberland, Rudi Winkler and Burnie Engineering Service.
My special thanks go to ASICS, who have been supporting me for many years from the very first fundraiser and once again supplied running gear, including two pairs of Asics Nimbus, the best shoes money can buy, for this one. You can take it from me, I have run thousands and thousands of kilometres in them, in all sorts of terrain, including Simpson Desert, without any problems or blisters.
The first day out of Queenstown started very well. Margaret came with me to the interview with Darren on West Coast radio and brought with her a bag with sandwiches for my first day. I thought, that only a mum could look after her little Johnny the same way Margaret looked after me. It was one act of kindness after another one. The sandwiches were the best I have ever had, I had to take of photo of them. It was a work of art. They fuelled me for the whole day.
The hill from Queenstown to Gormanston is infamous for its steepness and length. It did nor scare me, but I was still surprised, when the 5 kilometres of it took me only one hour and five minutes. After the long downhill there is a lot of flat country, which made the going very easy. Just after midday I got a pleasant surprise, when a tourist bus pulled up and I could see my friend Bruce stepping out. He is from Burnie, we have done some bushwalking together and during the tourist season he drives this bus. in fact I met him last year in the same area during my push scooter ride around Tassie. Apart from a donation he had for me a special present, a bag of delicious cherries. I ate few of them and left the rest for Ron - later on!
Shortly after I saw a cyclist approaching with a Swiss flag on the front. He stopped, I shared the cherries with him and few stories about our trips and on we went. It is always nice to meet people, who have the same crazy ideas, hard to understand by the majority of people.
After walking for 11 hours already, I was happy to see on right Frenchman Cap and knew, that I was not far away from the walking track to the Cap and the car park, where I was going to spend the night. When I got there, I was horrified to realize, that the car park has been re designed and there was absolutely nowhere to pitch my tent. It was all very rough gravel a only rough bush around. The floor inside the small shelter was just as bad, too small for my tent, but it was the only feasible spot. I could only half erected my tent and tie it to the sides of the shelter, but it was still better than nothing. When I crawled inside, at least 30 mosquitoes managed to sneak in with me. I spent next at least twenty minutes killing them, otherwise they would have eaten me alive. When I finished and turned off the light, the horrible bzzzz started again. So back to the hunt. I got him, and after that, all was quiet. Bur far from a peaceful night. The rocks where pushing into my ribs no matter which way I turned, and it got very cold - again! I was thinking all night why I did not listen to Jo, when I had to leave home my sleeping bag, because it would not fit into the rickshaw, taking only a thin blanket instead, hoping for warm nights. She urged me to buy one of the small sleeping bags and a self inflatable mattress, none of them taking too much space. I did not want to spend money on what I thought was unnecessary luxury. But then again, I am still surviving, so what. A bit of suffering is good for the soul!
Another silly thing I did was not to take a map with me. I know all, I do need a map! How stupid that was. I knew, that there was a much better place to camp at the Franklin River, but was not sure how far it was and since it was only half hour of daylight left, I decided to stay there. In the morning, only about three kilometres further was the Franklin River. If I had the map, I would have known. Serve me right, thinking I know everything!
But I was on the way, survived the unpleasant night, but this was another day and I did not care about it any more.
Weather was pleasant when I started the claim to Mt. Arrowsmith. I remember it from my previous actions, but with the rickshaw, it makes it a different story. When I saw a sign on the roadside Mt Arrowsmith I assumed, that it must be close to the summit. Every time, there was a bend, I expected tho road to start the downhill. But it was always up instead of down. I remembered Margaret mentioning the mountain as a big challenge and I realized how right she was. I almost never complain about working hard to get on the top of any hill, but this was getting ridiculous. Seemingly no end to it. But finally, after full two hours of non stop struggle, I reached the summit. As I was just about to start feeling happy, it started to rain! Did it really had to spoil the happiness? Fortunately it stopped soon and for the rest of the day it started and stopped again, not a big deal.
Much happier moments were waiting for me that day. When I was about 12 kilometres fro Derwent Bridge, a car approached, did a U turn and to my great surprise the same Davo, who made the long trip from Legana to see me off at the start in Burnie, came out of the car. I could not imagine anyone else making such a long trip to give me some encouragement and bring so many goodies, including donuts, chocolate bars, apples, bananas, can of Solo, and even, while sitting and talking in his car, he offered a can of beer. I really enjoyed the half an hour or so spent with Davo. I am very fortunate to have friends like that. Not long after that, Bruce appeared again with his tourist bus and handed to me another bag of cherries. I was being spoiled.
There were few showers regularly during the day, but as I reached Derwent Bridge to stop to buy a meat pie, I have been longing for during the last few days, with the rickshaw safely under the roof, the heavy rain arrived. So I still cannot really complain about the weather. It could have been better, but also much, much worse. Another bonus was a signal on my mobile, giving me the chance to call Jo and Shae from CanTeen to talk about my plans for the next few days.
It was getting dark and I was desperately looking for a place to camp, especially since it was obvious, that more rain was on the way. An old house with many open sheds attracted my attention and I decided to ask, if I could put the rickshaw inside one of the sheds and pitch my tent somewhere. A lady came out and said, that she would like to help, but that there is a vicious dog so she could not let me stay. Perhaps she did not feel comfortable about, because I never saw nor heard any dog. But she gave the good news, that about three kilometres down the river is a shelter. I knew that area and could not remember any shed there, but still with some encouragement pushed on. There is a steep hill down to the river and I could see from a distance, that there was no shelter, but hoped to find a site for my tent. It was not to be, and I kept pulling the rickshaw up the step hill, thinking, that she had every right not to let me stay, but that there was no need to add to it that story about the shelter. It looked a bit hopeless, but when a car stopped and out came three young Americans and a Canadian, interested in what I was doing and offering donations and taking photos, it cheered me up a bit. At that moment I was determined to keep walking no matter how long it takes, before I find something. Soon I passed the turnoff to Bronte Park, when I remember, that there was a shelter near a lake, but I was not sure how far it was. Then occurred to me, that maybe, she might have meant that shelter and such a case, it should not be too far. And just before it got dark completely, the shelter appeared on the bank of Bronte Lagoon. I cannot explain the happiness I felt. In spite of sometimes winging about the weather, I have been extremely lucky. It has so far always turned for the better. With the rickshaw under the roof, I pitched my tent next to it on nice soft grass. Suddenly I saw a light nor far from and discovered, that a lady was camped nearby, but there was difficult terrain between us so she called out and invited me to come in the morning for a cup of coffee. This night I slept for the first time in the tent in comfort. The ground was soft and the rain overnight kept the temperature higher and I did feel as cold as always before. This was the end of a very happy day, having covered over 57 kilometres.
In the morning I went around for the promised coffee. It was a young lady from Yukon in Canada, cycling around Tasmania. I could understand why she offered the coffee. She was obviously a great coffee connoisseur, she had a miniature equipment to make percolated coffee, even cappuccino. After enjoying the taste of real coffee a chat about our travels, I departed at about 9 am. I was not in a hurry, I knew I was not going to make it all the way to Hamilton about 70 km away, and would have to camp somewhere reasonably close to it. But as so many times before, the darkness was not far away and no camping spot available, the surrounding bush was actually all fenced off. I started to get used to the idea, that after all I might have to keep going till I get to Hamilton, in my estimate still about 20 km away. But once again my good luck did not desert me. Suddenly a junction appeared with a road to Lake Echo, opening the way to the bush. It did not take long to find a good spot, the rickshaw safely tacked under a thick bush, protected from rain, and a soft ground next to it for my tent. The sign pointing to Hamilton showed it was still 22 km. I was very relieved, that I did not have to keep walking another 4 hours till midnight. It rained overnight as expected, but it stopped before I had to get up and keep going.
With only 22 km to go, nice fine, but cool morning, it was a picnic, till I arrived at the camping ground at Hamilton, with all the needed facilities, including toilet, shower, though hot water did not work, but still better than nothing, and most importantly with a covered BBQ area with a power point. Weather got nice and warm, I could spread out all my damp gear and get it all dry, first time in a long time.
I organised my camp, got out my laptop and started to write. I am now two days ahead of schedule. I added one day extra to the original schedule between Queenstown and Hamilton, just in the case I was slower than expected, but instead I did it one day faster then expected. I just wanted to get out from the middle of nowhere and Hamilton was the place to be. I can now spend whole day in here and catch up with all administration. On Monday, 14th February I will arrive at New Norfolk, where I am to meet some people associated with Canteen and who are kindly offering to spend the night with them, and on Tuesday, one day ahead of schedule I will arrive in Hobart, giving me an extra day for fundraising in Hobart. I have been offered a free room at the Mercure Hotel, on Wednesday I hope to meet some Czech friends in the Polish Club at 4 pm and then spend the night in my friends place, before departing for the East Coast.
As soon as I started to compose this story, a man sat next to me, having a very impressive T-bone steak with salads, Just to say something I said that it looked and smelled very nice, he said he was sorry, but did not speak English, but some of his three companions could. I asked him where he was from, he answered that he was from Czech Republic. To his shock, I told him in Czech, that it's OK, we can talk in Czech. That was the end of my work, we all spent the evening talking about theirs and my travels, but I did not care, because I knew I had all day to catch up. Well, another very interesting day.
The night was very cold due to the clear sky, but when the sun came out, it warmed up very quickly. What definitely contributed to my warm feeling was the 4 km hill, which starts immediately after the end of town. It took me 50 minutes to get to the top, but not a great problem. Those fully loaded trucks, which passed me on the hill seemed to be working in a low gear harder than I was. The trip to New Norfolk was basically uneventful. What I noticed though were ripening blackberries around the road. Looks like I will have supply for the rest of this fundraiser of fresh berries.
Upon arrival at New Norfolk I soon realized, that there was no point to stay in the main street for fundraising. It is Monday, but public holiday, most shops closed and most people seemed to disappear to cool themselves in the Derwent River. It was very hot.
Around 4 pm as planned, the whole family of Nossiters, who kindly invited me to stay with them overnight. What a lovely, friendly family. Craig cooked the best steak I can remember, Tamika prepared the salads, pasta, coleslaw, I really appreciated such a lovely dinner, especially since I had not have a decent meal since Queenstown, and that was six days ago. Add up to it a nice hot shower and comfortable bed, what more could I wish for. I am being spoiled. I must add though again, that having so much support from people I had never met before, provides the fuel and inspiration for continuation of the journey.
After a very good sleep I was on the road again. Warm day again, it was a routine run without much happening, until I met with Shae. She has been very helpful, met me upon arrival to Hobart and informed me about the plan for the next couple of days, while in Hobart. Shae organised a free room for me including dinner at the Mercure Hotel. Their support is much appreciated too. It is a very nice hotel, one of the better in Hobart.
On the way I dropped at the Channel 9 to see if we could get some footage during the stay in Hobart. It would help a lot with the donation, people see it and know what it is all about and the donations increase considerably. We will have to wait to see, if their journalists find some spare time tomorrow. The next was a photographer from The Mercury and a call from Helen from the Burnie office of The Mercury. That certainly will help too. Tomorrow we will be fundraising from 9.30 till 2 pm and then it is to the Polish Club at 4 pm. I hope we will raise few more dollars tomorrow.
The fundraiser next day at the Wellington Walk and later at the end of Elizabeth Mall was enjoyable, with perfect weather and many CanTeen members taking part. The amount of $334 was not overwhelming, but the promotion of CanTeen cannot be underestimated and hard to put a price on. Shae is very enthusiastic about helping the young Australians living with cancer and obviously likes her job. She is a good asset for CanTeen. It was nice to meet her two lovely boys - twins.
One event during the fundraiser took me by a big surprise. The Police Commissioner, I only know from TV, walked past, put some money in the tin, turned to me and said: “You are Vlastik!” I was not sure, if it was a good or bad thing!
After the fundraiser I went to the Polish Club to meet some friends, and 6.30 pm I departed to Howrah, hoping to find my friends place before dark. On the way I was surprised, how many people offered substantial donations, like $20, referring to the article from The Mercury. Thank you Mercury! I have no doubt, that when I get to their territories, The Examiner and The Advocate will do the same to create interest and opportunity for lots of donations.
When I got to the Tasman Bridge, I decided to walk on the road, because I remember from my scooter ride, that the footpath had some obstruction and I did not think, that the rickshaw would get through. It was a big mistake! When I was about half way the upward section, I heard voice behind me and to my horror it was a Police Officer. The first thing he said was the information, that there is a fine of $400 for walking on the bridge! I explained to him the reason why I chose the road, apologized about ten times a told him how model citizen I was, never fined in my over forty years for any offence (true), for a while I could see that he was thinking what to do with me, eventually he suggested to try to lift the rickshaw over rail to the footpath, but very quickly realized, that we would need a Goliath or two, so the only option was to continue across the bridge. I told him I would do my best to be out of the bridge as quickly as possible to stop being a nuisance and to show him that I meant it, I stared sprinting up the hill really fast and even faster on the way down, giving it all I had. He instructed me to stop after clearing the bridge on the side of the road for a talk about what next. When I stopped and he approached me, I told him, that I hoped, that I did not break the speed limit and do not get another fine. He smiled and I knew, I will be able to spend my $400 on something better. I am sure, that he was concerned about my safety on the part of the highway past the bridge, so he instructed me to take a detour through the suburbs. It was very hilly and I lost perhaps 30 minutes, vital for me to find my friends place before dark. But there was a happy moment, when I was pulling the rickshaw up a very steep hiil. On the top of it I noticed a family group, waiting for me, making donation and offering me a glass of water, banana an apple and a chocolate bar. How kind of them.
Walking through Howrah, several people stop and made donation, one gentleman, after giving me $20 even asked, where I was going to sleep, obviously willing to offer me an accommodation. It was already getting dark and, the road signs with the names of the streets were hard to find. Finally I arrived in friends place well after dark at 9.30 pm.
But the reward was great, Magda cooked for me very tasty Czech meal, and we chatted till 11.30 pm, before retiring for the third time in a row into a warm and comfortable bed.
In the morning I did not leave till 11 am, enjoying their company too much.
Just as I was getting to Sorell, it started to rain. Suddenly I found the rickshaw hard to pull and very quickly discovered the reason. It was a puncture on my right wheel! I did not feel happy to try to fix it in the rain so kept pulling it to the first garage at a petrol station. Thankfully he allowed me to fix it inside, out of the rain and wind. I have a spare tube, but decided to patch this one, while there is water to find where the leak is. It was only a tiny prick from a very thin piece of wire, I found inside the tyre when running fingers inside to make sure, that it will not prick it again.
The weather was getting from bad to worse. But another heart warming act of kindness waited for me on one of the long, steep hills. A lady stopped in front of me and kept saying, that she was astonished to see someone raising donation in such a hard way. She put $10 into the tin, but about half an hour late, when the weather was getting really nasty, she again stopped in front of me, got out of the car the her two little daughters, who handed me a large block of chocolate and another $20. What can I say!
It warmed my heart a lot, but the very cold wind on the top of the hills, blowing directly from Antarctica for sure, with the driving rain, was becoming a real concern. I could not put on anything warm, I have to keep it dry. Not much of daylight was left and I was getting really worried. There was nowhere to pitch my tent. Walking through Runnymede, I saw many sheds around the few houses there, but was reluctant to ask if I could stay there over night, but when I came to the last one I knew, that going further in such freezing and wet condition, could become a real problem for me. After knocking on the door, a lady came out and very quickly offered me to take the rickshaw to any of the sheds I want and to come back for a cup o hot drink. An offer too good to refuse. Apart from the cup of coffee she made for me toasted sandwiches with ham, cheese and tomato.
A potential disaster turned into an enjoyable evening and camping under a roof and out of wind. I was not warm in the tent, but safe.
The next day was much better weather, cool, overcast, ideal for walking. I was still getting donations with reference to the Mercury article. After 56 km I found a spot for my tent in the bush about 10 km past Triabunna. Jo told me on phone, that the forecast for the next day was not very good. My hopes, that they might be wrong disappeared during the night, when I was woken by the noise of the wind and rain falling on the tent. I got up at 6.15 am, mixed some milk powder with cold water and a good serve of muesli had a good breakfast. I had to pack the tent in rain, put on a poncho and at 8.30 was on the way. With about 40 km to Swansea, I expected to be there at about 3 pm. The rain did not bother me too much, but when the strong head wind started to blow, turning into a gale, I must admit I did not enjoy it at all. Every time I was walking through a sheltered area I wished it was like that all the way, but it wasn’t to be. It was extremely hard. I had to put my head down to keep going against the wind, but after a while my back starting to hurt and some other muscles from the unnatural posture so I had to straighten up and battle the wind. I had some funny thoughts, like when seeing a dead animal on the roadside, I thought you poor thing. You a dead and I am still walking. How lucky I am. I could have looked at it another way, like you are in peace now and look how I am suffering! But now, I might suffer, but it means, that I am still alive! That is much better alternative. The worst part of the day was no donations. Who would stop in this weather, and also the rickshaw was covered so most people would not know, what the old madman doing out there in this sort of weather. I remember one funny moment from Orford from the day before, when the weather was still OK and my rickshaw full of signs still fully visible, one lady approached me and asked, if that was all my possession. I could not believe, that she would think, that I am some homeless tramp. When I explained to her what I was doing, she quickly told me, that she had no money on her.
Back to today - I expected to be at Swansea at 3 pm, but with the tough going, I thought it would be more likely 4 pm. I could not believe, that suddenly, at 1.30 pm, there was a 60 km sign with Swansea above it. I walked much faster than I realized, being driven by a desire to be at Swansea ASAP. I did not even stopped once for a drink or to eat something, believe it or not.
It was still pouring when I arrived, but suddenly it stopped, warmed up, the sun came out and I was able to dry everything, especially after discovering, that some of my gear inside the rickshaw got wet. I think that water got in through the hinges on the seat. Everything is dry again, I am sitting in the laundry of the Swansea Tourist Park and looking forward to a good night. Weather forecast is for possible showers for the next two days and fine after for few days. It looks promising. So far I have travelled almost 800 km, well past half way. Today I am again a day ahead of schedule.
The weather is improving.
Thanks to Robyn for letting me stay free. When leaving the Park, there were still puddles all over the ground, it was the heaviest rain they had for a long time. And I did not miss it, like most previous runs I was very lucky with the weather. But the luck seems to be changing. No need to add that it was again freezing at night. But "possible showers" did not eventuate, but the very strong head wind from the previous day continued, thankfully without the rain, but it still made my going very difficult. But as was approaching the big hills around midday, the wind suddenly turned around 180 degrees and instead of being my enemy, became my friend. Normally for hills like that I would have to put on my harness, but with the strong wind behind it was so easy.
A cyclist approached from the front and to my surprise it was the same Canadian lady I met at the Bronte Lagoon some time ago. It was like a meeting an old friend.
When I arrived at Bicheno I felt completely exhausted, in spite of covering only 47 kilometres. Must have been the result of the previous extremely hard days. I could have stayed in the first Caravan Park beside the road, but decided to make that extra effort to go long uphill to Seaview Caravan Park. We stayed there when I was doing the same lap as now, running with Debbie de Williams. The owner was a very nice man and we spent an enjoyable evening chatting with him. When I finally got there thinking that I would not be able to make another step, to my shock the place was completely deserted. Not a sole around. I still walked to the reception to find a sign, giving a phone number to call for booking. It was for the Silver Sand Motel, a fair distance from there. A lady answered and told me, that I had to there and pay $15. I expected to pay for it, but not walking such a long way and back. I tried to explain to her what I have been through and suggested, I would rather just pitch my tent without using any facilities, which were all locked anyway, but she insisted, that they are running a business and cannot afford to let anyone to stay there without paying. I could not even imagine how they would made all the facilities, including showers, toilet, camp kitchen etc available to me. So I thanked her and went downhill to the nearest Caravan Park, where for the same $15 I was in Park full of people with all the facilities available and running.
Freezing night again, not much sleep, but I felt good. I planned to find a spot for my tent before Scamander, but once again, fences on both sides of the road and when I saw a sign Scamander 10 km and no campsite in sight, I had already set my mind on Scamander. It was a 60 km day, but I was not as tied as the previous day. As I was approaching Scamander, a gentleman pulled up and took from his car a bowl full of coins. I counted it later and it was almost $30. He introduced himself as George "The Photographer" from Scamander. It was not his real name for sure, because he came from Hungary after the bloody uprising against the Russians in 1956. He is three years older than I and has some terrible memories fro WW2 as well. All this made him extremely compassionate and generous person, as I soon found out. He told me to keep going and that he would be waiting for me at the bridge to take some photos. When I got there, I got a shock of my life. He started pulling out from his car so many goodies for me, that I could not believe my eyes. Two huge toasted sandwiches with egg and bacon and salads, carton of chocolate milk, bag of apples, two bottles of Cascade real juice, two bags of chips, block of chocolate, cashews and biscuits, adding that I would not go hungry tonight. Sure I did not George, your generosity surpasses everything imaginable. What a privilege to meet people like George. He said he had a lot of time for people like me. I have the same for people like George.
I was looking forward to get on internet expecting good signal in Scamander, but to my disappointment the signal was very weak and I could do nothing. I am having a lot of problems with communication, either no signal of no battery power.
Another freezing night, I did not even dare to have shower and walk after to the tent.
Nice morning again after the cold night and I was on the way towards St Helens, when George appeared again handing me a bag. He noticed when giving me all the goodies, thaI had a problem to fit it all in so he brought the good quality bag to put things in and hang it on the rickshaw. Unbelievable!
The weather got very hot when I arrived at St Helens about midday. I could have stayed there still one day ahead of schedule, but after visiting my friends at LJ Hooker I decided to get closer to Weldborough and camp in the bush. First I listened to an advise from George, that I should get a large sign on the back of the rickshaw with "Charity walk" as people, who do not know what I am doing, might think that I am just a tourist. It was a good advice and the sign is on. It is working already. Thanks to Glenn for making it for me.
I kept walking past St Helens for few hours, the total for the day was 40 km when I found a spot to put up my tent.
Next morning I started earlier, got up at 6.15 and by 7.30 I was on the way. I wanted to get to Weldborough early to wash my clothes and catch up with my writing. It was so cold in the morning, that I could not feel my hands, but a huge hill came immediately to my rescue and I was soon very hot!
After a bit of downhill and some level walking came the mother of all the hills. One of those, I thought I would never see the end of it. But eventually I got there, just as a couple of motorhomes pulled up from the opposite direction. It was the support crew for Graeme Milburn's well known fundraiser on bikes for cancer research. I stopped with them for a while, they offered nice cup of tea and fruitcake and of course few Cadbury chocolates. Cadbury is the sponsor for this fundraiser. I have had a lot of support from Cadbury too, they bought the scooter for me I used in the previous fundraisers. I do with them every year the Walk for the Clown Doctors, so we all have a lot in common.
After arriving at Weldborough in perfect weather, I did my washing and all the other thing I need to do, including having a shower while it is nice and warm. Unfortunately no signal, so I cannot get on internet again. Also wind started picking up later in the afternoon and looks like the rain is on the way again. Lets hope it will be only showers.
Weldborough to Launceston.
This was one of the better camping spots and the charge of $5 including shower was very reasonable. The night was not too cold but when I got up at 6.15 am it was very foggy, everything was very damp, so much for being so exited the previous day how I managed to have it all nice and dry. I left at 7.30 ready for the promised showers. I even covered my Teddy Wesley with my goretex, but the light drizzle stopped in a few minutes and that was the end of it. Do I have to stress that I was not disappointed? I knew I had a long hard day ahead so I was happy not to get wet as well. I planned to make it to Scottsdale where I knew was a very good camping spot. It was 56 km so had to keep going, especially since there were many huge hills on the way. I seldom stop to eat when there is such a long day, but this time I could not overcome my temptation to have a nice meet pie. Derby was the right place for it and when I saw in the pie heater couple of potato pies, it was an easy decision. When the lady tried to get it out and into a bag, it kept breaking up, but I assured her, that it does not matter. But she insisted that only the best will do and got the other pie out, but then decided to add to it the broken one as well as a bonus. I just got my spoon out and have no problem eating them. They were delicious anyway.
The hills were huge as always, I sometimes had a bit of a struggle to make it to the top, but as soon as I reached it, I did not need any rest, maybe the adrenalin created by the happiness gave me the second wind and helped me to keep going as fast as I could.
Finally I made it to Scottsdale at 6.30 pm, 56 km in 11 hours including the half hour at Derby. The sign on the back of the rickshaw “Charity Walk” is certainly helping, more people than before are stopping and making donations.
The camping area at Scottsdale is free. It was very full, but I had a good spot for my tent, reserved for me by a couple from New Zealand ( originally from Holland ), whom I met about four times in different places. It is amazing how quickly one can make friends during travels like this. I could even charge my mobile and laptop and posted my stories on the googlepages. I have to add that during that time I was sitting on the floor in the toilet, the only place with power points. It has been lately rare to have both power and reception. And today I have crossed the 1,000 km mark!
It was warm for change, till early morning I slept only in my shirt, but towards morning started to put some more warm clothes, when it started to cool down.
In the morning I started a bit later and the first stop was at the Forestry Eco Centre. This is the place more people should visit, especially those, who think, that we are not looking after our forests well, based on misinformation from certain groups and organisations. I have walked all over Tasmania and could see enormous areas of protected forests, indeed 44% of Tasmania’s land is protected in some form. I am very proud, as Tasmanian, about the way our Forestry people are looking after the forests. They are so dedicated to making sure, that our forests are growing bigger and better and that our future generation inherits the forests from us in a better shape, than what we inherited. Our forests are managed in a sustainable way and therefore it is a mystery for me, why it is being squeezed out. Forestry workers are losing jobs and the future of the whole industry looks bleak. The whole communities suffer, I wonder if our economy is so strong, that some politicians are happy to sacrifice the jobs and the income from the industry for no good reason at all. I must add, that I have not been sponsored by the Forestry for the last two of my fundraiser and therefore have no reason to write anything else but the truth. I urge people to learn more about the practices in our forests by looking at www.forestrytas.com.au It makes me sad to see people being abused in spite of doing a magnificent job in our forests.
Not long after leaving Scottsdale I hit the last of the huge hills. It took me hour and half to cover the 7 km steep monster, but at the top was the reward - a beautiful view of the huge, green valley. I was also lucky that it was overcast and not too hot.
Sometimes I think that I am on the road to the Hell and back, but there are always some Angels waiting for me to help and that makes it all very bearable.
This day was short, only 32 km to Myrtle Park, lovely camping area with all facilities, even tennis court, cricket ground, toilets, hot showers and well equipped camp kitchen. It is managed by Launceston City and the cost is only $3 per night - unbelievable. I was happy to finish for today, in spite of only 32 km, but very hilly, I felt very tired, obviously after the hard yakka the previous day.
The only bad point in this place is the lack of signal for mobile.
I have found a nice soft grassy spot for my tent so I hope for a comfortable night before early start to Launceston tomorrow. Only six days left!
It was foggy when I got up at 6 am and at 7 am, after a quick breakfast of cold milk with muesli and having packed my gear including the wet tent from the heavy dew, I was on the way. It was a good walk without anything special happening, mostly level or downhill and by midday I reached outskirts of Launceston. After receiving a call from The Examiner I was happy to meet with a journalist and a photographer in the City Park. A bit of publicity is always an important ingredient in success of any fundraising.
When arriving at the Brisbane Mall I saw a group of Rotarians fundraising for the complete elimination of polio in the whole world. A very noble course, which is also heavily supported by Bill Gates. One of the Rotarians called at me and to my pleasure it was Michael Ferguson, member of the State Parliament, whom I met few times before. A very likable man, in my opinion he has the qualities to be one day The Premier of Tasmania. He invited me for a lunch and asked me, if Joe Chromy knew, that I was in the town. When I said no, he phoned him immediately and we agreed to meet in the Caravan Park Glen Dhu in an hour time, where I was offered a free site for my tent. That call changed the whole course of my Launceston visit. Meanwhile my son Vlastik phoned me to say that he had to come to Launceston to pick up some material for his business and he arrived with Michelle, his wife, at the same time as I did. It was lovely to meet someone from my family after almost a month away. Unfortunately they did not have much time and left shortly after helping me to pitch my very wet tent to give it a chance to dry out before evening. It did not long and Joe Chromy arrived to pick me up and take me for a visit to his new apartment at the Charles complex. Most people in Tasmania would know of Joe, a very successful businessman, owner of Josef Chromy Wines and most recently famous for purchasing old Launceston Hospital, which was a real eyesore, and turned it into a jewel in the crown of Launceston, featuring hotel, restaurant, luxury apartments and offices. When the current Prime Minister visits Launceston, The Charles is the only place she stays in. We have been lucky to be friends with Joe since arriving in Burnie 41 years ago, where he lived at that time, developing his first business Blue Ribbon Smallgoods factory. Recently he celebrated his 80th birthday, but he still has not slowed down. He lives now in one of the apartments and brought me in to show me his new home. I would need a few pages to describe it all, it is simply majestic!
After showing me around and offering a glass of his famous Pinot Noir, he mentioned that he did not realize, that I was going to sleep in my tent, he offered me to stay in the guest quarters of his apartment instead. It was an offer too good to refuse.
Mila Bertoldo, a very nice lady, who looked after Jo's wife before she passed away, is currently his housekeeper and obviously a good friend, cooked for us and a couple of his friends, who live in the apartment above, delicious dinner, featuring huge, perfectly cooked steaks and all what comes with it. I was thinking how lucky I was for that call from Michael. My plan was to buy a stick of cabana in a supermarket and warm it up with baked beans for dinner. Instead all this lovely meal and tasting many of his best wines and a great evening amongst nice people.
It was getting late, but there was still time for a swim in his beautiful, 35 metres indoor swimming pool and soaking in a spa bath. And someone would say that life was not meant to be easy! At this moment it is very easy for me, at least for a day.
And to top it all, both Joe and his friends Kaylene and Byron Bonney announced, that they each are going to donate $500 to CanTeen! I am absolutely speechless, but extremely happy. More Angels I have met on my journey.
My apology goes to Davo, who came to the Caravan Park to see me as agreed on, only to find that I was not there. But he is going to catch up with me on the road on Monday morning.
Launceston to Burnie
After spending most of the day in Launceston I went for a 16 km short walk to Hadspen in a very comfortable weather conditions. I was looking forward to another lovely evening amongst friends, the family of Gail and Tom Marik. Gail and Tom are the owners of the Copper and Metal Art Gallery at Carrick. It is full of the most beautiful art works. Definitely worth of a visit and buying something beautiful to decorate the walls of anyone’s home.
After a lovely dinner and the most enjoyable evening I retired again to a most comfortable bed. This was my best sleep for a long time.
Refreshed, I left with the rest of the family at 8.30 am. Gail even supplied a lunch for the day and they also made a considerable donation. I did not really wanted it, because Gail is already giving monthly donations to CanTeen, but they insisted and I had to accept their cheque.
The weather again ideal for walking. I cannot complain about the weather lately. Without any real need I was walking very fast and in about an hour I stopped at Carrick in the Copper Gallery to visit our good old friend, Tom’s grandmother, who is over 90 and not very well at the moment, spending most of her time in bed. I planned to spend there only half hour, but it was an hour before I was on the way again. But not long after a familiar person stepped out of car that stopped in front of me. Yes, it was Davo, it was the third time he visited me during my walk. This time he was joined by Ian Cornelius, a well known personality from the ultra marathon scene and the President of The Australian Ultra Runners Association. We had a good chat, I even enjoyed a stubby of nice cold beer from Davo (it did no harm!) and some other goodies. 30 minutes later I was on the way again.
In spite of stopping many times to receive donations and talking to people, starting later than usually, stopping in Carrick and with Davo and Ian, I was surprised, when I finally stopped at 8 pm, that I had walked for the day 60 km. The only access to the bush to camp was behind the Truck Checking Station, everywhere else there were fences right to the road as in most places I walked through. This was very rough place, but I had no choice, it was another 6 km to the pleasant rest area at Parramatta Creek, I would not make it before dark. Camping there is not allowed anyway. The ground was so hard, I had difficulties to drive in the pegs for the tent and the number and the noise of passing trucks during the night made it impossible to get any sleep. But I had good sleep two previous night so I did not complain. I even cooked my dinner, Two Minutes Noodles with two packets of Creamy Chicken Cup A Soup mixed in to make it very filling. And even finished it up with a cup of coffee. I am now very relaxed. It is very close to home!
In the morning all looked good, even my tent was dry for the first time when I packed it in the morning. My plan was to stay over night at Latrobe, but because of the 60 km yesterday, I arrived there very early afternoon. My first stop, as always, was Anvers Chocolate Factory. I can never resist going past without stopping for Hot Chocolate, made the way the old Aztecs used to drink. It is served with a touch of chilli, just to taste it, and a drop of alcohol. I guarantee, that if you taste it, it will be the best hot chocolate you have ever enjoyed. Tho owner Igor Van Gerwen must be the best Belgian chocolate maker, and they are the best in the world. He is always very supportive of my fundraisers, all his staff make donations and he has always some of his great products for me on offer.
Because it was so early, I decided to keep going to Devonport.
As I arrived in Devonport, I decided to walk through the town, collecting donations. But first I was headed to Information Centre, to find the nearest Caravan Park, where I would relax, the last night in the tent. Tomorrow I will be in Penguin where Jo will meet me with our camper van and the next day I will arrive in Burnie at 1 pm as planned. I am on a home stretch, what could go wrong now?
Well, as we used to say, do not praise the day before the evening comes. As I started crossing the road about 100 metres from The information Centre, the rickshaw suddenly jerked and I could not move it any more. To my horror I discovered that the axle of one of the wheel was broken. Now what? The first thing I did was to drag the rickshaw on to a footpath, cover the rickshaw with my goretex to hide the money box and other lose items and with the broken axle ran to Four Ways, where our friend had a bicycle shop. Another shock occurred when I discovered, that he had recently closed it down. I found another shop, the owner told me that he had no parts for the wheel, because it is for wheel chair wheels with a very limited distribution. He could order the axle, but it would take several days for it to arrive. It was obvious to me, that the best things I could do was to call my son and take me home with the rickshaw and organise the repair from home. When it is done, I will return 50 km to Devonport to finish the walk.
So here I am, very disappointed, but not giving up, even though I will not be able to finish it as scheduled. My mood has improved a bit after counting the donation, I will be taking to the bank tomorrow. I was hoping to raise $5,000, in fact with what is on the Everyday hero website and including the sale of bandanas, I have already exceeded $7,000 and hope, that there will be still more.
The final chapter.
The hunt for a new axle started as soon as I got home. The first idea was to visit places where wheel chairs are being used to see, if I can get one locally. After visiting the Hospital and Community service department I soon found out, that nobody was able to help me neither with the axle nor with an advice. In the Leicester Cycling Shop I visited next I was out of luck too, as Rod, who could help, had a day off!
Finally I sent a " Please help!" email to Ben Goodall from the Trisled Human Powered Vehicles, whom I should have contacted in the first place, as it was him who kindly made and donated the frame and the wheels for the rickshaw. He very promptly sent me the address of Rex Imports from Geelong, the suppliers of parts for bicycles, wheel chairs and many other products. They immediately asked for my address and advised me, that they were sending the hub with the axle by Express Post and that there will be no charge to me. The line of angels, I have come across, is still growing. Thank you so much!
The next morning, on Friday 4th March, the part arrived. I took the wheel to Rod to have the expert to check up, if there is not too much damage to the hub from smashed bearing and whether it will be safe to install just the axle for the 50 km home. The hub was slightly damaged, but it looked safe to install just the axle and when I finish, Rod is going to replace the hub as well.
The next morning, Jo and I loaded the rickshaw on a trailer and by 9 am I was back exactly in the same spot, where my journey ended so abruptly three days earlier. A goodbye and a kiss to Jo and I am alone again and on the move.
There were not many people in the Centre of the City, as could be expected on Saturday morning, so I did not stay there too long and headed towards Ulverstone. My legs refreshed by three days of inaction, were moving fast and I was in Ulverstone about an hour earlier, than expected. I stopped there for a lunch, which I had made ready before leaving home, did get some donations, and continued on my way to Penguin, where I planned to stay overnight. But my plans changed, when my good friend Les Naunton visited me during my stay at home, that the first 5 km race of our running club was in Burnie on Sunday, the day I was due to arrive in Burnie. Originally I thought that it would be crazy to take a part in it, and if I stayed at Penguin overnight, I would not be able to make it in time for registration. But as I kept walking fast and got to Penguin early, I started to think, that if I kept walking past Penguin and got closer to Burnie, I could take a part in the race. This idea started to appeal to me more and more and the decision was made. I would keep walking and when told Jo about it, she was not surprised at all. She reminded me of a good spot to camp overnight at Blight Heads, at the Woodchop Area. It was a great idea, it was a very good spot, with nice soft grass and even toilets and tables.
It was still late afternoon and I was thinking, that I would be home before dark if I kept walking, but I advised everyone, that I would finish on Sunday at 12 noon, and that was it. Few cars stopped there and made donations, I cooked my dinner, and after having to pitch my tent under a tree to protect it from early morning dew, when the caretaker, Harvey, turned up and told me, that camping in that area was not allowed, but could not see any problem with me staying there overnight. As he concluded, it was not camping just to stay overnight and even invited me to his home for a cup of coffee and a good chat. He even unlocked a shed, where I could keep my rickshaw over night to keep it safe. With his wife, they were another people, who made a special effort to make it easier for me. The list of angels is still growing.
I got up early, packed all up, my tent dry for the first time, and started to walk to Burnie. Some of my muscles were hurting a bit and I was wondering, if it was a good idea to take a part in the race. When I arrived at the Wivenhoe Showground, the start of the race, I knew I had to give it a go. I asked Jo before to bring my singlet with my number 77 and the race was on. The first moment my legs felt very heavy and stiff, so I took it easy. But after the turn around at 2.5 km the legs started to move much better and I really enjoyed the rest of the run. That was exactly what my legs needed.
At 12 noon, as planned, I finished in front of the Burnie City Council, where Jo, with some friend from the running club and Marilyn Quirk waited for me. But it was not completely over yet. I started walking through the town, hoping for more donations, but most people I met were from a visiting cruise ship and that is not the sort of people interested in charity. Then I learnt, that there was a Surfing Carnival at the beach and that was where all the people were. As soon as I arrived and was noticed by some organisers of the Carnival, I was invited to present some of the medals won by the youngsters and it was accompanied by an announcement about my fundraiser for CanTeen and the possibility to make donations to the cause. And it helped a lot.
On my way home I made a stop at Harvey Norman’s parking lot and received again few donations.
Not long after I was finally home. I was looking forward to it, especially since Jo roasted a duck with red cabbage and dumplings. How delicious it was!
And that was it! Another adventure behind me and back to normal.
This was, without any doubt, the most challenging thing I have ever done. All the other things seemed so easy for me, when I had Jo with me for support. All I had to do was to run or ride the scooter, Jo took care of the rest. This time, the walking part was the easy one. The real challenge started when I had to find a place for my tent, mostly almost impossible task, then settle down, get everything ready for the night and only then thing about something to eat. No wonder, that I lost 6 kg during the journey. I never lost any weight during the previous trips. But now, after the finish, I do not think about any hardship or difficult times, all my memories are about the fantastic people I met during this journey and about the good luck I have had. Even if something went wrong, it was always in the right time and the right place, when something seemed to be almost hopeless, there was always a good solution at the end. I believe, that someone must have been looking after me and was sending so many angels to rescue me from potential troubles. I could not be happier.
There were many very generous and helpful people on the way from all walks of life and age groups, but one interesting thing I observed and would not have expected, was the number of young men, who stopped and made donations, far outnumbering any other age groups. What that means, I leave to anyone’s interpretation. This is certainly one thing, that makes me feel good about the future. There is a lot of good in the younger generation, though many of us might be very sceptical about it, especial after seeing and hearing so many bad stories from the media. I think that there is a lot of reasons to be optimistic about the future.
There is still an opportunity to make donations by credit card to CanTeen on www.everydayhero.com.au/rickshaw or send a cheque written to CanTeen to my address at 10 Amanda Court, Burnie, Tasmania 7320.
To find out, what happens with your donations, you can find about it on www.canteen.org.au
Finally thank you all for your support. It helps a lot and is much appreciated.