What would make a 23 year old girl walk 600km by herself in 40 degree heat for a month straight? Camping on the side of the road & sleeping on the ground. Did someone make her do this? Was she held hostage and someone told her if she didn’t walk 600km they were going to kill her? Was she doing it for charity or was she doing it for fitness? Or was it none of the above & she was just simply doing it because she was bored? Bored & wanted to test herself. She wanted to show the world that when you step out of your comfort zone it will change you. It will also make you appreciate the little things in life like a car, a microwave, a pudding cup and even the company of friends and family? Read on to follow her journey through 1 month of pure hell but the same time the best damn month of her life.
Ok, let me start with the day I woke up & thought ‘HELL YERRRHHZZZZ, today looks like the perfect day to pack my backpack, dust off the old runners & head off on a cheeky 600km walk.’ I mean, I’m not the only one who has randomly woken up one day and thought that am I? Okay maybe I am, and yes I realise it is not normal, and yes people have given me Susan the psychiatrist’s number multiple times, but yeah I don’t know I just get bored and like to do stupid stuff. I don’t want to waste my time on this precious planet. I want to go out and explore, do crazy things, meet crazy people & have some bloody ripper stories to tell the grandkids one day.
I can imagine their faces now while I sit there in a nursing home, with long black hairs sticking out on my chin mumbling ‘back when I was a young whipper snapper we didn’t have all y’all fancy hover boards & robot friends, we had to entertain ourselves and the only way we did that was to walk, walk for 10 hours straight for a month. And they will be looking at me while slowly munching on the stale ANZAC biscuits I gave them that had looked like they have been sitting in a dirty old tin for years and thinking ‘Nan, it sounds like you were just on drugs or something?’ No kids I was not on drugs, I just like a challenge.’
One 20kg backpack, a roll of toilet paper, a couple of rissole sandwiches and 1 adventurous young girl. ‘Cya mum, cya dad!’ I yell as I strut down our 250m long drive way in the leafy burbs of Lilydale.
‘WHAT THE HELL AM I THINKING?’ I think to myself as I can just see my house in the distance. ‘WALKING IS HARD MAN, THIS ISN’T EASY?’ ‘IS IT TOO LATE TO TURN AROUND AND SAY PHYCH! Got ya! I was only kidding, I’m not walking to Canberra? Do you think I’m stupid? HA HAAAAA.’ But no, it had to be done, I don’t really know why it had to be done, but it just did. That day I walked and walked and walked, then cried and cried and cried. That day I walked 56km. I don’t even know how I walked that long, I must have had so much adrenaline running through my blood. It was starting to get dark and I was walking along the highway, I was scared shitless, my phone had gone flat and all of a sudden I heard a lady yell from an old weather board house “Backpacker! Are you okay? Come over here.” Look my parents taught me better than that not to go into a scary old ladies house in the middle of nowhere when it was pitch black. But you know? I like testing my luck & I am a yes man.
The next day I wake up with a thumping headache lying in a small claustrophobic dusty bedroom with a can of Jack Daniels next to me on the bedside table. Confused? Don’t worry I was too. And no I didn’t get roofied. Let me put the night simple in dot point form:
A strange old lady invited me into her house
I accepted the invitation
I spent the night drinking, talking crap & laughing with about 20, 60 year old country bumpkins who were the nicest people ever
I wake up in their spare room with a ripper headache, but what I felt were friends & memories for life
I grab my backpack, a nutrigrain bar, say my goodbyes & thank you’s & head on my way.
Walking away from that house which was about 20km out from Yea, I felt like I was doing the walk of shame- like this must be what it feels like after you have just had a one night stand and have to walk home the next day confused & alone with still the stink of alcohol covering your body. I was SO SO rusty but I thought the only thing that could fix my whooping headache was a cruisy 25km walk.
If I had the time or friends that don’t get distracted and bored easy when reading this I would explain every day & every single emotion I felt for that month, but nobody wants to hear that so I’ll just skip to the good bits of the trip and chuck in some of my stupid videos I made while I was bored on the trip at the end.
The first major thing that happened to me within the first week was I walked 20km in the wrong direction. 20 bloody kms!? Trust me when I say that is a long way! Basically a whole day of walking, my bag was so heavy and it was around 40 degrees every day so I had to stop every 20mins to breathe & re adjust.
But back to the whole 20km in the wrong direction thing. If you read my other blog post I know straight away you are straight back to the whole dumb blonde thing yeah? Well I mean it wasn’t my fault it is hard to tell when your phones maps don’t work. Yeah probably another thing that wasn’t the smartest; doing a 600km walk without a map, I just kind of thought if I head north I would find Canberra sooner or later.
After that day of walking in the wrong direction I was luckier enough to be walking past YARCK. Where the fark is YARCK? Well Yarck is where my pet pig Constable Crackles lives.
I got to visit him I was so excited!
Constable Crackles is always happy to see his mother.
The next week I had walked nearly 200km. The day I hit 200km it was a hard day. I had 2 days straight of walking through basically what felt like a desert. It wasn’t a desert I think I was just delirious. It was so hot, I was normally drinking 5L of water a day. The next day I hadn’t put into the equation that I wouldn’t hit a town where I could top up water for another 24 hours. I had ran out of water and was so thirsty. I didn’t know what to do? My theory was if I ate enough pudding cups it would rehydrate me. I ate 5 pudding cups, it didn’t rehydrate me, but dang they were delicious! I started feeling really dizzy and couldn’t see properly. That day I had to resort to drinking water out of a dam. Dam water. I even felt like the cows were judging me. I got down on my hands and knees and just surrendered, I laid there for hours butt naked in a dam in the middle of nowhere, no one around to judge me, just me, myself & nature. I knew if I could get through this, I could get through anything. Obviously I didn’t know the worst was yet to come.
I have lovely parents that every so often, would drive up to whatever location I was at and spend a couple of nights with me in a BnB then they would wave me off the following day as I continue walking. The first time they drove up I was close to the border of NSW & VIC. It was an exciting day, I waved them off and continued my walk. I HAD MADE IT TO THE BORDER WHOOP WHOOP WHOOP WHOOP! I AM THE WORLDS GREATEST.
When I arrived in Albury I was knackered, I thought I would chucked my bag in a bush hiding where nobody could see it in the park, put my flip flops on and go for a walk around town, free as a bird no bag & no shoes.
I felt SO free. I remember walking back to my bag an hour later, I was on the phone to my boyfriend and said to him ‘Wouldn’t it be funny if someone stole my bag? If they can lift it they can have it!’ I joked.
‘OH F***K’ I yelled when I rocked up to the spot I hid my bag an hour later. All that was left was my towel & my hat.
My bag, my tent, my gopro, my underwear, my money, my food, my clothes…..EVERYTHING.
I was stuck there all alone as the sun set with nothing, just the clothes on my back which were a pair of short shorts, my thongs & a singlet. I was lucky enough to still have my phone on me. ‘crap crap crap crap’ I thought to myself not sure what to do. I always told myself in these situation there is nothing I can do but laugh. I laughed….. the kind of laugh you do when someone says something and you have to say ‘what’ like 5 times until you finally realise you have no bloody idea what they are talking about so you just let off a small giggle.
What is the one thing you would do, if all your things got stolen? You were stranded by yourself? Well I did the most logical thing I could in that situation…..
Head to the pub.
And I am so lucky I did head to the pub that day! Because I met a wonderful group of people. I told them my story & how all my stuff got stolen. They instantly wanted to help. As I have said previously, you can always rely on the kindness of strangers. They gave me a tent, some old clothes & let me stay at their apartment until I was ready to get back on the road and walk again. The next 2 days I walked 10 hours a day in my thongs. My bag getting stolen was kind of a blessing in disguise because I didn’t have a heavy bag holding me back anymore. All I had was an Aldi bag that had everything I owned.
A few days later I was heading into the forest to continue my walk on a section of ground that I was very unfamiliar with. Off I trot into the forest by myself with an Aldi bag, a tent, 12 cans of tuna and a lot of determination to smash the rest of this walk out.
So who can guess what happens?
I BLOODY GET LOST, I was on a walk and it had detour signs. Little did I know nobody had walked that path for over 10 years, it was over grown, the track I was heading down was just full of prickle bushes & overgrown ferns.
If I was a good enough writer to describe those few days I would, but honestly I still say now that it was the worst 3 days of my life. But I know what you are thinking ‘YOU ARE A BLOODY GOOSE MATE!? WHY DIDNT YOU TAKE A MAP’…. Oh don’t worry I did take a map, I paid $13.95 for a map of the walk. Do you think the information centre I got that map from told me that the walk has been closed for 10 years and they just ‘forgot’ to put signage up. The first day I had to get my machete out and chop through prickle bushes to find my way. HA, only kidding I didn’t have a machete. It was a blunt Stanley knife I nicked from my dad’s garage before I left on my walk. I know I am about to sound like a major drama queen, but if you honestly knew me you would know that I am not a pussy. I got caught in a bunch of prickle bushes. SHUTUP I know you are already thinking ‘PUSSY!’ but no these prickle bushes were FULL ON. I don’t think I have ever screamed so much in my life. I was actually stuck. I couldn’t get out, after about 15 minutes of being in the middle of nowhere screaming ‘ARGHH SOMEBODY HELP ME!’ I realised I was just going to have to cop it on the chin and break out. I left that darn prickle bush bleeding everywhere, my whole body had scratches and prickles all over it. And do you know the worst thing?
This was Australia Day 2017.
All I was thinking was ‘All my friends are probably just playing beer pong around a sweet arse pool right now and I’m stuck in the middle of the forest by myself lost, bleeding all over the joint.
But then I thought ‘argh well, you win some you lose some!’
The next day was even worse…..I was lost & following the detour signs in the middle of the jungle until they just stopped.
‘WTF?’ I thought to myself. ‘Where do I go now?’ At this stage I only had 8 cans of tuna left. I walked for hours and hours in the one direction. I had no reception, no accurate maps, no nothing, just myself, a couple of cans of tuna & my bloody bearing! (That had totally let me down before!) It started to get dark so I decided to set up camp next to a beautiful river in the middle of the bush with no one but my own company around. I even tried that whole ‘cowee’ thing.
‘COOOOOOOOOWEEEEEEEEEEEEE!!!!!!’ … no answer.
‘COOOOOOOOOOOOOOOWWWWWWWWWWWWWEEEEEEEEEEEE!!!’ … still no answer.
I didn’t sleep that much that night, I honestly thought I was going to die out there. I know it seems stupid now to think that, but I had nothing! And this is the point in life where you have to rely on yourself the most. Trust yourself & back yourself. The next day I got up, left at the crack of dawn and walked in the same direction for hours… and hours …. And hours!
It started to get late, I had eaten sweet F all and my water supply was limited. I thought to myself ‘argh well, shit happens! I’ve had a good life…spewin I didn’t get to see who won My Kitchen Rules that year, but you get that on the big jobs.’
Night had just fallen…..These high beam bright white lights started beaming towards me… for a split second I thought ‘HOLY CRAP IM DYING, I CAN SEE THE LIGHT’ ….. no it wasn’t that….
It was just a tree lopper. I mean JUST a tree lopper! He wasn’t just a tree lopper, he saved my freaken life! I jumped out in front of his old worn down UTE waving my hands like I was in the audience of a one direction concert screaming out ‘PICK ME PICK ME TO COME UP ON STAGE!!!’ he pulled over and the moment was surreal. I couldn’t believe it! I was safe. He took me to a local’s house and they looked after me. They owned a nearby caravan park, they gave me a hot meal, a shower and let me camp for free. Once again. Back to the kindness of strangers! HOW AMAZING ARE PEOPLE!! OH MY GOD! PRAISE THE LORD.
Dinner with a view
I swore to myself the next day I would stick to the main drag & I would finish the last leg of the walk walking on main roads in case I got in trouble there would always be someone close to lend a helping hand. That’s what I did. As much as people would pull over asking if I was a Swedish backpacker wanting a lift, I would reply with ‘cheers mate but all good just going for a small stroll from Melbourne to Canberra.’
About a week before I finished my walk the rain started bucketing down. There were days I would walk flat out 10 hours in the pouring rain up mountain ranges, down gullies, no umbrella no nothing. One of the longest days of the walk I ended up at a caravan park, I needed shelter. It was absolutely PISSING down! I arrived to this dingy little caravan park in the middle of nowhere hoping for some shelter. ‘Sorry girly, we are full! What are you doing around here by yourself anyways?’ ‘Oh you know, just going on a little adventure.’ He looked at me weird…’oh okay, well um… you can use the shower block to wash yourself off if you want?’ That was the best I was going to get. He gives me the code and I strut in there like I was the happiest girl on the planet, drenched as hell not sure where to camp that night. My tent couldn’t hold the rain (remembering it was a $7 tent from k-mart that old mate from Albury had given to me). That night I decided to spend it sleeping in the shower block. Crawled up on the bench in a smelly cubicle feeling like a homeless person is where I spent the night. Every time someone would walk in I would jump up pretending I was just brushing my teeth or having a shower. It was a long night, but I was so close to Canberra I could taste it! Not far now I kept telling myself ‘just keep swimming, just keep swimming!’
The day had finally come, ‘tomorrow is the day I arrive in Canberra!’ WOOOHOOOO! I thought to myself, I have made it. I had never been so proud of myself in my life. To think I went from a washed up teenager who thought she was useless, to someone who had conquered a massive achievement! This moment had changed my life, changed the way I looked at my life, changed the way I think, but mostly changed the way I was going to spend the rest of my life. You might be thinking ‘Aimee WTF are you talking about that was a horrible story, everything that happened to you was so crap. Dude your bag got stolen, you got lost in a forest, you drank out of a dam butt naked and you are saying it was the best thing that ever happened to you. Holy Moly you defiantly need to give Susan the psychiatrist a call! But when you do something that amazing and push yourself to the limits, it changes you. I can honestly say that day I arrived in Canberra, I was the happiest I had ever been in my life! I was so excited to see my friend who lived in Canberra. ‘A REAL BED!! AN APARTMENT! REAL FOOD!!’ I thought to myself as I rocked up at his house with a smile bigger than life on my face. Exhausted as hell I rock up to his house! ‘Oh Aimee, you don’t mind if you sleep on the ground tonight do you, I have a mate in the spare room?’ ‘WTF, argh yeah….no worries mate.’ I thought to myself as I lay on the wooden floor boards that night thinking about the long, crazy month I’d had.
I spent a couple of days in Canberra exploring by foot, not sure what to do now! I finally decided, I was going to catch a bus down and climb the highest mountain in Australia, Mount Kosciuszko, but that is another bottle of wine!
If you can take anything from this story, I’m not just writing it because I want you to listen to me talk about myself and what I have done over the past couple of years. My main focus in writing these blogs is to encourage you to get out there and do something crazy, and I know I say it on repeat over and over again…. But if you want to stop having to read my stupid blogs you are going to have to go out there and do something out of your comfort zone and make sure you let me know how you feel! Because honestly, even if I can only inspire one person in the entire world to get out there and do something out of the ordinary, an adventure that would change their life or even something small that they normally would not do, instead of working the usual work 9-5, go home, sleep & repeat I will be the happiest girl in the world! So if you aren’t doing it for yourself then at least do it for me and please let me know the crazy journeys you are going to take, or have taken! I want to hear every single one!
Thanks for reading
Love Aimee xxxxxxxx
Me on top of Mount Kosciuszko with a beer in my hand