The Happy Walk Week 1 Tasmania

Tuesday, Sep 18, 2012 at 22:12


Week 1

On Monday 10th September, World Suicide Prevention Day, I started walking around Australia. That sounds much bigger than it feels. I have broken it down into small sections and take it one day at a time.

Day 1 started at St Kilda Pier at 2pm with friends from ExplorOz and Sarah Eagle from Walking Feat and her supporters including Professor Patrick McGorry. (This is where I plan to finish in about 7 years and 32,000km.)

We all walked the 4.5 kilometres down to Station Pier where I caught the ferry to Tasmania. It was a wonderful day with lots of sunshine and a casual stroll along the beach chatting with new friends and celebrating the end of Sarah’s big walk with the passing of the baton.

It was a bit different sleeping on the ferry instead of Lisa’s comfy pad in Melbourne but thankfully I had a twin cabin all to myself and the 11 hour crossing to Devonport was so smooth there wasn’t even the slightest swell.

Devonport to Launceston Tuesday 11th to Sunday 16th
As soon as I left the ferry I collected my walking poles which customs confiscated before boarding because they are classified as weapons then found somewhere for breakfast and coffee. The Dockside Café had great coffee and they gave me a donation as I hoisted my pack on my back to start walking.

Everything went as planned and I made it to Port Sorell Lions Caravan Park, Tasmania’s largest caravan park, early in the afternoon and had a chat with a few people about their experiences with depression and anxiety. On the way The Advocate newspaper caught up with me for an interview and some photos which were published the next day as I walked to Frankford. It was a great day and super comfy night in my tent. The park managers, Lyn and Denis, generously donated my campsite too.

It was not the same story the next day as I managed to get lost for an hour making a wrong turn (don’t ask how, it’s embarrassing) then the normally quiet, narrow and windy road turned into a highway after a terrible accident slowing me down as I had to keep stepping off the side of the road into knee deep ditches, leaning against cuttings, getting hooked up in thorny bushes and sinking into stinky muddy drains. Imagine a road with no more room than for 2 cars to pass each other but with hundreds of freight trucks, tourist coaches and cars of all sizes speeding about 20km over the limit. After only about 25km I started cramping up and decided to jump ahead to Beauty Point and take a few unplanned days off for unexpected health reasons.

The Beauty Point Tourist Park was a perfect place to recover and the owners, Kathryn and Anthony, helped out by providing my accommodation for half price. It is a caravan and cabin park, close to the seahorse and platypus centres located on the Tamar River and sharing a small spit with the Redbill Point Conservation Area. While resting I indulged in some birdwatching wishing I had room in my pack for binoculars but it was fun pretending I could identify them from half a kilometre away.

On Sunday I met up with my CouchSurfing host, Ange who has shared her house and the company of her 2 gorgeous beagles, Wally and Hunter. We have cooked some healthy meals, enjoyed a couple of glasses of local wine, learnt a thing or two about Launceston and Tasmania and had a good laugh at life.

Yesterday The Examiner, northern Tasmania’s main newspaper, caught up with me and published a story about the walk in today’s paper. It is great having the help of the newspapers to reach out to people and spread the message to many more people than I can reach while walking. I really hope it helps.

Today I had my first real sports massage. It was very painful but felt good and the therapist gave me some effective stretches to do each time I take a break during the day. I will be trying to get a sports massage regularly to help avoid serious injury in the future. A combination of this and daily stretches, plenty of water, timely electrolyte replacement and a healthy diet should keep me going.

Tomorrow morning I continue walking north to Low Head then Bridport before heading to the east coast. I am looking forward to more Tassie spring weather, meeting many more wonderful and fascinating people and seeing Australia’s most beautiful state at an easy walking pace.

Thank you to everyone who has sent me messages to support and encourage me as I start this huge walk for depression awareness and suicide prevention.

And don’t forget to reach out and talk to someone if you’re not feeling well. There is always someone who cares and can help you.


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