After several attempts to start this adventure, the green light was finally given for an April 4th launch. Getaway Trekking & Adventures had kept us well informed with detailed lists of what to bring, travel arrangements, insurance, our food and accommodation on the walk, etc.
When we arrived in Melbourne our walk leaders [Laurie and Julie] were there to meet us, and for the whole 10 days they did everything to make this an enjoyable experience. We had a 12-seater plus trailer to get us and our luggage to Portland. Our accommodation for the 10 days varied from shared motel rooms to dormitory-style; nothing flash but always clean and comfortable. For me, the most important thing was a good shower at the end of each day, and I was never disappointed. Breakfasts and lunches were provided, and again, they varied from a small packet of cereal and toast, to a full-blown cooked breakfast. Dinners were at our own cost at one of the local pubs. But if you are doing this walk to lose weight, forget it!
I had done some preparation in terms of my fitness, but I considered myself seasonably fit and I wasn’t too concerned about my ability to cope. That notion was put under serious pressure at the end of day 1!
But the leaders were very encouraging and each morning the will to go another day grew stronger. Our group dynamics developed rapidly and that certainly helped me to put in the extra effort; I didn’t want to let the team down. While the walking was certainly difficult, at the end of each day the social interaction at meals was a real positive. We were all certainly quite different, and not only in age, but our differences helped mold us into a cohesive unit.
Talents such as humor, knowledge, medical expertise, empathy, music, art and language were readily shared. There were moments of deep philosophical discussion as well as bursts of uncontrolled laughter and joy. There were also long periods where nothing was said because we were all in various stages of physical and mental anguish. And through all this, we all agreed that the scenery that each day brought with it, lifted our spirits. From lofty cliff-tops, through scrubby sand dunes and shell-strewn middens, along rusty railway lines or white-clay lanes that stretched for miles, through shady pine plantations, past herds of sheep and cattle that seemed to query our sanity.
And we grew to appreciate the simple pleasures – a gentle breeze, the shade of an old tree, the footprints of those leading the way, a chair and a cup of tea at lunchtime. And through all this, the story of Mary MacKillop – her hardships, her struggles, her failures, her determination – was there to inspire us to push on. What a fantastic experience.
Alby Van Berkel
We’re glad you had a great time Alby! We’re really proud of our leaders, Laurie and Jules are two of the best. Hoping to see you again on another walk with us.