Happy New Year from The Happy Walk

Tuesday, Jan 01, 2013 at 15:05


Happy New Year!!!

Being the first day of a new year it is a time of gratitude of the year passed and dreams for the year ahead.

Let me take this opportunity to thank everyone who has followed The Happy Walk during preparation leading up to September 10th and the huge support that has continued and grown since the walk started.

You all know who you are but I’ll make a special mention of a few whose generosity of spirit, hospitality, adventure and donations have left an imprint in my heart.

Thank you Mum and Dad, Cherie and Jim from Ocean Guardians, Michelle and David and Adele from ExplorOz, Kara and the team from Columbia Australia, Ros and Bruce from Wilderness Sports, Grant and Linda, Lisa and Tony, Deb, Jayne, Ange, Frances and Ron, Vanessa, Tee Kay, Veronica and Clive, Michelle (Mickie), Heidi, Margaret and Alan from Sheoaks, Dorcas and Ray, Dave, Jannee, Bec and Edwin, Jan and Lachie, Cheryl, Cynthia, Maxine and Graham, Robin, Kathy, Toni, Margaret and Keith, Athena, Ffyona, Sarah, Murray and Linda and Jane. I could fill pages with names of people who have shown their support and I thank everyone who has taken the time to connect in all manner of ways.

On September 10, World Suicide Prevention Day, I left Melbourne after walking the first 5km to the ferry with supporters from ExplorOz and the wonderful Sarah Eagle of Walking Feat who was also walking her last 5km of an epic trek from Armidale for mental health awareness. It was a relaxed and sunny day walking along the foreshore from St Kilda to the boat.

Tasmania was amazing! The people, the places, the climate. It was much harder than I imagined with a few obstacles along way but after 1200km and 12 weeks I made it back to where I started the first section, sponsored by Ocean Guardians, of this 7 year walk around Australia. For everyone who has been following my blogs at ExplorOz and WordPress you will have shared all the ups and downs and seen, through the lens of my mobile phone camera, just how incredibly beautiful it is in Tasmania. (Just a quick note about getting to Tasmania, it is cheaper, quicker and much friendlier to fly with Virgin, hire a car or even buy an old one once there than take the ferry and deal with monopolised fares, seasickness for 10 hours, rude and falsely assuming customs and security officers and service that makes you feel like you’re an inconvenience. If you do travel by boat then don’t let the experience reflect on the true spirit of Tasmanians)

The Happy Walk has received some very good media coverage including 9 newspaper stories, 2 radio interviews and 1 WIN TV news article. I appreciate this greatly as it helps me connect with the communities I walk through, provides readers with information about mental health and Lifeline, encourages people to meet me as I walk and generates conversation about thoughts and feelings.

Some of you may remember me mentioning in an earlier Happ-e-News edition about fundraising, or rather about not doing it. I changed my mind within the first 2 weeks for 2 reasons. Firstly, Lifeline, who have helped me out on several occasions and who I did an ASIST course with, had made the headlines with news that donations had dropped and funds were stretched. Secondly, people were asking who I was fundraising for and how they can make a donation.

I now have a fundraising page for Lifeline through Everyday Hero where anyone, individual, organisation or business can make a donation direct to Lifeline through The Happy Walk. You can find it either through the home page on my website, links on social media, go to Everyday Hero and search for The Happy Walk or Terra Lalirra or simply click on this link Lifeline Donations.

Lifeline has already received almost $700 through The Happy Walk. $315 of once off donations and $360 through pledges initiated from Everyday Hero. As the walk is funded through my disability pension, while it lasts, I put all cash donations made while walking into the Everyday Hero account for Lifeline under the donors name (if known) via my own bank account.

Sponsors, supporters, friends and family help out in ways far more valuable than they may fathom. Discounted and gifted clothing, equipment, food and sports nutrition, accommodation, transport and clean water all help towards making this walk a success, making it logistically possible and safer. The company and open hearts and homes of the many people who care helps keep me safe, happy, comfortable and well fed physically and spiritually. Connecting online is very important for my psychological wellbeing. Facebook, blogging, forums, emails, twitter are an excellent way to stay in touch and every word of encouragement, every like, every share helps put a bounce in my step and a smile on my face.

You all give me the strength to keep going. You are all part of this walk.

Another turn around in ideas for the walk is the opportunity for groups and businesses to invite me to talk about the walk and my story of survival. I wanted to do this way back when The Happy Walk was just an idea but after support driving for Sarah as she walked/cycled from Armidale to Melbourne I saw how energy intensive talks can be. It was hard watching the wounds of Sarah’s heart get torn open each time she shared her brother Ben’s story to help others better understand mental illness and the importance of getting the right help.

Without a support vehicle or crew each walking day will be a challenge and sticking to a daily itinerary is not possible. I decided not to do talks around Tasmania but Robin, an international lecturer in psychology, who was a fellow guest at Hanlon House B&B has convinced me to give it a go so I can reach more people with my message of awareness, survival and strength.

Talks are back on the agenda. If you or someone you know are interested in a talk as I travel through your area please email me and we can start planning it. thehappywalker@gmail.com

The second section of the walk, sponsored by ExplorOz, from Melbourne to Adelaide via Mornington Peninsula, Geelong, Shepparton, Swan Hill, Mildura, Renmark, Mt Gambier, Murray Bridge and Kangaroo Island was supposed to start today but the trekking cart isn’t ready yet and I have a few medical issues to deal with first. I will hopefully get back on the road (or alongside the road) mid to late February and avoid the potentially dangerous heat of summer. I can’t avoid the heat forever though.

A company called Bonny Weld in Port Macquarie are building the cart. They are very helpful and specialise in custom built alloy designs. It was a relief to talk with Craig about the cart design, having no knowledge of engineering I had no idea if my design would work. Craig contributed a few engineering ideas and I was encouraged by the knowledge the cart will be light, functional, aerodynamic and will not only last 32,000km around Australia but around the world if I wanted.

I have just one request of my supporters. In the past I have mentioned a “wish list”, and have been in a fortunate position, with the help of Paul and Gwen my parents, Grant and Linda from Queensland, and discounted gear from sponsors and supporting businesses, to have acquired everything I need and a few extra things I wanted. Now the only thing on The Happy Walk’s wish list is help paying for the trekking cart. My parents have very generously offered to help but it is more expensive than I expected so if you would also like to help out I would be very, very grateful. So grateful, in fact, I will put your name and/or logo on the cart. Thankfully it isn’t nearly as expensive or heavy and cumbersome as some of the alternative companies and their design changes. Bonny Weld understands what I’m doing, respects my design and have no intention of hijacking it for self-promotion.

Consider this letter a big hug of thanks. I have been overwhelmed by support, generosity and love.

2013 will be a great year! I hope you will all enjoy love, happiness, health and continue to take care of yourselves and each other.


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