Walking for refugees – Why?

A couple of years ago I completed the Australian Red Cross’s When I was a Refugee app. Through the interactive game I was shown the experiences that many refugees experience in their plight to flee war. The game is based on the experiences of refugees who have found their way to Australia. It’s sad, horrendous and should change the mind of even the most hardened refugee skeptic.

A few days ago the Red Cross Calling Challenge advertisement popped up on my Facebook feed. I usually ignore advertising on Facebook but this captured my eye and I felt like I couldn’t ignore it. I clicked the link and was taken to the Australian Red Cross Calling page on which I could choose to go without social media, live out of a backpack or select my own challenge to raise awareness and funds for the Australian Red Cross.

It was a no-brainer for me. The When I was a Refugee app has been on my mind ever since I completed the game. The thought of men, women and children walking long distances with no certainty of safety has been on my mind ever since. And I am glad the Australian Red Cross is there to help refugees here and overseas. So I signed up immediately without giving myself a chance to think – I would walk 12km every day for a month.

I will still have to go to work during the period of the challenge. As a disability support worker my work is quite physical and my shifts are all over the shop so I won’t simply be able to get a daily routine. I have days with split shifts, days when I work 6am – 3:30pm, weekends when I work from 9am Saturday until 4pm Sunday, and shifts where I work 12:30pm – 10:30pm. I have shifts where I push a wheelchair 4km – 5km in a single shift, shifts where I might hoist 5-6 clients in the space of two hours and shifts where I am in the pool for hours. So adding 12km a day will be quite a physical challenge.

Walking 12km every day will also be a mental challenge. I just have to do it, like the refugees just have to continue walking. My distances will be less and there’s no one chasing me but having to walk will force me to give some thought to their realities.

It’s now just two sleeps until day 1.

I’ll be sharing my walks on both this blog and my profile on the Australian Red Cross website. My fundraising goal is a modest $1,500, which will enable the Australian Red Cross to help ten family members separated by war, conflict and disasters to find each other again. Can you imagine walking for years and finding safety only but never to know what happened to your mother, father, brother, sister, son or daughter from whom you might have been separated during a skirmish, confusion of a refugee camp, accident or government ruling you could enter a country but they couldn’t?

All donations over $2 are tax deductible and you’ll receive a receipt from the Australian Red Cross. Will you help me change the world? Donate here.


Stony Creek hike (Bellthorpe National Park, Australia)

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The sound of cicadas fills the air. It’s humid despite the grey skies. The birds are silent. Perhaps it’s too hot. But it’s not too hot to explore the creek. The great thing about a long hot summer is that we have plenty of rocky creeks to explore.

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I park in the Stony Creek Day Use Area. I used to come here when my son was younger so that he could swim in the rock pool. I haven’t been here in over a decade. I guess in all my distractions I had forgotten this waterhole (and many other local places) existed.

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The rock pool at Stony Creek is fed by both Branch Creek and Stony Creek. I decide Stony Creek looks more interesting than Branch Creek so that’s the one I take. I follow the creek upstream for 1.5 hours. There’s plenty of water holes to swim in and admire. This creek is amazing! The water holes are fresh and dark and deep. I almost wish it was sunny so that I could really take advantage of the swimming opportunities.

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I stop along the way to look at the native orchids and other flora. Not that I know the orchids are small flowers are native orchids until I see a comment when I upload my photos onto Facebook. The flowers are pretty and I like the way they are growing in cracks between rocks.

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The blue dragon flies are gorgeous too.

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The snakes I almost stand on aren’t so gorgeous. The first is a small green coloured snake that slithers away as I walk past. The second is a green coloured snake that rears it’s head angrily at me as I approach. The third is a massive python coiled behind a rock that I am stepping over. I am just lucky I looked down before placing my foot. The snake stayed coiled. It was the biggest python I think I’ve ever seen. The final snake really did my head in. It was another python that was on a rock I was about to descend onto. It was hidden but when I almost stepped on it I screamed and ran into the creek like a fool.

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I follow the creek up past where it has stopped flowing. The stagnant water in this large pool is stinky. I try to avoid walking through it but can’t. My feet sink into the stagnant mud. I try to tell myself it’s just a part of life and I need to harden up. But I do much prefer walking through the flowing creek on it’s rocky bed with swimming holes.

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Rain forest takes over up here beyond the stagnant pool. The creek bed is wide and rocky but it must only get wet here when it rains. I love walking in the creek bed and could continue all day. But today is my split shift day so I have to turn around when my 1.5 hour alarm goes off. It’s a good practice in discipline to turn around at the designated time. And it’s better to have a limited time out than not to come out at all.

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I follow the creek back the way I came, ending my day with a swim in the water hole near the day use area. I’m loving this creek exploration thing I’ve got going on. I wonder which one I will explore next.

Status update

The stories from Holland and Belgium will be published soon. I’m home but have been having difficulties uploading photos due to a broken modem. Once that’s resolved the stories will continue. Some text has been drafted but I don’t like to post without photos. Maybe I will find a solutions as soon as this evening. 

Scenic Rim weekend day 2: Boonah

We made a tactical error last night and didn’t bring enough blankets. While I was warm enough with a jumper and sheet, poor Paul froze because he forgot to bring a jumper. We even put the picnic blanket from the entrance door over him but it didn’t help. So while Paul slept in after the sun warmed the morning, I went out for a walk.
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Mt Maroon looks out over Flanagan’s Reserve camp ground like a guard. The twin peaks can look majestical or sinister, depending on the weather. Today rain clouds hung around the twin summit but parted just long enough for this photo.
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After a walk along the road I went down to the Logan River, which runs past the camp. I have lost some of my zen since working full-time and I found it difficult to just immerse myself into the moment. I can’t explain the difference I feel from when I was living the gypsy life. But I also know it will come back.
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I had moments of my former self, such as when I noticed this small red flower a log by the river.
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And when I saw this path and couldn’t help but ponder what it would be like to just follow a random path along a river. My mind started to ponder bigger picture things … like longer term travel and adventure. The path and river called me.
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By the time I returned to camp Paul was awake. The wind was swirling through camp so we packed without eating and drove a little way down the road to Maroon Dam. The dam is on the opposite side of Mt Maroon as the camp. Here we cooked up an omelette on the free electric barbecue and talked about our idea of buying a campervan and hitting the road for a year or two to explore this vast continent. We have a few things we need to do to make it a reality (like buy a campervan and save some money). But we both now work in disability support and hope to both be studying to be primary school teachers (me majoring in health & physical education and Paul majoring in special education) so there is scope for us to work anywhere in future.
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It must be the fresh air and natural surroundings that create possibilities in my mind.
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Our next stop was Boonah. I’ve driven past signs to the town many times but never had cause to stop there. But Paul is with me and together we often stop in tiny towns and find something of interest. Boonah was no exception with it’s lovely art gallery. Janine Gibson, an artist who works with tea bags, recycled fabrics, doilies and tea staining, was hosting an exhibition. She was actually on site because an art tour group was visiting. I liked her work, which is slightly abstract, and we actually bought a piece. Unfortunately, it is part of the exhibition so we will have to wait until we return from Cambodia in late November to pick it up. Not that this is a hardship because it’s a good excuse to head back out. We took a photo of the artist with the piece too 🙂
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After a naughty sweet treat at the Sugarloaf Baking Co bakery we started the drive home only to get side tracked by a sign pointing to a motorcycle museum. As a keen rider myself, I had to check it out. The Panorama Motorcycles and Memorabilia Museum is a great little find. There are lots of cool old bikes, a couple of classic cars and some other items on display. It’s the bikes that really captured my attention though. Apparently most are rideable too, having been lovingly restored.
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For example, there are apparently only ten of these bikes in the world and this one actually runs.
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And this was one of the first Harley Davidsons that wasn’t painted olive green (which was apparently the only colour they originally came in).
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This Wippet Truck was used by the butcher to deliver meat almost 90 years ago in 1927.
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And these pianola rolls hark back to an era before racial equality and discrimination were part of the common tongue. I doubt the person who boxed them up even considered the historic message of the black face images.
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But let’s get back to the main event: the motorbikes. This one is by far my favourite. As a child I watched a movie that I think was called Scrambler or Scramble back in the 1980s or 1990s about a group of kids who rode dirt bikes. All I wanted was a scrambler bike. I did buy a Honda XR250 road-trail bike when I was 18 years old, followed by a Kawasaki KLR250 road-trail bike a few years later but I never quite managed to find a cool old scrambler like this one that was at the museum (I now ride a Suzuki GS500 road bike). So this is my favourite bike in the whole museum.

I loved being away for the weekend with Paul. It was like being where I am meant to be – out exploring the world slowly. I can’t wait to explore more. Watch this space …

2 months goes so quickly 

I never did start that new blog. The past two months have gone by so quickly. Life has taken on a new rhythm. A natural flow of physical training, work and home. I like it for now in a way I didn’t expect. Priorities have shifted from me to family and from absence to presence. Here’s some photos of the joys of the past two months: