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"I Walked Across Australia!" - Interview with Deanna Sorenson

Whilst living at Wollangarra last year I came across a book called Going the Distance. Donated by fellow ex-Woll staff member and long-distance walker Conrad McKee, the book details the journey of an amazing woman who decided to cross Australia on foot. Reading the book and talking to Conrad about his walking adventures were my inspirations for undertaking and believing that 1900 Footprints could be a reality.

In 1998, Canadian-born marathon runner Deanna Sorenson begun a 5000km walk from Perth to Sydney "Just to see if she could". She has been living in Australia as a wildlife carer and personal coach ever since, and over 20 years later has been has been kind enough to reflect a little on her time on the road.

Five-thousand kilometres! It must have been hard to forsee how you would need to prepare for such a journey. What did you find out that you could not have anticipated beforehand? I could not have anticipated the generosity of complete strangers. I met so many lovely people who invited me into their homes for a meal, a warm/dry place to shelter and friendship. I stayed in touch with many of the people I met for many years after I finished the walk, and still in touch with a few today.

You mention in the book that you decided to do the walk because ‘you just wanted to see if you could’. Obviously you learnt that indeed you could do it, but were the other things you learnt about yourself along the way?

That it is okay to trust complete strangers. There is a lot of good in the world.

You told me previously that you’ve now been a wildlife carer for 14 years - tell me about how all that came about! Was it anything to do with your connection and fundraising with/for the RSPCA?

At one point on the walk I stayed with a woman who volunteered for WIRES and was, at the time looking after "Walter the Wallaby". I thought that was pretty cool, and it would certainly fulfill my 'Rescuer" instincts. After moving to Sydney in 2000, I was wandering around a local market and Sydney Wildlife had a stall. I signed up for the next Basic Rescue course they were holding. I've been a wildlife carer for the last 15 years.

Next year it will be 20 years since your 5000km journey - what does it mean to you now, and has it changed from what it meant to you back then?

Yes, it's hard to believe it's been almost 20 years. What it means now: when things get super tough, I know I can get through it. I have less self-doubt and more perseverance. What it meant back then: I felt that if I did this one "big thing", then my life would be smooth sailing forever. Ambitiously naive thinking but it got me to my finish line.

To read more about Deanna's journey, visit her website at

Thank you Deanna for taking the time to talk about your own journey!

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