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Days 68-71: Achilles a-Killing!

Sunday 7/01/18

Jane was kind enough to drive me back to where she had picked me up the previous afternoon, but not before I had a cup of tea with her and Pooh and was gifted a few jars of Rennie’s homemade tomato chutney. Is there anything better than homemade chutney? I think not!

On the drive we got to talking about my ideas of studying later in the year. Jane gave me some helpful ideas about this, which, when left alone on the side of the road, got me thinking seriously about it for much of the morning. I would be lying if I said I hadn’t been thinking about ‘what’s next’, after I finished the walk. In fact, I have been thinking about what’s next before the walk began, but certainly being back in Adelaide in the new year got my mind ticking over that much more.

My thoughts this morning on going back to study were further helped along by a phone conversation with a friend, Cory, who has just finished what I had been looking to beginning mid-year: a Masters of Urban Planning/Design. Both these conversations left me feeling much more certain about going back to study, and having passed through Robe I found myself in a particularly good mood, thinking of what I would be doing later in the year. Thanks Jane and Cory!

It was around this time I got the first of two spontaneous blood noses for the day. Not wanting to go into too much detail for your sake, neither was particularly serious but probably due to the strange weather going on around me. In the sun it was hot, but then a cool wind was blowing such that it was difficult to stay comfortable when it seemed like the ambient temperature was changing so rapidly. The second occurred just as I was about to start eating lunch, which was a little unfortunate, but at least I had time to rest afterwards, again, to avoid the heat of the day.

Later in the afternoon I was passed by a fellow called Jimmy on his bike. He slowed and we got to talking and eventually sat down on the side of the road for an extended yarn. We eventually set up camp together at a nearby rest area. It was great sharing travel experiences, values, and similar anecdotes with someone living a similar (temporarily vagabond) lifestyle.

But for now the persistent wind has got the better of us so we’re each in our tents, about to fall asleep...

Monday 8/01

Wake Up. Get up. Pack down. Hit the road.

I bid farewell to fellow road-wanderer Jamie and let myself get lost in the bitumen. Only, my right heel and Achilles were painful and making it a little less than comfortable to walk. Why?

After finishing my Tasmanian leg in Hobart I stayed a night with my good friends from Woll Claire and Six. On the way back to their place we stopped to get some groceries (mainly to get Claire some Corn Flakes), and as we were driving away we heard, felt, then saw the Corn Flakes slide off the roof of the car and hit the road. I could see what was going to happen next: the light was going to turn green and the Corn Flakes were going to get run over so I yelled “STOP” and jumped out of the car to run back and pick them up.

Only, I was a little hasty in jumping out of the car and my heel got clipped by the rear tire, as the car was still moving. It hurt for an hour or so but was fine afterwards. That was, until I walked over 60 km in two days...

Before leaving that morning, I told this story to Jamie, who luckily was a physio and gave me a quick assessment. He thought I would be fine to finish the walk if I had some anti-inflammatories, and luckily I had some left over from my shin injury. They would continue to hurt all day though!

Again, I stopped for a few hours over lunch to beat the heat of the day and continued on my way. I had tried to get a lift from the main road to Beachport to get a cold drink, but for some reason no one wanted to stop to pick me up on the side of the road! It was a little sad. So I continued on my way, eventually reaching a grassy area perfect for camping around 30 m off the main highway.

I set up camp, cooked my dinner, spilled it over the ground and ate a lot of grass trying to salvage as much of it as possible. It was worth it.

Tuesday 09/01

Today I got eaten alive.

Whilst cooking with my tent open the previous night I had been bitten all over by tiny mysterious invisible insects that left with with itchy red dots all over when I woke up. And during the day I would be at a constant battle with sandflies, which not only gave a painful bite, but left large swollen red marks for a day or two afterwards. Along with another day of my painful heel, it certainly felt like I was in the wars!

After a good night’s sleep I got up slowly and was on the road again by 8.20. Millicent was only 15 km down the road and I knew I would need to stop to get some fruit and veggies for the next day and a half. Those 15 km went fairly quickly and before I knew it I was also munching down some hot chips in town.

I continued for another 10 km before stopping for lunch once I had turned off the main highway. Over lunch I pondered my predicament. It really was quite uncomfortable walking with an injured heel/Achilles, and I was wondering if I was just doing further damage, even if the pain was not getting worse. I decided to make it to Mt Gambier, rest on it for a day (when it would also be sweltering hot) and see how it felt the next day. But then I didn’t trust myself to not just press on, even if a day’s rest didn’t help. Mt Gambier is less than 100 km from the finish line.

In the town of Tantanoola I was stopped by a young family who asked about what I was doing and kindly gave me a donation. At least the people were still on my side! And by the time I had completed 36 km, stashed my trolley in a pine plantation and walked back to the side of the road I was ready to meet some more lovely people: Hilz and Tom and their family, with whom I would be staying on a sheep and cattle station that night. They were friends of friends, incredibly warm, welcoming, lovely people and I couldn’t have asked for a better dinner! What a pleasure it was to be able to stay with them and their little boys. Thank you!

Wednesday 10/01

I awoke in a beautiful stone room of the sheep-shearer’s quarters and got my things together before having some breakfast with Hilz and her boys. They would be going to the beach after dropping me off back at my trolley (lucky!) while I sweltered through the heat of the day before making it to Mt Gambier before the heat really set in.

Hilz dropped me back and after a quick re-packing of my things I set off. Today would be on the main highway all the way to Mt Gambier, a decently busy stretch of road but luckily for a shorter day, only 30 km.

It was uneventful really. I was stopped by Charlie who gave me a quick donation, I drew the tickets for the raffle prizes and made it to Mt Gambier by 3.00 pm, where I stopped by the offices of the Nature Glenelg Trust. I met Rose, with whom I would be staying in Mt Gambier and said a quick hello to a few of the other staff members before walking to Rose’s place to put up my feet for the rest of the day. My Achilles was still hurting, and now the pain had spread to the other foot, which made no sense to me as it had never been run over by a car tyre! Perhaps it was my shoes more than anything...

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