Hi Dave. So how do you feel having just walked across Australia? Ah pretty good. In the latter stages and in the days afterwards, every time I’d swing my legs out of the bed, they’d really, really hurt. Knee joints, ankle joints, feet, were all pretty painful. But now I feel pretty normal again.
What was your route? I started in Port Augusta on the Spencer Gulf South Australia. I went up to Karumba on the Gulf of Carpentaria, Queensland.
How long did it take? It took 84 days to do 2,300km. When I set off I was doing about 20km a day. I stretched it out to about 30, 35, 40. Some days I was doing as much as 60km, but then the next day I wouldn’t be good for anything else.
How much were you carrying? If I was at a full load ready to go four days without any resupply of food or water, it could be as much as 30kg, but obviously I would only take as much food and water as I needed to get to the next place. Around 21kg was probably the average weight, I always took a little more than I needed just in case something went wrong.
How about the few people you met? The people in the outback are really, really friendly. There is such a thing as Outbackhospitality, there’s so few people per square kilometre that when they meet each other they’re really generous.
Come across many animals? Oh yeah. I killed an emu at one point. I came across him in the desert and he had a broken leg so I killed him. That was really good meat. One homestead I stopped at, the boys, the jackeroos were just about to head off and get a camel and so I went and helped them butcher it. They gave me the heart. I kebabed it over the campfire the next day which was really tasty. Camel heart is gorgeous meat. It’s kind of symbolic you know. I was trying to become the camel, so I ate its heart.
Tasty. Any other culinary delights? At one point I came into possession of a six foot eastern brown snake. I kept it and made its skin into a really nice hat band which I thought was really cool. I kept the meat. The first night I just speared it on a stick and cooked it over the direct flame. That was pretty lame. The second night I had a friend with me, who brought some tin foil and I wrapped it in that, in the embers of the fire, with some butter and some cheese and herbs and stuff and it was fucking out of this world man.
Did the walk really test your endurance? I like to compare it to freediving. Freediving is about pushing your limits and seeing how far you can go, just for the sheer pleasure. That’s what this is about really. Not much water, not much food and a great deal of distance. A lot of discomfort and solitude and exhaustion and that’s pushing me mentally to the edge, just to see if I crack, see how far I can go. It pushed me in a different way to how I’ve pushed myself before.
In what way? It was hot. It was very hot sometimes. I got used to the heat and now I know I can cover a lot of distance in it. I think 38Â°C was the hottest I recorded. Sometimes at night it was below 0Â°C. It was extremes.
How did you prepare? You can’t really prepare. There’s so many different types of fitness and the only type that’s relevant for this is when you put a heavy weight on your back and walk all day long. If you’re going to train that way, you might as well start doing it. So what I was doing to prepare for it was freediving. I spent two months in Thailand, extending my depth and breath-holding times. I can go to 44 metres and hold my breath for four and a half minutes. It’s all about how strong is your will.
You did the walk in aid of landmine charity The HALO Trust. How come? It is something that’s quite close to my heart because I did serve out in Afghanistan and landmines was the thing I was most afraid of.
For more information on the charity, visit www.halotrust.org