Jeff's Walk




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Diary/Notes/Thoughts/Photos for upcoming book

Days 14 & 15

   Wednesday 18th April, 2007

   It was 12deg C this morning and that is the coldest so far on the walk. I had checked the temperature records for the part of Australia I will be in and the time of the year (winter) when I am half way through and I am prepared for -3deg C. That is, I have a sleeping bag rated at 0deg C and I know about wearing all your clothes when the temperature plummets.

   As usual, the first stop in town is the Post Office, but sadly no sat phone in the post today. I was prepared for this as it was unlikely that everything would happen just right to get it here today. I will now plan for it to get here tomorrow and I will leave on Friday.

   Next I went around to the library and spent an hour looking around the great collection before I sat down to the Internet. I always have trouble getting out of a library or a bookshop as I love books. I read absolutely heaps of books on just about any subject with 4 out of 5 being non-fiction. But when I am out of reading material I will read just about anything. I miss being able to read when I settle into the tent for the night. I would finish off a book in a few nights and at that rate I would not be able to carry enough. And books are heavy. So I decided not to carry any and "put up with it Jeff". So now I was in a library, I was drooling over the selection and sampling bits along each row.

   I read my email, there were quite a few as I have been using email since 1990 when I first got access to the Internet. I had set up an Internet Service Provider business and in those early days there was no world wide web as we know it today. Just email and newsgroups where "users" (same word as drug addicts) could join in discussions about selected subjects. I replied to all of my emails, providing general coverage about my walk so far to the many family and friends that had written.

   I checked the DeafBlind Association web page to see if they had added any reference to my walk raising awareness for them, but nothing so far. Janne had told me that they had a volunteer who looked after the site for them but she had not had any luck getting him to do it so far.

   While at the library, I took a call on my cell phone from the ABC South Australia and regional to set up a live interview with Annette Marner, the presenter for the late afternoons segment. I will be on air yet again at 4.30 this afternoon. This Adelaide based service covers the regional areas of South Australia and also into Broken Hill, the big mining town (city) in New South Wales. Broken Hill is 350km from Adelaide, but, although it is in New South Wales, it is 1,000kms from the capital, Sydney. With the multiple time zones across Australia, Broken Hill is "closer" in time to Adelaide.

   When I finished at the library I went back to the caravan park and started a "cleaning out" and maybe some culling of my kit. In particular I wanted to review my route to Birdsville where the maps I was carrying would run out. I laid them all out like a big jigsaw puzzle and I noticed that I had made a mistake and printed 3 maps that missed the road I'll be on by 20 or 30 kilometers. Although Bill had the same maps on his computer, it was going to be difficult to describe exactly what I wanted printed and sent to meet me at Birdsville. I had spent hours selecting the areas to print and getting the scale of each map consistent and still I had made my error. It would turn out to be quite an exercise to get this rectified given our limited communications.

   My neighbours tonight were Walter Windy and Maria Betels, a German couple traveling in a well set out, covered in, 4WD. They had met an Australia couple in Europe who were visiting Germany and then re-met them again on several occasions, once even in France. These coincidences prompted them to exchange contacts and stay in touch. The Australian couple again visited Europe and called in at their house and stayed for several days. When Walter and Maria decided to come to Australia to have a look around, this Aussie couple arranged for them to "borrow" their 4WD with its well prepared camping equipment and tour "as long as you like".

   Radio contact with Roger tonight was excellent but Bill was till hard to pick out of the background static. He is working on building a better antenna system at his house in Stockton.

   Thursday 19th April, 2007

   At last. The sat phone was waiting for me at the Post Office this morning. It was in quite a large carton and I had to decide what bits to take along. Eventually, I settled on the phone, the 240V charger, the 12V charger, the "leather" cover and, for now, the instruction manual. I posted the box with the remaining bits and paperwork back to Bill. I also put in my mobile phone with its chargers as they would not be working after tomorrow. And in went the glasses case that came with my new glasses and in it was the old plastic frame with one lens, plus the loose lens.

   Bill arranged for me to be interviewed by the Wireless Institute of Australia (WIA) , the peak body for the amateur radio operators throughout Australia. Graham Kemp, VK4BB, would conduct the interview and record it. It will be played during the Sunday morning WIA "news" that is broadcast over amateur radio frequencies in all states.

   Back at the caravan park I entirely emptied out my pack and laid it out on the grass next to the tent. I photographed it (photos 252, 253) and wondered at the expanse of the "stuff" that I was taking with me. But there was very little that I could discard. I had gathered a small crowd and talked about the different items and then repacked.

       The full kit as it was at Hawker       Big John "doin' what he does"       Last day (till next time we meet)

   With the pack loaded with everything but the tent, I headed over to the pub for the last time. I had a drink or two with John and gave him a receipt for the donation from the "Hawker Hotel and customers" for $158.70. I thought that was pretty good considering, but I was too early to include another $50. A bloke called Alistair came over to see what was happening and he handed over the biggest single donation so far.

   John and I headed outside for a final photo with me in full rig outside the pub's front door (photo 255). He gave me the name of the managers at the Rawnsley Park caravan park, my next stop, and the owner of the Woolshed Restaurant there. He also told me to look up Peter, who operated the tourist boat on the Cooper Creek at Innamincka. That seemed like forever away. In fact a month and a half. We made final promises to keep in touch and I went back to the caravan park for an early night.

   I "booked out" of  the park as I walked in, coming back from my "goodbyes" with Big John and the staff at the pub. I offered Corrie to pay all or part of the fees as Janne, of DeafBlind had made the initial request for "fee donation" for a "couple of days" and I had stayed 8 nights. We settled on a donation of 3 days for which I wrote a DeafBlind receipt (I carried a receipt book). I then paid for the rest of the nights from my own pocket. As my adventure went on there would be stays at caravan parks, hotels etc, which were arranged by Janne as donations to DeafBlind, "gifted" to reward my effort or those that were none of the above, I paid for myself.

   The new neighbours for this night were Beatrice and her son Florian. We talked late into the evening in the camp kitchen and much later than I intended. Beatrice was from Germany and had met an Aussie bloke over there. They had stayed in a relationship for several years and their son Florian was now about 7 years old. Although Beatrice and here Aussie partner were long separated, but still in touch, she was traveling around Australia with Florian and getting him a bit of Aussie "culture" so he could relate better to his father and his country.

   I finally hit the sack and was asleep within a few minutes.
   Tomorrow, back on the road