Man On 3-Year, 40,000 km Charity Walk Steps Into Kunnamulla
I realised in the shower recently that I know quite a few Interesting & Inspiring Individuals. This is the first of a series of blogs I’ve decided to scribble down about their characters and/or achievements.
Now, sit back and be impressed! (by them, not me)
Hawk’s Big Walk
What’s the furthest you’ve ever walked? Was it hours? Days? Maybe you’ve walked the Kokoda trail? Now that’s definitely a challenging trek!
But what kind of motivation would you need to walk for three years straight?
On May 2nd, Gareth “Hawk” Pritchard got up with the sun and set off from Surfers Paradise for a walk that will see him tackle the entire coastline of Australia – on foot, unassisted, and carrying a 50Kg pack with all he needs to survive.
Five months and 8,000km later, Hawk has now stepped out of the Northern Territory and into the vast open spaces of Western Australia. He walks up to 70km/day, hunts, fishes & forages for all his food, and camps on the side of the road or on the beaches at night. Rain, hail, shine, or recently, while fleeing bushfires.
Hawk first thought of this challenge in January 2015 shortly after losing his niece to Leukaemia. After witnessing the devastating emotional, physical, and financial impacts this disease can have on families, Hawk wanted to help other families affected by Leukaemia any way he could.
He designed a challenge that was completely unique, and that reflected the long and difficult road leukemia patients and their families have to face day in and day out.
“I found that nobody had ever done this route previously and decided to do it in the hardest possible way I could – with a 50Kg pack and no support crew.” – Hawk, not doing things by halves
The 40,000+km walk is a mighty challenge filled with obstacles and dangers including close encounters with crocodiles in the North, sometimes wild weather, & extreme temperatures that threaten dehydration and heat stroke, but Hawk says he enjoys every day of it, even the hard ones – when they’re over.
“The toughest part is when I’m completely out of water. This happens regularly.”
“This is a beautiful, hard, and dangerous country which is trying its best to cook, starve, and dehydrate me,” he laughs, “but I’m enjoying the challenges it throws at me (at) every turn.”
Australia’s harsh and sometimes testing environments have been compounded by injuries along the way, most significantly a fractured ankle six weeks ago, then reinjuring it last week.
Anyone could be forgiven if walking with a fractured ankle down desolate dirt roads 8,000Km away from home forced them to call it quits, but Hawk’s focus and determination seem unbreakable.
“I don’t miss much of my life, as I have a huge goal that supersedes anything else now. I don’t even have to push for this, it’s just a natural progression at the moment to keep going.”
“I have learned you can do ANYTHING you put your mind to when you need to survive.” – Hawk
Hawk says that the hardships he faces are nothing compared to the pain & suffering Leukaemia patients go through.
“At least I can put my bag down. I can rest my aches, scratches, and fractures. Leukaemia patients can’t just put their pain down and take a rest from it on the side of the road.”
Apart from the satisfaction of doing good for others and achieving this monumental challenge, Hawk says one of the best things for him has been the amazing characters he’s connected with along the way, the things they’ve taught him, and the generosity of strangers who have donated food or drink.
“I have learned many things from the different aboriginal communities I’ve been through. I’ve been taught ‘bush tucker’ from some knowledgeable elders along the way, and even been given a traditional aboriginal name meaning ‘Happy Wandering Soul’.”
“I’ve also just met an amazing woman in Timber Creek NT and we are going to try to maintain some form of relationship.”
He walked into Kunnamurra sometime on Sunday 16th October, where he now plans to rest the body for a couple of days and assess the weather conditions, before continuing Westbound & Down along the coast of WA.
If you’d like to support his incredible effort – visit https://www.gofundme.com/8ad4nezw
(100% of all money raised will be split between the Leukaemia Foundation & AutismAustralia.)