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Do you live on the route?
It will be cooold in June in the places Mark is going! If any kind soul that lives along the route that Mark is following would like to accommodate Mark for a night during the walk, please contact Mark.
Fancy a stroll?
I am more than happy to have people join me for a day or two as I walk. If you feel like a day's walk through the  countryside, check out the route, pick a day that suits you and contact Mark.


Update 3


Sorry, I was unable to upload any of the photos that go with this episode.

 June 22:  Scarborough to Figtree (24km)
At seven in the morning, Chris, the bloke I was staying with, dropped me down to Scarborough to the point where I'd stopped walking the previous day (well, if the truth be told, it was actually 50 metres further down the road, but I won't tell anyone if you won't).

I bumped into a nice fellow called Paul as I passed through Thirroul (the town where I was born, don't you know), who took me in and fed me some Weet-Bix (did I mention that Sanitarium declined to sponsor this event?), before walking with me for a few K's. I left him at the beginning of Northern Wollongong's extensive seaside bicycle track, and spent the next few hours walking along the seaside into central Wollongong.

I soon discovered the pleasures of walking on grass! The cycle track passes through 15km of grassy park, and my feet were gasping with pleasure (well, okay, not complaining of pain quite so loudly) as I trod the soft blades all the way to Wollongong. I had an excellent (and as it turned out, free) lunch in the Blue Moon Beach Cafe, and marched into Wollongong in search of some cotton boxer shorts to relieve my incessant chaffing (they worked miracles, if you're interested).

Twilight saw me in Figtree (3km further south), where I was picked up by Peter Cahill, a local, and taken to his family home. We all had a bit of fun when the photographer from the Illawarra Mercury arrived and suggested that the best photo would involve me reclining on a big chair with the five family members pampering me from all sides.

And thanks David for letting me sleep in your room.

There's a photo of the gorgeous Cahill family in my photos section.

 June 23:  Figtree to Albion Park (25km)
After Peter dropped me back to Figtree, the morning passed uneventfully. The pain in my feet remained and showed little sign of passing anytime soon.

My first bad weather for the trip kicked in for an hour around nine (a cold headwind and moderate rain), but blew over after I stopped for a late breakfast.

I was joined for the last 8km into Albion Park by a lovely soul called Leslie, who walked with me and provided me with excellent conversation.

Three km before Albion Park a miracle occurred. Standing by the side of the road was Paul (from the Royal National Park and the last 20 years of my life), his wife Sherry and two-year-old daughter Taylor. They'd decided to spend the night in the area, and did I want to stay with them?

Does the pope shit in the Woods?!?

I finished the march into Albion Park limping slightly from the machinations of a muscle I never knew existed, and strode straight into the post office to collect my (extravagant pause) Nike Air running shoes that had been mailed to me from Sydney by my friend Greg. The boots and the sandals are going back to Sydney with Paul. Furthermore, Paul and Sherry are going to drop my pack in Robertson tomorrow so I don't have to carry it for a whole day! Yippee!

 June 24:  Albion Park to Robertson (25km)
This was supposed to be a good day. My running shoes would be sorting out all the problems in my feet, my pack would be magically waiting for me in Robertson, and I'd finally leave the coast and start getting up into the rural areas.

One out of three ain't bad.

I started out well, briskly marching down the road, until a small, normally well-behaved muscle behind my left knee brought me to a screaming halt after less than 90 minutes. Stretching, massaging, Dencorub - nothing would stop it cramping up. It was like a shin-splint, only round the back behind my knee, and it totally prevented me from straightening my leg. My walk became more of a waddle.

On top of this, my change of footwear had brought with it a generous and enriching new set of blisters. These kicked in after two hours. My stroll up Australia was reduced to a trudge up Australia, and eventually to a stagger up Australia. It was at about this time that I decided to revise my daily schedule to a slightly less ambitious pace of 25km per day. I'll be a couple of days late to Kosciusko, but at least I'll get there.

I'm sorry to be going on about my bodily aches and pains, but you have to understand - these issues pervaded my whole day. It becomes hard to concentrate on anything else - life, careers, spirituality, etc - when every step (only 80 every minute) brings with it a rather acute pain.

The day did have some joy. I had a marvellous climb up through the National Park to the top of the Macquarie Pass at Robertson (a height of 2,300 feet - nearly a third of the height of Kosciusko, don't you know). The view at the top was gratifying, and gave me a sense of accomplishment, even if I could see the town I started in not too far away below me.

Finally, I pulled into Robertson, collected my pack, and was picked up by my host for the evening, Roy, and taken home to enjoy a lovely home-cooked meal with his wife and son.

Just so you all know, until my leg and feet improve and I can start truly strolling (or even striding!), I'm going to try to carry my pack as little as possible. It does make the day so much more manageable, and I hope noone out there will begrudge me the relief it brings. Surely it's not cheating tooooo much....



The Cause

All monies collected on this walk will be donated to Mission Australia to care for the homeless.  To learn more about their work, visit www.mission.com.au
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The more people that know about this walk, the more successful it will be.



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