Starting from Billiluna in the north near Halls Creek on 31 May 2013, Gaynor Schoeman walked solo for 66 days, carrying a backpack of 30kg, finishing 1657km later in the tiny outback goldfields town of Wiluna on 05 August 2013.
Gaynor was raising money for quadriplegic wheelchair rugby players under the banner Walk 4 Wheels and Walk 4 Wings in memory of hangglider pilot and friend, Bruce McClunan, who broke his neck on 1st April 2011.
Many class this walk as unsupported, done in the same way as the first successful walkers lead by Murray Rankin in 1976. Whilst I did not walk with vehicle support, or with another person, without the help of Andy Sutcliffe in establishing my supply route before the walk, and my food sponsors, this walk would not have been possible. For this reason I class my 2013 desert walk only as SOLO .... by my own standards.
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What's new? Western 4WDriver pubished a 6 page article entitled 'A Walker on the Canning'.
UPDATED 30 June 2015
Following my passion ...
In 2015 I return to Country, but this time by more traditional means. I will be driving a 4x4. Three to four months steeped in desert adventure ... learning more about the land ... and myself ... for the sheer joy of that experience.
With nothing to prove ... no stressing of body ... no urgent need to keep on moving to achieve a goal ... no destination ... just time to Be ... And let the desert in.
I have always wanted to do this ...
My journey is a continuation of a 5 year love affair with an area known as the Canning Stock Route in Western Australia. 1657km of arid land, red sand dunes, gorgeous sunsets, sunkissed spinifex, treacherous salt pans, curious dingoes, frisky camels, twittering birds and a string of ageing drovers wells in various stages of disrepair. I love this land!
So how did it go?
In wanting to learn more about it, I am exploring what this stretch of desert has to offer in the way food, how to recognise it, where and when to find it and will it be enough to sustain me on a future live-off-the-land desert walk between Billiluna and Wiluna?
Water is key. Can I find water over and above what is offered in the wells and springs? There are sections of up to 212km with no reliable source of water. The availability of surface water is very much seasonal and weather dependent. Learning where to find that surface water is what I will be doing in 2015.
In order to do all this, I have procured Les The Perentie, a 25 year old Land Rover to be my base, taking me to locations where I will hike out for a few days, a week or even two, accruing much needed desert survival skills. Les carries my emergency supplies of food, water and equipment.
Community, Traditional Owners and Ranger assistance and participation is paramount to success and like Les Hiddens, I will be seeking out the assistance, knowledge and guidance of the First People, learning from them what they are willing to share. I look forward to the experience.
Somewhere along the line, I hope to find my desert walking partner, someone far more skilled than I, to make a future live-off-the-land crossing.
My Fuel Sponsors for 2015 are friends, people who made this journey sector happen.
April - Wiluna: I arrived in Wiluna on the south end of the Canning Stock Route late March. Wiluna people of the the Birriliburu were absolutley amazing taking me under their wings and out on bush tucker day trips. I went out twice with families, mostly women and children I ate karlaya emu, marlu kangaroo, goanna, wild green beans, silky pear/bush banana and witchetty grub. I learned how to gut a goanna without a single incision, to scale it and cook it.
On the third day I went out with a group of men of all ages. They showed me parakeelya and pigweed, plants to eat when in need of water and we fished out yabbies from North Pool. Lawman Tim Petersen Long honoured me his skin name - BANAGA, in the company of Medicine Man Frankie Wangawol and men of all ages.
Tim and Frankie also gave me special permission to hunt on their lands, including Canarvon Range known to the Birriliburu as Katjarra. This was all recorded on video.
I departed from Wiluna 7 April 2015.Read more...