Starting from Billiluna in the north near Halls Creek on 31 May 2013, Gaynor Schoeman walked1657km solo for 66 days, carrying a backpack of 30kg, finishing on the 05 August 2013 in the tiny outback goldfields town of Wiluna.
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.
Timeline for Canning Stock Route Cyclists, Walkers and other Notables.
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. For Media interviews on TV, Radio, in Newspapers and Magazines ~ click on this link
My choice is to give those who have achieved something noteworthy on the Canning Stock Route, the opportunity to tell their story in their own words, especially if written well and with detail, as is the case with David Chudleigh. Additional research focusing on track conditions in the 1960's will be presented in a second article to be linked to this one in a few days.
David Chudleigh: "This story describes a holiday journey in two four-wheel drive vehicles along this stock route and the retracing of some of the early surveying and exploring associated with the area.
As the journey was a private venture the main problem was that of fuel. Experience had shown that four-wheel drive vehicles, operating under adverse sand-ridge conditions, returned about 6 mpg. Map distance along the route scaled approximately 1,000 miles; therefore planning had to allow for a speedometer distance well in excess of this figure, so about 200 gallons per vehicle would be needed, in order to allow a fair safety margin.
A quick trip from Canberra to Halls Creek via Alice Springs and Tanami enabled one drum to be taken 200 miles down the stock route to Well No. 48. With the co-operation of the native welfare officers from Woomera, some more fuel was deposited at Well No. 35 approximately half way along the route. Another drum was taken out to Well No. 24 via Balfour Downs and then the journey itself commenced from Wiluna in July, 1968.
The party consisted of myself, fellow surveyor R. Wenholz from Queanbeyan, N.S.W., and N. Kealley from Perth, W.A., a man sufficiently interested in the desert to take his long service leave for the trip. Vehicles used were short wheel base Landrovers with 7.50 x 16 highway tread tyres and extra fuel and water tanks, a two-way radio was hired from Perth and the Royal Flying Doctor base at Port Hedland used to cover any emergencies.
Food was selected with consideration for weight, staple diet being salted meat and damper, thereby reducing weighty tinned stuffs. A Wild T2 theodolite was included for astro fixes, more from the hobby point of view than anything else.Read more...
It has taken awhile for me to get around to writing about Day 8, not because there was anything particularly difficult to write about, but because I had a wobbly with depression and dove off into the deep end. It happens and I deal with it the best I can, usually by removing myself from reactive stimuli like Facebook and People.
Day 8 was overcast and cold with low clouds on the distant mountains. My body, specifically my legs, felt like liquid lead. A number of people found Day 8 to be one of the most difficult from a recovery and fatigue point of view. During my 2013, 1657km desert hike, I would plan (it did not always work out that way) for a rest day on the seventh day to give my muscles time to replenish their energy stores. There is no rest day on the Tankwa Camino. It is ten days straight walking and this amount of energy output catches up with a person.
Today I chose, on occasion, to walk through the Karoo bush on the side of the road taking photograph’s of lots of unusual Karoo plants, including the Bushman’s Candle and Vygies. When you look closely, the desert flora has a great deal of variety to offer. Arid conditions have kept these plants small and unlike any other, so take the time to stop and smell the flowers after the rains and marvel at the unique flora of the Tankwa Karoo.Read more...
When I came back from the Rwandan Refugee camps in Goma, Zaire, I was to say the least, stressed. In fact, I was rushing headlong into full blown Post Traumatic Stress Disorder, which would consume my life for the next seven years and leave permanent scars. In the months immediately after Rwanda, I typed up my diary as a way of debriefing myself, for there was no-one I could talk to at the time who might understand what I was going through, and then I went on to writing it into novel form in the third person, the content simply too raw for first person. I needed to distance myself whilst at the same time I needed to express what was tearing me apart. When I was ready, I turned my attention back to my Rwandan Diary and improved upon it. There are events that I have not talked about. Matters of the heart, both in love and family. These remain raw and unwritten. There are years of post-Rwanda trauma that I cannot remember. Parts of my life are simply blank.
My second month in the camps is not written up either. By then I had found someone I could talk to in the refugee camps, who understood what I was going through for he was going through it too. Most evenings I would download verbally what I had seen and experienced and his cynical soldiers perspective and Irish humour would de-activate my angst and I would find myself laughing at the most painful of recollections. We clung to each other for years after the event in what I can only describe as a modern day Romeo and Juliet relationship. We could not be together, but our souls did not understand the reason for the divide. Finally I had to make a permanent break in order to make an effort to put my life back on track.
I never finished the novel. As with all my other writings I get about halfway and then I am off on another adventure. I also realise that my writings are not good enough for professional publication, but found that writing helped to ground me in a time when I was losing my mind and I was so alone in a very dark world. The writings had purpose and I have continued with this practice my whole life, which has, for the most part, remained solitary. Here are two options for you to read - Rwanda - A Novel Attempt and A Rwandan Refugee Aid Workers Diary.
As the Irish kept reminding me in absurdity - TIA. This is Africa. Remember. What you are seeing is normal for Africa. So don't stress. Just do what you can.
Below is a Timeline focusing primarily on foot powered achievements on the Canning Stock Route:
Some made it. Some didn’t. Some came back for more.
Typical traverse times:
4WD and 2WD - 3 weeks
Motorbike - 10 days
Bicycle - 33 days
Walking/Running 1-3 months, depending on support or not
2016 foot powered events: There is a solar powered Fat-bike on the Canning Stock Route about to complete its crossing. See Solar shift on Facebook for updates on 21 year old Sam Mitchell's ground breaking journey.Read more...
I have a story to tell. In fact I have several.
Book One: Every Step of the Way
This is my first attempt at publishing a book. There is only one way I can write and that is from the heart. It is not in my nature to provide a glossed over recreation of how I would like things to have been. Nor am I pretending to be anything that I am not. There is no learning, no discovery in that. And my life is all about discovery and personal transformation. Is my story inspiring? Not in the commercial sense, I don't think. But I am not going for commercial. My story is real. Real life. And it swims in darkness from time to time.
Desert Diary is a journal record of my 66 day walk on a daily basis. This is to establish credibility. It is a story I want to tell now rather than later: What was it like for a city woman to walk across a desert alone, the realities and the 'why' of it, something so many people ask?
Once I have written up these days,Read more...