It seems my life overtook my writing for the past month and as a result left the story of The Long Walk Home unfinished and sitting in limbo. Although only 2 months since I walked into town it feels like years since I finished it, and yet I still get butterflies thinking about how wonderful it was out there.
Not wanting the story to finish on getting chased by camels, which by the way I came face to face with outside the Birdsville Hotel recently (I swear it was planning an attack on me), it is time to write the last part of the story.
Back to the red sand, golden spinifex and cold nights, the last part of the story is about the people and the landscape. When people think of the desert I assume most would think of a barren, empty pocket of land with minimal human encounters and little life. Quite frankly I think even I thought this to an extent before setting off. I don’t think you can truly understand what the Simpson Desert has until you see it from the ground.
The golden spinifex tops swaying in the wind against the red sand of the early morning as the sun reflects off it.The animal prints in the track proving they have roamed the area under moonlight, searching for food and patrolling their territory.
The look of frost on the sand as the sun strains to reach the dirt to warm it up. The sound of dingoes howling at night, or the noise of a little rat trying to steal parts of the bbq from right under your feet. The bitterly cold morning as you try and make yourself breakfast, the changing colours of the sand and the difference in terrain as you walk step after step.
The people of the journey also played a part in making it an experience to treasure. Meeting the son of a man who had walked it years ago and stopping for a chat with the hundreds of people that passed by. Hearing my parents plane closing in and having them drop chocolate care packages from the air, and running into a film crew whilst atop a dune.
Listening to stories of people who had used the services of the RFDS, and even meeting another walker will all stay with me. On that note a 14 year old boy was walking the desert also and by chance happened to start a few hours after me from Dalhousie Springs. When he caught up just before Peoppel’s Corner we learnt that his Dad had succumbed to blisters after the first day and that he was going it alone. I take my hat off to the young lad who after borrowing a pair of my gaiters to keep the sand out of his shoes, shot off like a rocket never to be seen again by us but making it to Birdsville in one piece.
The people with me on the journey, those who we met, and the natural life that we observed in the desert have made the experience what it is, and I thank each and everyone of you who has supported my walk and helped me to achieve something amazing.
I am forever changed by The Long Walk Home, and I hope that every person reading this feels proud about what you have done and I firmly believe that the fundraising is an achievement of the people not me. Together you have raised $36,714 for the Royal Flying Doctor Service, and should feel immensely satisfied that you have helped support a service that is integral to all of Australia including rural, remote, coastal and metropolitan areas. I guarantee you that you have just helped to save a life and you never know but it could be your own.
Nothing can prepare you for life and nothing could of prepared me for the beauty of what laid beyond the horizon of the desert. I am forever grateful that I took an opportunity to see it from the ground and at a snails pace. The beauty of watching the full moon rise over the horizon, the adrenalin rush of having a pack of dingoes a mere 40m behind me before even realising they were following, or the utter amazement of looking up and seeing Wedge-Tailed Eagles circling 5m above me as they rode the wind currents over the dunes will live with me forever. There are a lot of places in this amazing world of ours that can take your breath away and the Simpson Desert is just one of them. So wherever you are in the world don’t forget to stop and look sometimes or you might just miss them. After all losing one breath to a magnificent sight is worth it, and if I lost all my breaths to the beauty of the world then it would be a life well lived.
As I sit here and write thank you for the last time, I can feel the knot start to form in my stomach that signals the end of something great. Signing off from the people who have followed the journey is far more difficult than finishing the walk, and so just once more I say thank you for all that you have done for the RFDS and for me. I will treasure this experience forever.