Walk to Learn
If I could walk 500 miles… or at least 500km
Written by Kimberley Konisberry
If someone asked me whether I wanted to walk 520km, I would laugh before before going home to scrape the bottom of my Ben & Jerry’s 500ml tub of ice-cream.But not Alfred.In actual fact, it would have been Alfred that was asking the others, trying to get them on board. Alfred would have been the guy I laughed at – if he even asked me to participate in the walk to begin with. Sorry Alfred, it’s nothing personal.On the 30th of March, Alfred and his team are on a mission to walk 520km from Robe (in South Australia) to Bendigo (in Victoria). Whilst the team have personal interests for embarking on this journey – because in all honesty, what else would you call it apart from ‘crazy’ – they also want to use it as an opportunity to raise both awareness and funds for Free To Shine.Alfred, apart from being the husband of Deborah (one of Free To Shine’s committed team members), has many things to fill his time. Alfred works as a freelance administrator in workers’ compensation. When he isn’t at work, Alfred is active in the garden and cheering on the Melbourne Football Club.
A pretty average guy, you may think – especially seeing as though he backs Melbourne in the AFL. But Alfred is more than your average Joe. As a finacial supporter of the WWF and sponsor of a girl with Free To Shine, Alfred is a guy looking beyond himself. He understands that life is all-inclusive, and is keen to deepen his understanding of everything around himself.Cue the walk from Robe to Bendigo.Alfred’s interest in Robe and the vast amount of history surrounding it, first came about back in the rock ‘n’ roll era of the ‘80s. Alfred was holidaying in Robe when he stumbled across a plaque erected in commemoration of the Chinese gold diggers’ journey from Robe to Bendigo. Already interested in history – especially that of the Gold Rush era – Alfred went on to investigate the details behind what he had found. In the years that followed, Alfred has only been spurred on by his Chinese heritage and love for history – deciding to complete the walk himself to learn more about the history of townships along the way and their relationship with the gold rush era.An unconventional history lesson:I don’t know about you all, but I think a 520km walk deserves a bit of background information. And I for one, was curious about what inspired Alfred to undertake such a hike (ha ha). So here it is:When Australia began to be colonized in the early-mid 19th century, the only people interested in coming here were the English and Irish. Sure, some other nations were interested in Australia, but England were sending their criminals here – so at the end of day, it seemed pretty unappealing.By the mid-late 19th century a discovery was made that saw Australia (especially Melbourne) incorporated into bedtime stories – gold. The Gold Rush era attracted millions of people across the world to Australia. During this time, the then British Empire felt themselves superior (foolishly) and introduced a tax for non-whites entering the country to search for gold (the Chinese).All Chinese entering the Port of Melbourne after 1856 were forced to pay 10 pounds each by the Colonial Government of Victoria. And whilst that doesn’t sound like much money, back in Ye Old Days it was. Most families arriving were poor and desperate to escape to better conditions – they didn’t have the money to spare, nor in some cases, to even give.So began the tradition of Chinese travelling to Robe in South Australia (where no such racial tax at this time existed) and then walking 520km to the gold fields of Bendigo and Ballarat in Victoria.Yes, I know what you’re thinking. ‘’520km just to avoid paying 10 pounds? That’s a bit rough, isn’t it?”And the answer is yes – it was rough. Most of these Chinese had to work on farms along the way for food and shelter. And in some instances, they even settled on route. Whilst this was horrible at the time, it has created today’s burst of Chinese culture and heritage in some Australian towns.
So… Chinese and Cambodia? What?As I mentioned earlier, these people walked 520km to avoid paying 10 pounds, and to hopefully find gold. They were poor, yet determined – and quite frankly had no other choice. The girls on Free To Shine’s program don’t always have a choice either.The Walk to Learn is a walk designed by Alfred and his team to learn about the history of the townships and their relationship with the gold rush era. It is to fulfil their interest in history, and reach a level of self-satisfaction. For students on Free To Shine’s sponsorship program however, the want and need to learn runs parallel with their inability to do so.Like the Chinese gold-diggers in the 1800s, the girls on Free To Shine’s program (and their families) all endure economic hardship and poverty-stricken conditions. This limits a family’s ability to afford their child’s education – which in the 21st century is unacceptable. Just as the Chinese were determined in their quest to better their lives, all the girls on Free To Shine’s program are determined to finish school in order to better their own. All of the girls want to learn – just like Alfred and his team – but in this instance they need some support in order to do so.Understanding this, Alfred generously decided that Walk to Learn should be a journey for both him and the girls in Cambodia. Walk to Learn will raise donations and sponsorships to support Free To Shine in their mission to equip children with the tools to keep them in school. By equipping these girls with an education, Free To Shine reduces the likelihood of her and family being targeted by sex traffickers.So take some time to think about all of this.Absorb it.And then get on board.By sponsoring Alfred and his Walk to Learn, you are helping him and Free To Shine set others on their own journey through education.Walk to Learn – Day One8am. 13 degrees. Alfred begins walking.520km is a long distance, as is 34km – today's distance covered. Today marked the first day of Alfred's 520km journeyfrom Robe to Bendigo.Just to quickly recap, Alfred is to walk 520km over 16 days in an attempt to raise both funds and awareness for Free To Shine.
Day number one proved easier than expected. Alfred and his team left early morning with perfect walking weather – low temperatures and cloud cover. Whilst this seems like horrible weather to all of us at home reading, I am sure if we were out all day doing cardio we would quickly change our minds.By the halfway mark, Alfred had come across the day's highlight – a historic well built by Chinese gold seekers in the 1800s. It is easy to scoff at this finding and excuse it as insignificant, but to those enthused about Australian history it appears differently. And irrespective of our interests, if we were walking all day and stumbled across a well built in the 1800s we would be all astounded too – or at least eager to use it as an excuse to take a break.Reaching Penola in the afternoon, Alfred and his team remain in great spirits and readily await tomorrow's leg of the walk. Whilst I sit here updating you all, I can only hope Alfred has a country parma on his plate and cold drink in his hand.Until tomorrow.Take a Walk on the Wild Side – Alfred’s Walk, Day 2Day Two.I know what you’re thinking, ‘He walked over 30km two days in a row?’ Yes, yes he did. And here’s what happened:Alfred and his team rose with the sun yet again, and set off towards Penola before we were probably even out of bed. I know yesterday I said he had arrived in Penola already, but I was wrong. Apparently it is unreasonable to expect even Alfred to walk 21 hours straight.So on the road once again to Penola!
This time it wasn’t wells that captured Alfred’s attention. Halfway between Robe and Penola, Alfred and his team stumbled across the historical Kangaroo Inn. Funnily enough though, the inn got next to no business from the Chinese gold seekers. This wasn’t because of the fear they held of kangaroos (which probably wasn’t any), but because they feared that they would be apprehended by government officials for being illegal immigrants. That’s right, Alfred is learning on his Walk to Learn.But day two revealed something other than historical treasures. Already people in the towns along the way are beginning to show their support. Alfred’s support team were grocery shopping in Penola, when they came across a woman who was very enthusiastic about Walk to Learn. Knowing of the Chinese gold miners and Alfred’s walking route, she wrote a note for the walkers using the Chinese phonetics for good luck. A big thank you to Rach for showing Alfred and his team support!And so as another day comes to a close, Alfred perhaps begins to question what he has set out to do. But then again probably not – he did technically receive a note from an admirer, just sayin’.If you want to support Alfred and Free To Shine, please feel free to visit the link below:Everything Good (or is it bad?) Comes in Threes….5km down the road somewhere, the support vehicle waits for Alfred and his team to reach them. For the support team it is simply a matter of sitting and waiting, but for Alfred it is a matter ofwalkingthere. To Alfred, the support vehicle is the only thing between him and his destination – and the only thing supplying him with the food and water he needs to make it there.But this isn’t a tale of desperation (although it might have been if I was walking the 520km myself).By meeting the team every 5km, the support van gives Alfred the chance to grab some water and a snack on his journey. Just like the water boys at the Tour De France, the support team are there to ensure all participants are pulling through okay – even if that means offering up a band aid here or there.To Alfred the support van in the distance signifies another 5km has been done and dusted (that was a pun on the country terrain). Yesterday his enthusiasm at seeing it for the last time for the day even inspired a small happy dance. Perhaps he isn’t walking far enough… He sure didn’t look tired.
….But maybe, just maybe he will after today. Day three has been the warmest day yet as the mercury stretched to the mid-20s. Equipped with his hat like any good little boy or girl has beentaughtto wear in the sun, Alfred and his team set off for Penola.On the road this morning Alfred and his team were greeted by local deer farmer, Jeff Varcoe. Jeff drove out to meet the walkers to share their mutual interest in the traditional Chinese gold-digger route. Settling in Penola in the 1850s, Jeff’s family history was able to confirm two stories for Alfred.Yes – Chinese gold seekers had indeed carved markings on trees along the route. This was done in an attempt to let those following know which farmers were friendly, and which were not so quite.And yes – It is true that upon falling severely ill, a Chinese gold seeker was cared for by a gamer until he was healthy enough to continue walking. What is more, is that years after never knowing what became of this man, a box of silks arrived from China… a thank-you from a man who never forgot.Movingright along, this afternoon Alfred and the teamwalkedtheir way right into Penola. It is here at the Royal Oak Hotel that Alfred and his team will be recuperating before tomorrow’s trek. Whilst some are suffering badly from blisters, the wonderful support from locals will give them the strength to get out of bed and get going tomorrow morning.Four for FiveIf you feel you missed day four, you didn’t! Everyone needs a Saturday off… I was referring to myself there. Alfred and his team have walked yesterday and today whilst I’ve been here working and sleeping. So perhaps I best get to updating you on that…Day four mimicked day three, two and one. They walked.
The morning of the fourth day saw Alfred’s wife, Deborah, head back to Melbourne for work. The pair said their goodbyes, and will be reunited three days before Alfred is expected to arrive in Bendigo. No more distractions for a while now, Alfred!Whilst day four did resemble the previous three days a great deal, something quite special did happen. Rachell (re-Penola supermarket and Chinese phonetics – day two) was checking in on Walk to Learn’s progress when she discovered the team members were short a high visibility vest. Rachell immediately offered her deceased father’s vest for our team to wear! If this isn’t an example of what is right in the world, then I really don’t know what is. It just goes to show help comes in all forms, from all different people.Night brought good news – 25% of the walk was now done. D. O. N. E.Whilst Alfred is one of two who remain uninjured (I asked how one can injure themselves walking and it turns out you actually can), the whole team remain positive having crossed the Victorian border.And then… they woke up to 5 degrees this morning – day five. Is it wrong I laughed at that? I mean, I received that message and actually laughed. I’m not sure if it was a sympathy laugh either – it could have very well been a hysterical, ”stuff that!” laugh. In saying that, it did reach 21 at some point during the day, so they did end up catching a few warm hours.Day five remained pretty uneventful (perhaps because Deborah wasn’t present? Hmmm…), but I am happy to announce Alfred and his team have made it to Casterton. 34km was covered today. At end of it, they got to know that Casterton is the home of the Kelpie – and so they (and we) continue to learn on this Walk to Learn.And as I sit here in bed writing this, a cup of tea by my side, I can only hope tomorrow won’t be as chilly. For the team too.A Roll of the Die Showed Number 66 days into 16 and Alfred is still smiling. How? Just how?Day 6 brought the team another 34km trek under the great Australian sun. The only relief today came at the 18.7km mark – when the team stopped to take lunch. The little shade on offer was barely enough to help the walkers relax, but the company of a special fella seemed to do the trick.
Rocky made an appearance at lunch. Despite his hostile demeanor, Rocky was quite friendly and gave the team something to preoccupy their thoughts. I have a sneaking feeling he wasn’t simply there for support however… perhaps more-so to see if he could sneak a bite of whatever was being served to the humans.Back on ye road, Alfred and the gang were intercepted by a family living near the walking trek. Originally from Gippsland and with family connections to Casterton, the family had decided to come and greet the walkers having heard about the amazing work they were doing. After almost 6 days of walking 34km in a row, this meet & greet lifted spirits and gave the team a break from looking at each other’s faces. I feel it also gave them a break from hearing the laughter of one’s own jokes too, but again, this is just speculation.What I know for sure on the other hand, is an afternoon/nightly ritual that is helping Alfred and his team. After every day the guys will submerge their feet in ice cold water in an attempt to reduce the swelling. Not only are the team trekking from Robe to Bendigo, they are now completing the ice bucket challenge daily! What a crew!The team have now arrived in Coleraine and will set off once more, tomorrow morning.7 C’s (of Alfred’s Walk)From sea to shining sea, or as Alfred likes to walk – Coleraine to Cavendish.Day 7 begins.After a home cooked meal last night, Alfred and his team we were ready to stroll another 34km today. Last night – for the first time along the journey – the team stayed in self-contained accommodation. Whilst this may sound frivolous to some, anyone who has travelled for more than a week understands the value in self-contained accommodation. I mean, I love take out – gosh do I love it. But the novelty of eating out/not cooking washes off quite quickly when you rely on it… and the want for your mum’s Sunday roast becomes almost unbearable at times.
Well, last night Shing and Henry cooked the team a little home-made comfort food – canton sauté chicken with vegetables. The team devoured it eagerly (much like teenagers shovel food in after they’re home from school), and utilized the many comfy lounges for the rest of the night. So! It is no wonder why this morning the team were still in high spirits.Today was warmer than many of the others. At 8am it had already hit 17.3 degrees, by the afternoon it had reached 26. For the team this meant revising their sun safety lessons – hat, sunglasses and sunscreen. Between them, I think they managed to remember.Further along into the day, the team battled a very long uphill stretch. Despite this, Alfred was still smiling. How? In any sense, can someone please call Colgate and let them know I found them a new brand ambassador?Arriving in Cavendish, Alfred and his team discovered more local Chinese history: Hong Sips Bridge. But unfortunately that’s all for day 7 everyone. I do have a call out to give, however. If you are near Alfred and the team, please come and meet them! They are approaching the halfway mark and would love some encouragement from you all. Other than that, I will talk to you (or blog) to you tomorrow.”On the first part of the journey, I was looking at all the life”On the first part of the journey, Alfred and his team covered 268km over a total of 8 days. Were they looking at all the life along the way? Quite possibly. And here’s something that makes me say so:Today was the first day of rain. With the rain came cool temperatures, and a cloud blanketed sky. But if you’re anything like these guys, rain isn’t enough to ruin a day outside (walking). That’s because they all hold the value of life being beautiful and finite. So when in the morning Alfred came across ‘…a horse with no name’, he did stop to ‘look at all the life’. Take a look:
Charging through the sentimental stuff (we are halfway through this journey people!), I can do my job properly and update you on today’s events. On the bulletin for today we have:
- ‘WALKERS STOP TRUCK IN ITS TRACKS’
- ‘RAIN RAIN GO AWAY, COME AGAIN ANOTHER DAY’
- ‘COUSINS SURPRISE WALKER IN DUNKELD’
- ‘ROYAL SHOW COMES TO DUNKELD’
What shall we start with? How about we take it from the top…WALKERS STOP TRUCK IN ITS TRACKSIt was a cold and cloudy day, when a truck was travelling down an open road. It wasn’t until he saw high visibility vests that he stopped – men. Men heading towards Dunkeld. But why? Where was their car? What were they doing?Having seen one of these men approaching his truck, he wound down the window. A small man of a tiny build and medium height looked in at him.”What are you all doing here? Do you need a ride?” The driver had already dismissed the men as being a threat, and decided it was only proper to offer them a ride.”We’re walking”. Well, that was obvious.*Please note the above even did not happen exactly like this. But a truck did stop and ask the walkers what they were doing.RAIN RAIN GO AWAY, COME AGAIN ANOTHER DAYIt was raining. Always raining. Water seeped into both the soles of their shoes, and into the souls of their inner beings. When would it stop? Would it stop? Would they make it to Dunkeld in time to dry themselves off before bed?*Please note this is a dramatization of real events. It rained on and off all day. The walkers seemed largely undeterred.COUSINS SURPRISE WALKER IN DUNKELDHaving walked 32km that day, and 268km overall, Alfred was tired. Alfred was tired and sore. He wanted food, water and sleep. It wasn’t until he stumbled into Dunkeld that his mind and body was shocked into awareness – his cousins were in front of him!Was it a mirage? Possibly.And then they spoke. No. Definitely not a mirage. Oh how the universe could be queer!*Whilst the details of Alfred’s state of wellbeing are quite the opposite of the truth, he was in fact happy to see his cousins. It did lift his spirits immeasurably.ROYAL SHOW COMES TO DUNKELD
Ladies and gentlemen! Step right up, step right up to witness the unbelievable and the fantastic. The lucrative and the defeated. I have for you today a very special surprise. One of joy and one of fear. I present to you – to Walk to Learn team!As a special treat for our audience today, goodie bags will be presented promptly! These will include: a water bottle, home-made apple cake, chocolate crunchies and a healthy forest fruit bar. Enjoy them whilst they last my darlings, and enjoy the rest of the show!*These show-bags were not, and are not for an audience. Please note that these show bags were actually given to Alfred and the team by his cousin Annette. The support driver Denise was also supplied with one. But please do enjoy the rest of the show, for we are officially half way through the entertainment.Let’s Do (it)Written by: Kimberley KonisberryI want to begin today’s combined blog post a little differently. If you are have been following Alfred’s Walk to Learn thus far – thank you. If you are just joining us now – welcome. I know what Alfred and his team are doing is respected by most – some of you follow his progress, some simply acknowledge the walk – but what far too few of us is feeling by this walk is inspired.Inspiration is an emotion reserved by most for amazing films, sporting moments, technological advancements, music, theatre, art, travel… Inspiration for many of us needs to be sought after. I often find myself chasing inspiration – an emotion I otherwise ignore for days, weeks, months and years at a time. Why? Why, when Alfred and Walk to Learn are giving us a reason to be inspired? Alfred and his team are giving us a reason to be motivated, to be daring and for once in our lives believe that it is possible. Alfred and this walk are an inspiration… and today I’m going to show you why you should sure as hell let it inspire you.Paris to Amsterdam is 510 km.1000 laps of the MCG is 470km.The Boston Marathon completed 12 times is 506km.Robe to Bendigo is 520 km. Alfred after today has walked 336km.Let’s just let that sink in. Alfred will walk the distance of Paris to Amsterdam, to help girls in Cambodia stay in school and out of the reach of sex traffickers. Alfred. A middle-class man from Melbourne, Australia.
Yesterday Alfred walked 34km in mild weather, today he walked 34km more. As day 9 and 10 have come to a close, the team are starting to hurt both physically and mentally. The team however, encourage one another to remain focused and keep going. They will all reach their goal, and they will all get there happy and together.The last two days have brought mental relief as people begin to join the Alfred and the team in various stages of the walk. It was just yesterday that Alfred walked alongside a tourist couple for a while, and explained to them the beautiful cause for which he is raising money. Annette and Simon also joined the walk yesterday, today Stephen and Anna joining in. Cars have even been stopping, asking about the walk and Free To Shine.‘’I Dare Ya’’Written by: Kimberley KonisberryLadies and gentlemen, day 11 of Alfred’s 16 day journey from Robe to Bendigo if officially complete!If you weren’t feeling the pressure to go for a short stroll yourself, I advise you to do so now. In fact now that Alfred has 5 days left of Walk to Learn, I challenge you all at home to walk a total of 35km over the next 5 days. Show your support for Alfred and Free To Shine by posting photos of you out walking on Free To Shine’s Facebook page with the hashtags: #itstartswithyou and #walktolearn. Why not even post the photos on your wall, with a link to Alfred’s campaign page? It can’t hurt, right?Now! Back to our update!Day 11 saw the mercury climb to a sunny 19, whilst beginning the day at a mild 9.1. With Alfred and the team setting their eyes on Avoca, a stroll through Ararat was in order at the 9km mark.Ararat – for you all at home – is a small town 198km west of Melbourne that exists to date purely because of the Gold Rush in 1857. Ararat prospered because of the mining boom (it is easy to see how when 16, 000 Chinese gold seekers would have passed through at some point), but has since settled down reaching the turn of the century. For Alfred and his team, you could say they hit gold in their quest to learn about the Chinese gold seeker history. Get it? They hit gold? Okay, I’ll (try to) stop now.By the time the team reached Avoca in the afternoon, they had strolled, dawdled, dilly-dallied, sauntered, stride, hiked and staggered a total of 33km for the day. For you all who aren’t great at maths (so, more so my benefit than yours), Alfred has now walked a total of 369km! Only 151km to Bendigo and dare I say, a good night’s sleep.A Dozen Days in the DirtAs the sun sets on day twelve of Walk to Learn, I am happy to announce that Alfred’s hair is no more whiter than when he started – and nowhere near as white as Steve Martin’s (Cheaper by the Dozen vs. a dozen days walking? Anyone? Yeah?)This morning started at a chilly 9.9 for our team, and climbed to a beautiful 21 before 2pm. And yet before the sun had even risen, Alfred was awake. At 4:45am this morning Deborah received a message from Alfred via her family’s online thread. Concerned the walk had finally gotten to him, Deborah messaged immediately asking if he was OK. To her relief Alfred had simply responded, ‘’I’m fine! But now is time to do some work!’’.Time to do some work… at 4:45 in the morning. Alfred you’re so crazy.Speaking of this crazed man (perhaps he is Steve Martin?), Alfred’s energy has if anything increased over the past few days. He is never seen without a smile on his face, and is always happy to stop for a chat with locals and visitors near the walking path. Good on you Alfred. And on that note, today we have more news bulletins coming out of FTS headquarters. They are as follows:
- ‘FRESH FRUIT GIVES WALKERS STRENGTH’
- ‘FAMILIES REUNITED AS WALKERS ARRIVE IN AVOCA’
- ‘MOTEL ENSURES ELDERLY ARE SAFE’
- ‘CHINESE GRAVEYARD AND GARDEN EVOKES IN AVOCA’
FRESH FRUIT GIVES WALKERS STREGNTHTrudging into Elmhurst, the walkers begin to ponder how they will soon have to see a doctor – they haven’t eaten an apple a day for a while now. Passing a local hotel, they see a woman emerge as if to greet them. She did greet them. She introduced herself as Julie. Julie from Elmhurst. She began asking about the walk, and then stopped… they hadn’t had an apple? They hadn’t had an apple a day in a long time? Julie immediately handed out fresh apples from local trees. Success – no doctor today or tomorrow will be required.*Please note Julie was generally interested in Walk to Learn and not the team’s eating habits. She offered them locally grown apples as a welcome gift.FAMILIES REUNITED AS WALKERS ARRIVE IN AVOCAIn a small town known to few as, ‘Amphitheatre’, Deborah and Alfred reunited. Not only did Deborah and Alfred reunite, but the people of Amphitheatre celebrated this beautiful moment by handing them money commenting on their ‘young love’.*Please note money was not handed to Deborah and Alfred because of their young love. A woman trustingly handed Deborah money on behalf of Amphitheatre to support Alfred and Free To Shine.
MOTEL ENSURES ELDERLY ARE SAFENewsflash! The world isn’t as dire as we all think! That’s right ladies and gentleman, we have another stunning example of humanity! Avoca Motel owners have renovated their garage to become a breakfast room for the elderly, having noticed many guests skipping meals after taking medication. These guests would then very often proceed to drive as far as Melbourne to meet medical appointments. As concerned motel owners, they renovated a garage into ‘The Wreck Shed’ – a communal shed where people can share bread, butter and jam before continuing on their way.*This a 100% true story.CHINESE GRAVEYARD AND GARDEN EVOKES IN AVOCAAn international studies student interested in Walk to Learn has come forward and assumed the title of tourism expert. Calling Deborah, Free To Shine’s honorary tour guide explained the restored Chinese cemetery, garden and it’s attached racist history. After walking through the Chinese Garden (erected to honour those who passed away in Avoca), the walkers were saddened to see the worn grave stones of those deceased. It is for them, for who they now walk to Bendigo with such purpose.Press, Pies, PaceDay 13 out of 16 people! If you weren’t with us before, I sure hope you are with us now. Day 13 of 34km a day walking, early morning starts and dusty roads. That’s 13 days of walking with the same group of people and hearing the same joke about Randy’s mum on Christmas Day. Not funny Randy, not funny.Starting at a chilly degrees, the mercury climbed to 19 degrees as the team left Avoca and headed towards Maryborough. But the day was not without incident. The team was held up in Avoca, and then deserted in Maryborough when Alfred decided that he was too much of a celebrity for them. You read that right Alfred had two – count them two – press interviews today.Hearing of Walk to Learn when Alfred checked into his motel, the owner contacted the local Avoca press. This saw Alfred being interviewed bright and early in Avoca, by journalist Johann Westin of the Pyrenees Advocate. Whilst his team where no doubt near by tapping their feet, Alfred took his time enjoying his newfound (?) stardom.
His second interview came about when he arrived in Maryborough. The Maryborough Advertiser was lucky enough to snag an interview with Alfred after he had just trekked 33km. This time the team would have been no doubt secretly chuckling at him, as they took off their walking boots and sat back on the couch. I can only imagine that they looked at each other and said, ‘’now this is funnier than Randy’s mum at Christmas!’’ (Re: intro joke).Apart from the press, today exhibited croc pies (weird I know) and more examples that humanity exists. For everyone who hasn’t tried a croc pie, they can be found in Avoca. For everyone that doubts whether kind people still exist – they do. Today the owner of Wattle Grove Hotel sponsored Alfred and showed their support of Free To Shine by publicizing Walk to Learn on their social media sites. If that didn’t give you hope, I don’t know what else to tell you.The Mind of a WalkerDay 14 passed by largely uneventful. The team simply woke to 10 degrees and headed towards Maldon.What I want to focus on today is ‘the mind of the walker’. Having trekked nearly 500km, it’s about time to ask these guys their secrets surrounding their determination and resilience. Below is an exclusive interview conducted by Free To Shine’s very own, Deborah Rosenberg. And by interview, I mean one specific question was asked…‘’How do you pass time?’’The team members responded:‘’We sometimes recite Chinese poems either to ourselves or out loud. We also discuss religion, our families, travel, our jobs and reminisce about what our lives were like growing up in Hong Kong’’.Alfred (as team leader) responded:‘’I have three main things on my mind as I walk…. Firstly – ensuring that the daily kilometre target will be met. This is very important as we can’t fall behind nor ill-complete our 520km walk. Secondly – that all walkers are observing the road and safety practices. Because I generally stay at the front of the group I can easily alert the others to oncoming traffic. This is important as huge trucks are becoming a regular occurrence as we near Bendigo. Thirdly – I try to imagine the environment as it would have been in the 1850s when the original Chinese walkers would have experienced it… I imagine them with their heavy loads and inadequate shoes.
But there are also other things I think about. I also think about the path we are following and if it is correct. It’s important we walk the right route and head in the direction of our support vehicle. Once we’re there I then need to ensure we don’t linger… I know we must rest, but it is important we remain on time. When I am not thinking about any of those things, I think about the day ahead… and about what needs to be done before we sleep that night’’.Lots of LeisureDay 15.Day 15 out of 16.That is 1 day off finishing Walk to Learn (for those who aren’t good at maths) and 2 days from a mammoth sleep in.I must admit I am happy to say there is only one more day to go. I know the walkers have walked their butts off – but my finger tips are sore from writing! No, but in all seriousness I so proud of Alfred and his team. They way in which they have handled the past two weeks of continuous movement and lack of creature comforts has been outstanding. If that were a group of young adults or dare I say adolescents, I am sure many would have ended up hitch hiking their way to Bendigo (or lying in a ditch somewhere).Covering over 500km is a feat not many attempt and I am honoured to have been here (yes, I know I am behind a computer and not physically present). Congratulations to the team and I hope tomorrow you take your time completing the rest of your journey.
As for today’s recap there isn’t a whole lot to say. Because of the vast distances covered earlier on, Alfred only had to walk a ‘measly’ 22km today. The petite daily target set the mood and by lunch the team were able to sit leisurely and enjoy their food.This by no means Walk to Learn has diminished as an educational journey, however. Today, if I say so myself, was probably the most insightful of the entire journey thus far (and with one more day to go, who trip). Steve, owner of the Maldon Holiday Cottages was kind enough to spend time with Alfred and the team and point out historical markers left by the Chinese back in the 1850s. *As a side note I am highly impressed he knew the following*.Steve pointed our Chinese scrubs. Ha. Okay, no stay with me. Steve pointed out Chinese scrubs, and explained how it was one of the first plants to regrow after the land was excavated in an attempt to find gold. See… there was more to that sentence. Who would have knew? I personally probably would have kicked it out of my way, in order to get to the support van quicker…But wait, there’s more.Steve also pointed out Chinese mine shafts to our diggers (what a pun), and emphasised their parabolic entrances. *I googled that quickly. I knew I remembered the term parabolic from something… it was my maths class. A parabolic entrance means a curved entrance… the shape of a U*. Apparently the Chinese miners had a completely different technique to that of the European and were quite successful in their quest for gold as a result.And there we have it! As day 15 comes to a close I urge you all to join Alfred and the team at Joss House tomorrow, in Bendigo. The walkers will arrive between 1 and 1:30pm. If you are busy, or can’t make the journey I once again urge you to show your support my sponsoring Alfred by clicking the link below.Until tomorrow!Fabulous FinaleWritten by: Kimberley KonisberryLadies and gentleman, boys and girls – Walk to Learn has come to an end. And what an end it was!Day 16 of Walk to Learn was a beautiful and sunny 26 degrees. As Alfred and the team arrived in Bendigo at around 2pm, they were welcomed by their families, friends, press and Councillor Peter Cox. Fabian Reid – someone who walked the same route in 2001 – made an appearance too. And with an interview with ABC Central Victoria tomorrow, Alfred – I daresay – will not get the good sleep he deserves just yet.
Over 500km in 16 days – a massive accomplishment by a group of ordinary men, inspired by one extraordinary piece of history. Walk to Learn was a historical walk from Robe (South Australia) to Bendigo (Victoria). Dubbed, ‘Walk to Learn’, the 16 day journey saw Alfred go beyond uncovering the historic mysteries left by the Chinese in the late 1800s. The walk pushed all involved to both their physical and mental limits. Alfred and his team not only learnt about the historical origins of Chinese in Australia, but also learnt about their own capabilities, endurance and determination.
Despite having embarked on this journey for his personal interests, Alfred utilized Walk to Learn as an opportunity to raise both funds and awareness for Free To Shine. As of today, Alfred has raised over $3500 for Free To Shine! To break this down for you all at home, this is enough to:
- Enrol 12 girls, or
- See 3 house builds, or
- Provide 800 family visits for girls on our program, or
- Provide 180 water filters, or
- Provide 163 school uniforms
By sponsoring and supporting Alfred and his Walk to Learn, you have helped Free To Shine set others on their own journey through education.A big thank you to all of those involved, from the support van, to friends and family at home, to the strangers on the street who stopped and gave these walkers their time. Alfred has been an inspiration for everyone out there not knowing how to help. And for us at Free To Shine…. He is the proof that people care, and they’re on our side.To Alfred!