GWF 2012

Day 1

Well here we are again, off onto the cold and misty roads of country NSW. Today we walked from Bathurst to Tarana where the hospitality of the local pub and the freezing waters of the Tarana creek await. Last year we discovered through the wisdom of our currently injured Physio Cameron, that ice bath recovery was a great thing. So all day we walked away thinking about how good our muscles would feel after the burning sensation of the ice water on our sore legs.

It was a spectacular day, starting out very cold but clearing up to reveal the wide blue skies and long open roads ahead. Crossy started out early to get the start on us, Tony and Graham followed him out with about a 30 minute lead on the rest of us. Once everyone had eaten and feet strapped up we took to the road. All the fellas looked good at the start, fresh and despite nursing a few sore heads from the first night's activities took the road on with a smile on their face and enjoying each other's company. As the day winded on a few blokes started to tighten up in the legs and the hills became a bit tougher. We discussed the fact the Crossy was still nowhere to be seen and that perhaps his legs are not as bad from the double knee replacement a few years back as he makes out, and that the real ploy is to just start early and finish early and be the first to the pub. I guess we will continue to test that theory over the coming days. As it turned out we did indeed find him at the Tarana Hotel with a couple of familiar faces supporting us at the end of a long day. Thanks to Shane and his mate for driving all the way to Tarana to see us in.

This afternoon we had the pleasure of presenting a cheque to a very worthy organisation here in Bathurst called 'Head Space' which provides many areas of support for the youth of this region including mental health issues. The Great Walk Foundation is proud to be in a position to help great people such as this and the local newspaper turned up to record the hand over.

So now we have all had a rub down under the cruel hands of Greg and Trent and showered up, we can sit back and enjoy a few drinks at the Knickerbocker hotel and Scotty the publican's hospitality. Scotty supports us every year by taking us in for a couple of nights and feeding us, thanks Scotty.

Tomorrow we get dropped off back out to Tarana and take on the many hills all the way to Lithgow. In particular the massive winding hill coming out of Lake Lyell is a tough climb for everyone, so it will be good to see who gets to the top first. Keep following our daily diary for updates of our experiences on the road.

Day 2

Today we left Tarana at about 9am, the morning was not as cold as yesterday and Greeny even took off the jacket from the start and dealt with the cold air embracing the beautiful central west brisk air. We started as a team today and the plan was to walk as a group and hopefully everyone could keep the pace. However about 10km in Greg, Greeny, Wearny and Trent took on a few hills and set the pace. They faded into the distance and even had a few KMs of running to stretch their legs. There was plenty of hype within the group as a few of the boys signed up for the 2013 Port Macquarie Iron man event in twelve months time so the tone was set high!

As the day went on the road crew consisting of Wynn and Brett kept form with all the walkers passing Wynn as he took a few winks on the side of the road. He was busy swallowing flies so we didn't bother him. Brett was a little concerned as the the where abouts of Wynn and drove the length of the track looking for him. When Wynn awoke he had no idea what time it was and that all the walkers had passed him an hour ago, lol. Great stuff "support crew"... true to form.

We arrived in Lithgow a little earlier than expected and had a photo shoot with the local newspaper as we handed a cheque to The Lithgow Community Private Hospital to support funding for an early detection prostate machine. This again gave us great pride to be part of helping regional NSW with such worthy causes.

We always find a good laugh on the road helps us through our tough day. Greeny's lovely wife Jenny and daughter Sarah called to inform us that they took the dogs for a walk today, however the oldest dog is a bit beyond it so they decided to be fair and place the dog in the wheel barrow. Apparently a local identity who loves a few arvo drinks came out and saw the the dog in the wheel barrow deciding he had had too many for the day! Thanks girls, you are always good for a laugh.

In term of the days walking the man of the match today goes to Mark Mulock. As we headed up the massive hill coming out of Lake Lyell, Mark just gritted his teeth as always and put the foot to the pedal. He was up the hill so fast, with arms swinging harder than we have ever seen he looked like he was about to take flight... "a beautiful moment". A few of us decided that we were best to run and catch up but when we roped him in and started walking again he just drifted away again. It was easier to start running again than try and keep pace with The Mulock at full pace!

We have a few small injuries with Trent sporting a nice left foot (ironic) injury with mild swelling, and Rob Wearn having a minor chest infection that Tony is helping him with. This is why it's so great to have such a diverse range of expertise at our disposal on this event.

So tomorrow we leave Lithgow heading for Mt VIctoria and the haven of the Imperial Hotel. Dianne Azapardi and Jannine Ashbee are joining us for the day and I'm sure will gibe us plenty of laughs. The night at the Imperial is always a good one as we are a little closer to home and we get a few familiar faces turning up for a few drinks. Keep track of us on tomorrows diary as we expect rain tomorrow and that alway makes things interesting.

Day 3

Greg Nelson and I woke up early this morning after the disappointment of origin last night. We were looking for a coffee in Lithgow and walked across the highway to a small cafe. As we looked up we saw the most spectacular sun rise and as it dawned on us that it was bright red we knew the day was destined to be a tough one. "Red sky at morning sailor take warning"....

By the time Dianne and Jannine turned up to do the day of walking with us we were all strapped up and ready to go. Cameron McInnes also arrived who is our well loved team member and physio who had a horrific accident three months ago falling off his two story roof. He bravely fronted today to do the walk and get to work on rub downs at the end of the dayThe trusty road crew were feeling well (which is always a good sign) and Crossy had set out supper early as usual. We hit the road winding our way through the hospitable township of Lithgow to many waves and greetings. The streets were beautiful with gold and red leaves in full show, however the dark grey clouds loomed in the background like an angry warning of what was to come. The road wound up through the hills toward Hartley and as we took on the massive down hill heading into the valley below, all were in good spirits despite the temperature drop. We had asked the road crew to be on the job as soon as there was any sign of rain, however as the first fee drops fell we knew there would be a delay. I think most of us were drenched before they caught up with us to get the weather proof jackets into play. By then it really didn't matter as we were just covering up the wet clothes which made it feel like we were walking in a sauna with heavy rain falling for the rest of the day.

Reaching the historic Comet Inn at Hartley Vale, complete with Kangaroo at the bar was a small amount of respite. Jonathon Green ran ahead to use the facilities and found himself unable to enter. The lady who was there alone didn't like the look of him so denied him access to the pub. After a little of the Green magic she relented and let him in. As Jonathon stood in front of the fire, he was welcomed by a large dog at his back. As he turned to greet the canine he realised it was actually the resident pet kangaroo and nearly jumped out of his skin! She then kicked him out to meet us on the verandah so we had a little cover to take in a quick lunch before we got off road on to Lawson's Long Alley.

As we took on the dirt track we soon found that the footing was unstable as the rain had turned the track to mud. Greg, Rob, Trent, Cameron and Mark all took off quickly and set the pace today through the bush. Even having a short run at the end of the climb.

Tony Bowden had a spill today injuring his knee, however he bravely continued on and did us proud taling on the big hill through the bush that we all talk about throughout the week as one of the toughest of the walk.

The man of the match today goes to Cameron McInnes who was back in form up front after such an amazing recovery, Cameron you are truly a tough man and we are so happy to see you back to your usual self after the tough last few months. We would also like to say how special Cameron's wife Genevieve is in supporting him through this ordeal and keeping their life afloat, with the practice, house and three beautiful girls she was the angel he deserves.

Tomorrow we venture down the hill to our destination at The Grandview Hotel Wentworth Falls for a lovely night with the wives. Dougy Walters is said to be making an appearance so it will be a memorable night. Keep up with our daily diary and if you would like to donate to the cause please look up our bank details on the 'Donations' section of our front page. Hopefully the rain will clear in the morning.

Day 4

Today we woke to a blowy cold upper mountains morning. The wet weather yesterday placed a chill in our spines as we wondered what the day would hold. This walk is one of the biggest of the week. From Mt Victoria to Lawson is about 36km and if Mother Nature is not on your side it can be a grinding day.

As we set off there were a few sore heads trying to recover from our celebrations in making it to the top of The Mountain last night. A few of the walkers were pretty quiet as the kilometers wound by. Rob and I drifted to the front as we discussed the events of the walk. It’s been such a great week, with plenty of funny memories and moments filled with pain and laughter. Once we got off road the scenes were spectacular as we looked out over the Megalong Valley below. The wind was up and the clouds were thick and dark, and I think everyone was waiting for the heavens to open.

There were a few groups today, a couple out front and a few at the back, but everyone took on this tough day the best way they knew how. We explored new tracks, some good, some not so good but we regrouped at Leura for lunch. I explored a new track with Rob today that got us off the highway, which is always a bonus. As we decided it was a winner we decided to call the boys behind us to make sure they found it. As I walked along looking for a number to call depending on Rob to watch out for me, I felt my right foot enter an ankle deep puddle and soak through. Rob was laughing saying I should be watching where I was walking, however he knew who should have been watching… Anyway it dried out quick and I recovered. The track turned out to be a mud run so it was a good thing the boys didn’t get onto it.

Man of the match today goes to both Tony Bowden and Graham O’Kell for consistently grinding away and even though they lack the leg length advantage of most of the team, they always end up in the group. Today was a cold, tough day and they took it on with passion. Well played fells.

We are staying at the Grandview Hotel at Wentworth Falls tonight, the wives are joining us for a lovely dinner and hopefully some dancing if the music gets going. This is always a great night as it’s the last one on the road and we feel like we are close to home.

We want to thank everyone who has come out to support us so far and look forward to getting into the Lapstone Hotel tomorrow arvo at around 4pm, so feel free to trun up and have a drink with us.

Day 5

Today we set out with home on our minds. Last night we spent a great evening at the Grandview Hotel at Wentworth Falls with our families and friends. We ate, we drank and there was plenty of singing which kept the local entertained. The festivities fed our spirits knowing we had a long last day walking from Lawson to The Lapstone Hotel in Blaxland.

Right from the start, the upper mountains continued to throw it’s best at us. Windy and cold was the scene as we caught up with a few day walkers to take on the road with us. As we wound our way down the hill it was obvious to us all that home was not too far away with horns honking and arms waving at us from supporters of the Great Walk Foundation. Despite the very sore legs, this is the sort of stuff that brings you that second wind.

We reached The Pioneer Way Motel at Faulconbridge for a much needed lunch. The Pioneer Way crew always puts on a home made soup and a sausage sandwich for us, and its just what we need to get through the day. Along the way we had picked up a few more day walkers who’s presence is a breath of fresh air for all of us. A few of the guys had their sons meet us at Faulconbridge, which was heart warming for all of us.

We headed down the mountain after paying our respects to the much missed and loved Jimmy Small, one of our original members. We told a few funny stories about him, as he would have loved, which lightened our hearts for the last leg.

The wind seemed to push at our backs as hills appeared at our front and the further we travelled close to home the wind dropped away and the clouds opened, offering the sunlight to our faces. It was time to end this journey and celebrate the support we share with so many people. We banded together for the last few hundred meters, as we had done for the previous 170 kilometers. Our families and friends stood clapping and smiling, happy to see us home and safe. Knowing we had achieved another year of ‘The Walk’, we smiled at each other and nodded approval.

It’s moments such as these that make you understand why we do this every year. Not the cheers or the nods of approval, or even the smiles of our families and friends… It’s the fact that 9 blokes can get together and go for a big walk, bringing together a community who truly cares about each other. A community of people who in this toughest of economic times still dip into their pockets and help out those amongst us who are less fortunate. This is the reason we do it year in and year out, this is the reason why we stand, as a group at the end of this event and nod at each other in recognition of this amazing community we have all grown and lived in. Penrith and The Blue Mountains, well done!