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MCG - SCG Walk 2.0

Updated: Dec 13, 2023

Days 3 to 7 of Yatra: Mount Martha to Sorrento to Queenscliffe to Geelong to Ballarat


As indicated earlier, I had issues with connecting the laptop to the internet and consequently, I could not share with you my daily walk experience. On last Saturday, 2 December 2023 in Wagga Wagga, Shekhar relieved Mahendra bhayia and took over as the support crew to drive the van. Shekhar will be with me until we reach our final destination on 3 January 2024. Shekhar being the IT graduate, was able to resolve the issue and connect with the internet.


It would be almost impossible for me to provide a day-to-day account of the last 36 days. However, I would not be doing justice if I simply skipped the last five weeks walk and jumped straight to Day 37 of the Yatra. Hence, I would provide a summarised version of the main events on a week-by-week basis until we catch up with the walk into Wagga Wagga when Shekhar joined me.


Jo and her husband are very generous hosts. A big thank you for everything they did to make our stay comfortable. Achala and I had breakfast at Jo’s place and began our day’s walk on Tuesday morning. Upon reaching Sorrento, we had a coffee before boarding the ferry to Queenscliffe. The ferry arrived at 4:45 PM and the office at the Caravan park at Queenscliffe was due to close at 5:00 PM. So, we headed straight to the caravan park. After checking in, I rang Sam who was to take over from Achala. Sam was already on his way and arrived soon after. Achala went home in Sam’s car. Thanks very much for helping us out Achala Ji. A big thank you!


The next morning Wednesday 1 November, I began the 31 kms walk from Queenscliffe to Geelong. My friend Jack Blanco and his wife Carmen live in Geelong. We have known each other for almost 40 years. Jack had called the leading newspapers and advised them of the marathon walk through Geelong. Before arriving in Geelong, I was contacted by a newspaper. Just before reaching the outskirts of Geelong, a photographer met us and took some photos of the walk. The journalist called and asked me about the walk. During the walk this morning, I had started to have a blister on the second toe on my right foot. It became increasingly unbearable and when we reached Jack’s house, I punctured the blister to release the fluid and lessen the pain. Sam and I had a beautiful dinner at Jack’s and stayed with them overnight. Thank you so much Jack and Carmen for everything you did to support us. A big thank you.


On Thursday, 2 November, we had a heavy breakfast prepared by Jack himself. Sam and I drove to the city centre and started the walk towards Ballarat. We reached Lethbridge the day’s destination but there was no caravan park or anything else where we could stay. We continued to walk to Meredith. This turned out to be the longest walk with more than 54,000 steps in a day. Meredith is  a small town with an oval where the cricketers train and it has a shower. Shane Grinter, the person in charge was kind enough to provide us with full access to toilet and shower over the next two days. A big thank you to Shane! You are a champion man.

 

On Friday, 3 November we started early morning and terminated the walk at 10:00 AM. We drove to Melbourne to attend a function at the Crown Casino. Sam parked in front and stayed with the van. The Calcutta Luncheon by Australian Steel Association (ASA) is an annual event held on the Friday before the Melbourne Cup Day. For those not familiar with Melbourne Cup Day, the first Tuesday in November refers to Australia’s richest horse race and one of the world’s most rigorous horse races with millions of dollars at stake. The MC of the function introduced me to the audience. After lunch was served, I went from table to table to meet everyone, most of whom were known to be multi-millionaires. The ASA pledged five percent of the day’s takings to the McGrath Foundation.

 

Shekhar had arrived at the van and Dr Jit Angrish, who was to change over with Sam, had also joined them. When I  got back to the van, Shekhar boarded a train to go home. Sam drove the van to Werribee where Achala Datar was waiting to return Sam’s car. Dr Jit started driving towards Geelong and then towards Ballarat, I resumed walking where we had left off in the morning. After finishing the walk for the day at Elaine, we had coffee at the local bakery. We then drove back to Meredith to stay at the oval. Once again Shane was generous enough to help us out. Hats off to you mate!


On Saturday 4 November, we drove to the point in Elaine where we had left off the previous day and started to walk towards Ballarat. The Victorian Railways Institute (VRI) Ballarat had organized a function at the VRI Hall near the station. Before proceeding to the VRI Hall, I had to visit a medical centre due to several blisters on my toes. The second toe on my right foot was so bad that the doctor warned me that I might lose my toenail. The nurse cleaned the toes on both feet with some medicine and applied some kind of bandages to both sides.


Outside the VRI Hall, a journalist and a photographer had been waiting to interview me. When they were done, we went inside to a warm welcome by John and his team. John is a retired railway man from way back who believed in the traditional old Victorian Railways. You could feel the warmth in everything these VRI members did for us. With lots of food and a variety of cold and hot drinks, it was a feast. When they realised that I was a vegetarian, John’s wife and another lady ran out to get something that I could eat. I was so embarrassed when I found out what they had done to make me comfortable. On behalf of the VRI Ballarat, John handed over a cheque for $500 for the McGrath Foundation. Thank you so much John and the VRI team and their supporters. A big thank you!

 

It was great to see the Ballarat based McGrath Foundation (MF) nurse Joylene and her daughter Gemma join us at the VRI Hall. Joylene brought us a bag full of very useful items that I could use to relax and reenergize my feet. Joylene, a big Thank you for everything and the very best wishes for Gemma’s exams.

 

Dr Jit and I left Ballarat around 4:00 PM and drove to the Yoga Ashram at Rocklyn. I quickly changed from walking attire to something more appropriate to participate in the hawan that is a tradition on Saturdays at all the Satyananda Ashrams around the world. The hawan (wood fire with mantra chanting) is a cleansing process to get rid of all negativities and replace them with positive energies. The dinner is prepared from the vegies grown at the ashram by the devotees. After wash up, an hour’s electrifying kirtan finished the day on a high. While Swami Atma herself had flown to India, prior to her departure, she had organized everything to make our stay most comfortable. We were given two separate cottages with attached kitchen, bathroom and toilet. A big thank you Swami Ji!




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