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MCG – SCG Walk 2.0

Updated: Dec 13, 2023

Days 8 to 14 of Yatra: Ballarat to Yoga Ashram to Castlemaine to Bendigo to Goornong

Sunday 5 November: Early morning Dr Jit and I had a cuppa and drove from the Ashram to Ballarat town centre. I touched my forehead to Mother Earth to pay respect and started the walk towards the ashram. We stopped at a petrol station to have a cuppa. It was run by a young student from India, who was more concerned about his Permanent Residence than anything else. He had no idea of the McGrath Foundation or what it does, let alone making a donation to support it. However, then the other extreme happened. While walking in the middle of nowhere, a total stranger came out of his farmhouse and donated $50 in cash. I noted down his details and issued a receipt. He had read about the walk in the local newspaper, and he was so pleased to meet and take photos with me. Apart from the wildlife, there isn’t much between Ballarat and the Ashram. Late afternoon, we walked back into the ashram. After an early dinner, we went to bed.


Monday 6 November was supposed to be a rest day. However, to reduce the distance for the following day's walk, we decided to cover some distance and walk to Daylesford on the Monday. Swami Ji at the ashram had told us about the horrific accident that had taken place at Daylesford the previous evening. A retiree had accidentally driven into people who were dining outside a restaurant. When we reached Daylesford, the area was still cordoned off and cameramen and reporters for various TV channels were still there. All those killed were having a great time in Daylesford and in a split second, five young lives were lost. After seeing the place so soon after it happened, it was an eerie feeling. We drove back to the Ashram, not feeling hungry but had a light dinner and went to bed.


Tuesday 7 November: We left early morning after having a quick cuppa in my room. I was video recording as we drove out of the forest to Daylesford. The moment I stopped recording, a large kangaroo jumped in front of the van. We would have missed him by a whisker and what a recording it would have been, had I not stopped recording for a few more seconds. We began our walk on the Midland Hwy A300 at Daylesford and continued past Dry Diggings and after walking 25 kms, we reached Guildford. A small town, with a population of just 333, a shop cum post office, and a country style pub where everyone knew everyone. A young woman brought me a glass of cold water when she found out who we were and what we were doing. It was shocking to find out that this young woman’s drinking partner, an Australian woman in her 40s did not know who Glenn McGrath was. Her excuse was that she was from the bush with no internet or TV which I thought was hard to believe. On the flip side, a middle-aged woman at this very pub offered us a place where we could park our van to sleep in her backyard and use the facilities inside the house. With no other choice open to us, we accepted the offer and followed her to her backyard. We had dinner in the van and went to sleep.


Wednesday 8 November: We continued to walk on the Midland Hwy from Guildford to Castlemaine. It was relatively short walk, just 12 kms but it was full of steep rises. When we arrived in town centre, we spotted a bakery right in the heart of the town. We ordered some coffee and snacks and sat down. I rang the woman from the local media who wanted to meet up with us for a quick chat. After the interview, we headed to organise a place to stay the night. We checked into BIG4 Caravan Park. The receptionist was very excited when she found out about the walk that we were doing for the McGrath Foundation. However, she wasn’t authorised to give us any discount.

We went back to town centre to get the blisters on my toes fixed up at the medical centre. We were given an appointment an hour and a half later. We had another coffee at the same bakery and walked around before going back to the medical centre. The staff was very friendly, and they did a good job to make my toes comfortable to continue the walk. We met a weird character (see photo below) who was wearing anything he found on the street. Late afternoon, we went for another walk. We started the walk at the Castlemaine Town Hall and walked around 10 kms towards Bendigo. We returned to the caravan park, had dinner and went to sleep.


Thursday 9 November: After an early morning coffee at the same bakery in Castlemaine, we drove to the point where we had finished the walk yesterday. With all the traffic of heavy trucks, road trains, tradies’ utes and cars, the Midland Hwy is like a freeway, except it is not prohibited to walk on Midland Hwy. While most of the Midland Hwy provides a shoulder to walk on, the sheer amount of high-speed traffic on this highway makes it almost impossible to walk. Today’s walk was not just hazardous but also a long arduous walk with steep rises and tough terrain. After reaching the outskirts of Bendigo, we drove back to Castlemaine to stay another night.


Friday 10 November: We drove to the outskirts of Bendigo and started the walk into town towards the railway station. The VRI had organized a function and I had asked Mintu, our eldest son to join us. The Google Maps took us to the station but bypassed the city. Anyway, we found our way to the VRI Hall where we were supposed to go. We were welcomed by distinguished guests and members of the VRI, Danny Baldasso and his wife (local members of the VRI), David Mathews the VRI President, and Katherine the VRI General Manager.


There was also a team from WIN News the local TV channel in Bendigo, who wanted to interview us. Then there was the Bendigo’s leading newspaper that wanted to run a story about the walk. Two Breast Care nurses from the McGrath Foundation also joined us at the function. I was also pleased to see Mintu come and join us all the way from Melbourne. Following the conclusion of the function, we met with the WIN News team and recorded the interview that was broadcast the same evening ( Also met with other media to answer their questions. Subsequently, I went to the Commonwealth Bank and deposited the $500 Cheque plus $100 in cash into the account of the McGrath Foundation.


Danny Baldasso and his wife were kind enough to offer us a place to park the van and sleep in their front yard and use the facilities inside the house. Danny is also from the old Victorian Railways who has lived through significant changes over the years including the privatisation of the public transport system in Victoria. After a great evening, we all went to bed.


Saturday 11 November: Though Danny and his wife live close to the hwy towards Echuca, and it would have saved us 5-6 kms to walk straight from there; nevertheless, instead of taking any short cuts, Dr Jit and I drove to Bendigo station and started the walk from the city. We were supposed to reach Goornong, our destination for the day. We had to return to Bendigo station as Dr Jit was going home and Michael was going to take over from him. Dr Jit caught a train back to Melbourne, so that he would be back home for Diwali the next day (Sunday 12 November). Michael arrived and after a cuppa at the marketplace next to station, we drove back to Danny’s place to park Michael’s car for a week.


We then started driving back to the point where we had left off at, but we were stopped by the police due to some accident ahead and a bush fire. The traffic was diverted around the scene of the accident, and it was around 25 kms loop that we had to take to get there and back to Danny’s place. Michael and I had beautiful Indian dinner with Danny and his wife in the evening. Subsequently, we all went to sleep.


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Tracie Kyne
Tracie Kyne
Dec 16, 2023

It was such an honour to meet you and share dinner with you. You are an exceptional human, raising money by walking 1000 plus kms and I can’t wait to see you walk into the SCG for day 2 of the test. Congratulations!! ❤️

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