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MCG – SCG Walk 2.0 (Week 7)

Updated: Jan 15

Days 43 to 49: Harden to Boorowa to Crookwell

Sunday 10 December: Shekhar and I got ready to take on the next challenge to walk as far as we could towards Boorowa in this heat. The main road through Harden goes straight uphill and after about 500 meter turns left towards Boorowa. We followed this highway that had lots of twists and turns as it became more challenging with steep hills through dense forest. This road was difficult to walk on because of the nature of its structure and lack of shoulder to walk on. We stopped for breakfast and subsequent powernap. We also had quite a few breaks for topping up water bottle, cooling off the body and to taking rest. After walking around 22 kms, we marked the location with the white spray and returned to Harden caravan park.


We had late lunch while my body was cooling down. We cut up some mangoes that we had bought at Woolworths in Coota. The mangoes were sweet and juicy, and we both enjoyed them. Now I was ready to have a shower. I walked into shower that had perhaps not been thoroughly cleaned for a long time. The entire Men’s area needed a thorough cleaning. Before sitting down to use, one had to sweep away many bugs from the toilet seat. After sitting down to defecate, you had to watch for bugs crawling on the floor or flying around. The whole bathroom/toilet area was infested with bugs. To bring it to the attention of the relevant authority, I emailed the Hilltops Council and highlighted the health risk to travellers. I also suggested that installation of a flyscreen door and an electronic zapper would minimize the problem. After dinner in the van, we went to sleep.


Monday 11 December: Shekhar and I drove to the mark from the previous day and paid my respect to Mother Earth before starting the walk to Boorowa. It was forecast to be another hot day with the temperature in mid 30s. We had frequent breaks to keep the body cool, rehydrate and restore energy levels. The air-conditioning in the van was full throttle. As soon as you got out of the van, it was as if you had been thrown into a hot oven. We finally arrived at the Boorowa Information Centre. I introduced myself to the woman at the reception and gave her a leaflet about the walk. She was only filling in for someone. However, she told me that there was a possibility of help in Boorowa if I contacted Dean Franklin who ran the Boorowa Podcast. But there was one problem. She didn’t have Dean’s contact number. She pointed us in the direction of Dean’s office, which was unattended.


Shekhar had parked the van in the side street outside the Information Centre. While waiting for me, Shekhar had acquainted a couple from Orange, who were on their way to Canberra. Tony and Penny were just having a break when they met Shekhar. They made a generous donation to support the walk. Thank you so much my friends from far away! You guys are amazing.


Shekhar and I followed the directions of the woman from the information centre and drove to Dean Franklin’s office which was closed. The office was right next to the main cafe in Boorowa. We had a coffee at this café and we tried in vain to find Dean’s number. Shekhar finally found a way online to leave a message for Dean to contact us. We checked into the caravan park. The caretaker allocated an appropriate site but didn’t charge for it because of our mission. Thank you so much for your kindness and support my friends.


Dean contacted us and requested an interview. From the outset, he made it clear that he did not have a large number of followers or listeners to his podcast. Since he was upfront with everything, we were happy to go ahead. The interview was recorded in Dean’s office and a sign of positive development was that Shekhar also participated in answering questions. After the interview we drove to the local RSL club and had some coffee.


Late afternoon, when the temperature began to come down, we began the walk towards Rugby and Crookwell. We wanted to cover as much distance as it would be possible. We walked past a pub on the corner where a few patrons were enjoying beer in the front verandah. They called me over and said that the whole town appreciated Boorowa being included in the itinerary for our walk and made generous donations. We walked for a couple of hours. We also noted a gun club and shooting ranges in the area. When the Sun began to go down, we marked the location and started driving back to Boorowa caravan park. We cooked dinner in the van and went to bed. Within minutes, it started bucketing down. Shekhar and I were stunned at the volatility of weather in Boorowa region.


Tuesday 12 December: We got ready and drove to the marked location to start the walk. I touched my forehead to pay respect to Mother Earth, did the radio test for direct communication and started the walk. It was a hot morning which indicated a very hot day ahead. In anticipation of hot weather, we had stocked up plenty of bottled water, and this turned out to be a life saver and a blessing for the continuation of walk, day after day after day after day. We took many breaks for cooling down, rehydration and rest.


We finally made it Rugby, a town with an official population of just 83. It might surprise many that despite being such a small town, Rugby has a community hall, fire brigade and a well-equipped playground for little ones. Hats off to the forward thinkers who made sure that this place is not deprived of these facilities because of its population size. We walked past the town to Rugby cemetery before terminating the walk for the day. We then drove back to Boorowa caravan park. The caravan park had two wash machines. Both were out of order. We went to see the caretaker to inform them that we would be staying one more night. We also asked about where to wash our clothes, we were told that there was a coin laundrette a couple of minutes drive down the road. We took the clothes to the coin laundrette and we went to explore the shops and businesses.


We visited a Pub and met the owner, a native from New Zealand. Shekhar and I ordered soft drinks. I gave a leaflet to the owner because he wanted to know more about our mission before committing himself to a donation. He was also apprehensive about the cashless society being promoted in the country. A regular visitor to this pub, who was into riding motor bikes, was listening to our conversation. After asking a few questions, he made a cash donation. I gave him a receipt and we returned to the caravan park. We had dinner in the van and went to sleep.


Wednesday 13 December: After walking through such a tough terrain for so many hot days, we decided to have a Rest Day in Boorowa. We wanted to have a complete rest day today. We slept in and didn’t wake up when the alarm went off. We had some tea/coffee and started working on catching up with the blogs. Had Weetbix and milk for breakfast in the van. Garnished two cans of chickpeas with cummin seeds, fresh ginger and Indian spices for lunch. Late afternoon we had tea/coffee with savoury mix and nuts. We went to the caretaker to personally thank him for their support for the noble cause. We also told him that we would be checking out early tomorrow morning. After a day of full relaxation, we returned to the van, had dinner, and went to sleep.


Thursday 14 December:  Shekhar and I got ready and drove to the Rugby Cemetery. I got off, paid my respect to Mother Earth and started walking towards Crookwell. Once again, it was a hot morning start to an extremely hot day. Since the start of the walk, I was sweating a lot and drinking plenty of water to keep my body hydrated. The terrain was tough, and the hills were getting steeper because Crookwell was at around 1,000 metres altitude compared to Boorowa at 500 metres. The walk was very exhausting but with facing all the oncoming traffic, it required full concentration. I was taking frequent breaks, resting in the van, and cooling down my body.


Around lunch time, we stopped at a café at a farmhouse. Red Robin Café and store was owned and operated by the Proudford family who have had this farm for several generations. Peta Proudford made very nice coffee for us but didn’t charge a cent. She waived the cost because she saw the banners on the van and came to know what we were doing. This family had been big supporters of the McGrath Foundation for a long time. Peta called up Tristan, the editor of the Upper Lachlan Gazette, the local weekly in Crookwell and apprised her of our visit to Crookwell. Thank you so much for your support Peta! You are a real gem.


I was getting really tired because of the challenging nature of the terrain and heat exhaustion. We marked the location and terminated the walk shortly after having coffee at Red Robbins. We drove to Crookwell and went to the Information Centre. We booked the council caravan park for three nights and paid $102 (@$34/night). We walked along the shops and stopped opposite the Post Office for lunch and coffee at the Paul’s Café on the corner of Spring Street and Goulburn Street.


We went to the council office, introduced ourselves to the reception, and asked if we could see the Mayor and the GM. The woman at the reception told us that unfortunately everyone was in a full council meeting and could not be disturbed. We left a leaflet at the reception and asked the lady to pass it on to the Mayor and CEO.


We got a call from Tash who together with Tristan managed the affairs of the ‘Gazette’. She met with us near the Information Centre, asked some questions regarding the walk and took photos against the backdrop of Crookwell. Tash also informed us of the Crookwell Christmas function taking place opposite the Council Offices on Saturday. She invited us to the function and suggested that this could be a great opportunity to meet as many people as possible and raise awareness.


We then drove to the caravan park to settle in for the night. Despite plenty of Sun, the solar batteries in the van had not been charging to full capacity. We connected the extension lead to the caravan park power supply. All equipment fitted after sales, such as the fridge, induction hot plate for cooking, and additional lights inside and outside the van were dependent on solar power.


We were pleasantly surprised to see the well maintained and spotless facilities. I went to shower and enjoyed the extra pressure and the twisted holes in the showerhead. After a hot day’s walk, this shower was a treat. I could say it with conviction that this caravan park had the best showers we had come across during the Walk 2.0. After dinner, Shekhar went to the bathroom and he didn’t come back for a long time because he enjoyed the shower so much. We hit the bed thereafter.


Friday 15 December: After getting ready, we drove back to the marked location. I went through my daily routine of paying respect to Mother Earth and started the walk. It was going to be another hot day. We were mentally and physically prepared to face any challenges. The oncoming traffic on the steep climbs, without any shoulder to walk on, posed a great deal of increased risk. However, in the face of these dangers, we continued to walk until the objectives of today’s walk were accomplished. We paused a number of times before we reached Crookwell. We walked through Crookwell and turned right towards Bannister and Mummel.


After completing the day’s walk, we went to Matt’s Bakery for lunch and coffee. We ordered home-made carrot cake with cappuccino. The cake was delicious, and the coffee was equally good. Subsequently, we visited shops on one side of the Goulburn Road and handed them the leaflets. I had a haircut at the barber’s shop next to the Gazette Office in the middle of the Goulburn Street. Tristan and Tash greeted us when they saw us. They suggested that we should attend the Christmas function that was to start at 5:00PM. I should address the audience and share the reasons for the walk.


We headed to the caravan park because I was exhausted after the walk. I removed the top clothes as they were drenched with sweat. I needed to cool down the body with the air conditioner running full throttle before having shower. After resting for a while, we had some snacks with a cuppa. I had a shower before dinner. Shekhar had a shower and we slipped into the world of dreams.


Saturday 16 December: Shekhar and I got ready and drove to the Matt’s Bakery and started the walk. We walked past the Crookwell Hospital. We continued to walk until we reached the corner of Bannister Lane. We called it a day and drove back to Crookwell. We had lunch at a café Zestt opposite the IGA. This café had high ceilings and in addition to food, it also sold other items. Afterwards we drove to the caravan park, had a shower, got changed and returned to the shops.


We had a cuppa at Paul’s café before walking over to the Christmas function. A large number of stalls were set up on both sides of the Spring Street. Everyone looked excited. The kids were dressed up in festive colours and their presence made the event so lively. As we entered the function grounds, we met Pam Kensit the Mayor, and Alex the General Manager. I requested them to consider reimbursing the $102 we had paid for staying at the caravan park. They happily agreed and told us to visit the Information Centre the next day to have the amount reimbursed.


Tash and Tristan had set up the ‘Upper Lachlan Gazette’ stall near the stage. Josh Matthews from Capital Radio Network was the MC for tonight’s event. Josh was briefed about the walk and our participation in the event. The Upper Lachlan Mayor welcomed everyone to tonight’s function, followed by Alex’s formal address to the audience. Josh then invited me to the stage and asked me to share with the audience some details about the marathon walk. Concluding my address, I appealed to everyone to dig deep and make a generous donation to support the McGrath Foundation. Shekhar and I sat down at the Gazette stall. Some people came and made cash donations. Pam the Mayor brought vegetarian snack to share with us. She also made a generous donation. The function concluded around 8:30 PM and we drove back to the caravan park. We had a quick bite and went to bed.



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