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Nobby's Great Australian Walkabout

Nobby's Great Australian Walkabout

March 1994
Nobby Young's great Australian walk is over. The 47-year-old Sydney letter carrier left his home in Gladesville, Sydney on February 28, 1993, and returned on February 28, 1994, after covering about 16,000 kilometres. In the process he set a new record for the world's longest continuous walk.

Young's walk was sponsored by Australia Post and was undertaken in support of Life Education Centres. It received enormous media attention. Along the way he was interviewed more than 350 times.

The event was serious but he had a lot of fun en route at his own expense, happily describing himself as "a silly old bugger," and regaling readers of Ultramag, the official publication of the Australian Ultra Runners' Association, with wise-cracking reports from the road.

"Before I left Sydney I spent a day in a 'media school' so that I wouldn't make a goat of myself in front of the camera," he reported. "The summary at the end of the day was that I was doing most things wrongly."

Young walked clockwise around the continent, finishing with a much publicized last leg with a police escort to the Australia Post State Head Office at "Strawberry Hills" in Sydney. Towards the end he wrote in one of his regular reports from the road to Ultramag: "It seems so long ago that Jim English and I left Sydney, not really knowing what lay ahead of us on such a long journey.

Even Perth, and the bolstering of the support team by the recruiting of Gwen Gould, seems like distant history. I'm pleased that I decided to walk only one lap of the island!

"It's nice to recall some of he people we have met. Here are two of the more memorable:

"The first is a bloke in Northern New South Wales who developed his farm as an adventure camp for kids and charges them a dollar each to stay. It's a great place, the kids love it, and each year the owner loses a bit more financially. No worries, this is what he intended to do.

"The second is a lady in Western Australia who thought that the churches were not caring enough about people and decided to deal directly with God. The result is that she runs 'open house' - on the property that she owns with her husband - for people who need respite from the pleasures of living. No charge, just stay a while and make yourself at home...

"Ever notice how the buns, the scoundrels, the crooks and the rip off merchants get a disproportionate amount of the media coverage?...

"Many times I wished that I had a camera with me to capture a particular view that I have had the thrill of seeing. Now I am pleased that we didn't, as what we have around us cannot be recorded on film, or anything else for that matter. It is a view, a feeling, a smell, a sound and an atmosphere that cannot be experienced in any other way than being there!"

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