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Epic journey ends in the South West

Lincoln BertelliSouth Western Times
John Olsen met with Brunswick Lions Club president Murray Piggott in Bunbury after the walk.
Camera IconJohn Olsen met with Brunswick Lions Club president Murray Piggott in Bunbury after the walk. Credit: Lincoln Bertelli

Nine months spent walking from one corner of Australia to another with no support crew and only a few essential possessions could be defined as either impossible or insane.

For 65-year-old Geelong man John Olsen, who visited Bunbury last week after wrapping up his official cross-country walk, the epic journey was a chance to honour an “unwritten pledge” to his late wife Vida.

She died in 2014 from a brain disorder called leukodystrophy and Mr Olsen vowed to complete the trek as a fundraiser for Leukodystrophy Australia.

He has raised more than $40,000 so far and was helped by a $1000 donation from Brunswick Lions Club.

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The club had members travel to Cape Leeuwin to greet Mr Olsen, who is a member of Geelong’s Lions club, when he officially finished his walk on Christmas Eve.

Club president Murray Piggott was among the members to spend time with Mr Olsen in Bunbury before he continues the “short” walk to Perth, where he will fly home from later this month.

While visiting Bunbury, Mr Olsen said the opportunity to see the ocean had been a motivating factor on his walk.

“It is a bit surreal because for months in remote parts of the country, I was dreaming of one day looking at water,” Mr Olsen said.

“It seemed so far away and now it is here.”

Mr Olsen said the isolation did not worry him during the walk and had been welcomed into communities along the way.

He said every town along the way was an opportunity to “load up” on food supplies and replenish water, carrying up to 44L and a month’s dry food in his cart.

Mr Olsen started this walk in Cape York in far north Queensland and was the third time he had completed a multi-state trek, although this was the longest and will also be his last.

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