Saturday, 03 May 2014

Harold's Hike 2011

Last year you supported me raising funds for Life Education Tasmania as I trekked the uninhabited WWII Battle Fields in the Finisterre Range in Papua New Guinea and negotiated the Mindjim River from Kankiryo to Bogadjim, a total distance in excess of 100 kms.To see Harold's Hike - 2011 click here.

This year, in company with Sally Wilson, Tasmania's single most successful fund raiser in Ocsober 2010 and Wayne and Jan Maher, weplanned to walk more than double the distance -240 kms from Lilydale, via Scottsdale and St Helens to Bicheno. Yes, a tough ask and, with your support, wemade that distance!

We are passionate about supporting Tasmanian kids and minimising the harm that drugs and alcohol in our society can do to our vulnerable youth. By providing education programs starting as early as preparatory school we can create resilience in children by empowering them to make reasoned lifestyle decisions. It's as simple as that!

Stuart Bryce

Chairman, Life Education Tasmania Inc.

Stuart's blog, covering the whole ten day walk, is shown below.

DAY 2 - THURSDAY 10TH NOVEMBER

On Wednesday 9th November, Harold's Hike arrived in Scottsdale from Lilydale, after walking 41 km through torrential rainstorms. On Thursday, the Harold's Hike team visited Scottsdale Primary School where "Healthy Harold", Life Education's iconic giraffe, entertained the school children. It was a delight tosee how the children reacted to Harold's presence.

Harold "mobbed" by excited students at Scottsdale Primary School

Through the previous endeavours of fellow volunteer, Sally Wilson, sufficient funds have been raised in the north east to ensure that Life Education programs would be conducted at Scottsdale Primary without placing any demands on the school, the Education Department or the parent body.

DAY 3 - FRIDAY 11TH NOVEMBER

Yesterday Harold's Hike took us from Scottsdale, via Ledgerwood, Ringarooma to Branxholme. We stopped off at the Ringarooma Primary School to meet with the principal, Dawn McCauley and trekked through some of Tasmania's most beautiful countryside.

DAY 4 - SATURDAY 12TH NOVEMBER

Harold's Hike left Branxholme at 9:40 am after visiting Derby to collect yet another money box. We travelled via the Mount Paris Dam Road, a gravel road that took us away from the traffic. Not far in we came across four young ladies whose car had become stuck in a ditch. Fortunately, with the Life Education Bash Car as an escort, we had all the equipment to assist them out of the ditch and on their way. The girls showed their appreciation by donating $50 to Life Education!

Today was a very pleasant day with near perfect weather and we arrived at the Weldborough Pub just after 2:00 pm. The lady of the house, Felicity and her husband Mark, showed their support for Life Education by putting us up free of charge.

Carol Avent, Stuart and Sally with Velvet (a very tired doggie)

The girls stayed in "the Hilton" pictured behind the Bash car and I stayed in "The Bunkhouse" with Peter, a member of the Ulysses Motor Cycle Club.

Something rather sad we are seeing, travelling through these lovely rural areas, is the virtual collapse of their economies: businesses for sale and closing down; parents separated because there is no employment - all this as a consequence of the politically motivated collapse of the forest industries. Rather sad really.

The spectacular countryside in NorthEast Tasmania Sally and Velvet walking past the hopfields at Ledgerwood

No injuries and no leaches! One platypus sighting and one echidna saved from traffic. The most exciting development is that the third member of our team, Carol Avent, has given up her heavy smoking habit, putting on patches and having her first day off the fags for over 25 years! Just fantastic! If that was all Harold's Hike achieved it would not have been in vain!

DAYS 5 & 6 - SUNDAY 13TH and MONDAY 14TH NOVEMBER

We arrived at the Pub in the Paddock at Pyengana early enough to fit in a huge country lunch. What a great place! This where the famous pig, Priscilla, lives -known for her love of beer and customers are encouraged to buy 'pig beer' for her. We stopped at the Pyengana Cheese factory and bought some sustenance. That is also a magnificent place, serving great coffee and Chai Latte. We then continued a further kilometre to the Pub in the Paddock. On the way, a lady working in her garden asked why I was walking. When I explained what Life Education was about she turned and told me to wait while she got her purse. No, no notes but an enormous double handful of $1 and $2 dollar coins! Some people are just so special and yes, the three of us made a fuss of her!

After completing the blog entry we rearranged the Bash car so that it would fit three of us (Harold takes a lot of room!) and headed off 20 km east where we could get mobile reception. When we arrived in the zone, I couldn't find my computer. That's about when I realised that I had left it on the roof of the car! After two hours of searching, the girls found it on the side of the main road where we had entered from the Pub in the Paddock. Yes, it's still alive, or partly. The only thing it won't do is connect to the internet through my mobile phone. It will need some help when we get back to Launceston. How dumb is that! Beats getting blisters!

Sally has other thoughts about Priscilla, and they include bacon, ham and pork belly! She and Velvet slept very near to Priscilla and her night antics are worse and a heavy snorer! We headed off today (Monday) leaving about 7:30 am with me walking in the rain (why is it that I seem to get the rainy bits and the hills???). I kept walking after it stopped raining long enough to dry out. In St Helens we visited a number of businesses and found that generosity is alive and well amongst northeast businesses.

Tomorrow, we visit St Helens Primary School, more St Helens' businesses and then take a short hike to Scamander just down the coast.

DAY 7 - TUESDAY 15TH NOVEMBER

Day 7 started out with a walk around St Helens, approaching businesses and seeking their support. We also replaced some money boxes that had become casualties and changed the money to smaller denominations. We then visited St Helens District High School and met Tory Harrison, with whom Sally had pre-arranged a meeting and the Student Representative Council, who presented Sally with a $70 donation towards Life Education Tasmania. After that it was off to Scamander, a shorter walk of 19 km. Conditions were dry but very windy and the road verges were quite steep. Heavy vehicle movements made the trek a little uncomfortable but most drivers did give us a wider berth. Another echidna was rescued from traffic (we do do some good!) and we received two further donations en route as well as a lot of friendly waves.

Something that has been consistently disappointing is the amount of rubbish dumped on the roadside, mostly soft drink and beer cans/bottles, as well as a plethora of cigarette packets. I hope we manage to grow out of this habit.

Our blogmaster, Stephanie, will again be disappointed as we have no blisters or other injuries to report. Thanks for all your good work, Stephanie, have a great holiday in Bali!

Photo: Pictured are the members of the St Helens' Student Representative Council
L-R Joel Haley, Josh Breen with Sally Wilson (left) and teacher Tory Harrison

DAY 8 - WEDNESDAY 16TH NOVEMBER

Last night we dined at the Scamander Resort, recently taken over by an Asian family and their skills were expressed in the lovely dinner we enjoyed.

Today we started off at 7:30 am - cool morning with slight breeze. I walked the 10 Km to the St Mary's Pass turn-off then we all traveled in the Bash car to St Marys - both passes: St Mary's and Elephant being prescribed off-limits for walking safely. We visited St Marys District High School where we were warmly received by the Principal, Louise Rose who was very positive about incorporating Life Education into the curriculum for both St Marys and Avoca Primary Schools. She also offered a donation of $50 for which we were very grateful.

Just for leisure, we stopped at the Mt Elephant Pancake Place, an icon since 1979, and enjoyed some savoury pancakes before heading down Elephant Pass then walking back towards Scamander to reduce tomorrow's walking commitment. The weather has been fantastic but now that it's afternoon, it would be a bit hot for walking comfortably; but who cares! We have less than 40kms and two days to run. Coming back to Scamander for an overnight, we picked up two more money boxes from businesses in Scamander, both proved very supportive.

Our third member, Carol, is still off the fags and commented that the patches were working very well. Despite the occasional urge, which she is able to overcome, she is managing well. Isn't that just fantastic! Of the three of us, Carol has made the biggest commitment towards Harold's Hike, because she has ventured so far out of her comfort zone, and given up smoking to boot!

DAY 9 - THURSDAY 17TH NOVEMBER

This morning we again arose early and headed south to the junction of St Marys Pass and the coast road, from where we continued the walk, until we reached where we had walked north from the junction of the Elephant Pass Road. From there we drove south to that junction and then continued our walk towards Bicheno, stopping with 20 km to go tomorrow. Imagine! 220 km down and 20 km to go.

This afternoon we visited Bicheno Primary School and spoke to the Principal, Jeanagh Viney. Again, the main inhibiting factor for including Life Education programs is finance, as the school is not in any way affluent and is currently absorbing cuts of $25,000 imposed by the state government. This is a common problem that Life Education is facing here in Tasmania. Our finances are drawn between a need for capital items, such as two more vans, and a need to assist schools to include us in their programs. The only thing that will resolve this is continued support from the Tasmanian community and the local corporate sector.

Adding up our spoils thus far, Sally has accumulated $9854.50 from Harold’s Hike and there is more to collect. This is a fabulous contribution towards creating resilience in children and a credit to the community. In real terms, this represents sufficient funds to provide Life Education programs to 1,160 Tasmanian children.

DAY 10 - FRIDAY 18TH NOVEMBER - The Final Trek to Bicheno
With only 20 km left to go, we enjoyed a sleep in, getting up at 7:00 am and having breakfast at Bicheno’s famous Blue Edge Bakery before joining with the CEO of Tasmanian Independent Retailers,Grant Hinchcliffe, and Glen Rainsford from IGA who came down from Launceston to walk the last leg with us. The weather was closing in but we managed to beat the rain to our finish line, outside Peter and Lyn’s IGA supermarket at Bicheno. Only one glitch on the way and that was the battery finally giving out on the Bash car, which we then managed to jump start. As part of their warm welcome, Peter and Lyn put on a fine lunch for all of us.

Grant Hinchcliffe, Glen Rainsford and Carol Avent in the driver's seat at the finish line.

It is time to say thanks: Thanks particularly to Sally Wilson, who proposed the walk in the first place and who then worked tirelessly raising funds and made all the arrangements, including our accommodation on the way, most of which was either free or subsidised.

We were very grateful to the communities of the northeast and east coast who have so generously supported Harold's Hike.  To our sponsors, Budget Rent A Car & IGA and to Tasmania Police and the primary schools along the route who warmly welcomed us and Harold.  Special thanks to the caravan parks and pubs, Kennards at Scottsdale, the Branxholme Hotel, theWeldborough Pub, Bayside Inn at St Helens, Scamander Caravan Park and Phil's Caravan Park at Bicheno.   Finally, a very special thanks to our team mate, Carol Avent, whose tenacity in taking on this significant challenge should not go unnoticed.

Total funds raised are now $10,254! A sincere thank you to everyone who encouraged and supported us. You have made a fantastic contribution to help to Life Education spread their message to the children of Tasmania.

Would we do it again?   I think we would!

If you would like to view the route map, please Click Here

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