ON YOUR MARK: Pearl Moss, Marcia Bourne, Irene Lewis and Lifestyle and Leisure co-ordinator Shelley Maunder prepare for the walk at the Ballina Ex-Services Home.
ON YOUR MARK: Pearl Moss, Marcia Bourne, Irene Lewis and Lifestyle and Leisure co-ordinator Shelley Maunder prepare for the walk at the Ballina Ex-Services Home. DOUG EATON

Getting set to shuffle around Australia

MARCIA Bourne took small, shuffling steps with her wheelie walker on Tuesday to cover 128 metres - and the 87-year-old only has the best part of 35,877km to go.

But the resident of the Ex-Services Home Ballina's dementia ward won't be walking by herself - eventually she'll be joined by the 110 residents of the aged-care facility, with many to wear pedo- meters.

Marcia, dressed in the uniform she wore when she completed a leg of the Sydney Olympic Torch Relay in Ballina in 2000, cut the ribbon to mark the start of the Walk Around Australia project.

Eleven of the dementia patients completed the set 128m route.

Registered nurse Maree Green said all the distances the residents walk would be tallied each month and they hope to cover enough ground to say they have walked around Australia.

She said residents would hold themed celebrations when they "reach" major cities. The first celebration will be a day trip once the distance to Lennox Head is covered.

Now the distance they use for their total walk might be contentious, as there are several measures.

The distance around the Australian coastline is reported by the Australian Government's GeoScience website to be 35,877km.

However the road distance is said to vary from around 15,000 to 20,000km depending on which route you take.

The most important thing for the residents is the health benefits. Ms Green said the staff of the Ballina home got the idea for the project from another aged-care facility which made a presentation at an innovation conference.

She said there wasn't a timeframe on the marathon "walk", but once it was completed they planned to keep going and walk around the world.



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