John Olsen's last leg of epic Aussie charity walk
WITH an entire continent in his wake, John Olsen strode into Lismore yesterday.
Mr Olsen, 57, of Geelong in Victoria, is walking across the nation without any kind of support team in a bid to raise $200,000 for the Australian Leukodystrophy Support Group (ALSG) and the Australian Lions Children's Mobility Foundation (ALCMF).
He left Australia's most westerly point, Steep Point in Western Australia, at 10am on June 18, bound for Australia's most easterly point, Cape Byron.
His only company on the open road has been his Wilson trailer, which carries all his daily needs such as food, cooking utensils and bedding.
Along the way, he has suffered foot infections, has worn out eight trailer tyres and has used three pairs of joggers.
He has trudged sealed roads, dusty tracks and walked through quagmires. He's even experienced the dust of Great Victoria Desert and an electrical storm.
Mr Olsen's arrival in Lismore yesterday was eagerly anticipated by 11-year-old Aden Nock, of Alstonville, who Aden was cured of adrenoleukodystropy through a bone marrow transplant when 6-years-old.
Aden shared a few steps with Mr Olsen before the latter took a break outside Lismore City Hall.
He continues on his way today to Byron Bay where his sponsor, the Lions Club, has organised a beard shave and auction to assist his cause.
Mr Olsen said he enjoyed helping those less fortunate than himself - including his partner, Vida, who suffers from leukodystrophy.
"She isn't why I'm doing this. When we met she already had the disorder," he said.
"Through Vida, I've learned more about the disorder and I'm pleased I'm doing this. Although it's been physically demanding I think, as a younger person, I wouldn't have been as mentally prepared, but I'm looking forward to seeing her when I get home in January.
"She's usually at home as it's difficult for her to get around."
Mr Olsen leaves Byron Bay on December 1, bound for Geelong, which he hopes to reach toward the end of January.
This walk will see him complete 6500km. In 2004 he walked 5622km from the tip of Cape York to Wilsons Promontory in Victoria, and from Devonport to the southern tip of Tasmania, to raise funds for leukodystrophy.
"Even though there were times that were tinged with panic, I always knew that I'd be able to do it," he said.
A Lions Club fund-raising event to help Mr Olsen will be held at The Beach Hotel, Byron Bay, on Saturday at 11.30am.
Leukodystrophy is a progressive disorder that damages the development of fatty parts of the brain and the insulating fatty sheaths around nerve fibres, called the myelin sheath.
Although coming under a single name, leukodystrophy is actually a group of genetic disorders.