Swagman passes through Bonalbo
A MODERN-DAY swagman who has been wandering Australia’s roads for over 30 years, living off only what he finds along the way, passed through Bonalbo last week.
With no job, no debts and no attachments, Grant ‘John’ Cadoret, 55, leads a simple life wandering from highway to highway, sleeping on whatever roadside he finds himself on at sunset and embracing whatever elements nature throws at him.
The Northern Star caught up with the swaggie walking on the Clarence Way last Friday, bound for Ballarat in Victoria and carrying everything he owns on his back.
“I started working in a bank in Melbourne for four-and-a-half years and then realised it wasn’t what I wanted to do for the rest of my life,” Mr Cadoret said.
“I took a three-month holiday that turned into 30 years. I lost contact with my family after the first three months and they thought I was missing for 15 years and didn’t hear from me for 20 years.
“Now I write to my mother every month, but I don’t think she has really forgiven me. I walk down to see her in Horsham once a year and to Caloundra to see my sister.
“This is my lifestyle now. I’m not paying anything off, I’m just bludging along.”
Mr Cadoret was 22 when he first started ‘living of the road’ and was reunited with his family after 15 years as a missing person through the ABC’s Australian Story program in 2004.
Throughout his life on the road Mr Cadoret has never worked, only living off coins he finds on the side of the road, food left behind by travellers and donations from people passing by.
His nomad life has taken him across all the landscapes of Australia, from camping in minus 16 degree frosts in Victoria, living under a tarp for days on end during a torrential downpour in Gympie and almost being squashed by a falling pine tree.
“I was hit by a falling tree a few years ago and I was laid up in the forest, drinking out of a puddle next to me for four days,” he said.
“I like the Northern Plains here the best. It is very mellow and I can see for miles.
“I’ve done most of the main roads around here. I’ve been down this one (the Clarence Way) a few times. But I still haven’t done Warwick to Woodenbong yet.
“I’m heading south at the moment through Casino, Lismore then Grafton, and I’ll zig-zag down to Ballarat.”
With his worn-in Akubra hat, pack of canned food and day-by-day existence, MrCadoret says he will carry on wandering the roads ‘while my body holds up’.
“I sometimes wonder why I do it when there are people out there saving the world and I’m just bludging along,” he said.