Three years ago I told my partner I wanted to walk around Australia. He was a little taken back. He didn’t say anything negative but smiled, readjusted himself then tried to comprehend my enthusiasm for this venture. Nonetheless, I verbalised what was on my mind and by doing so I unleashed something in me. I found another way to make use one of one my greatest assets, my energy, an unrelenting enthusiasm that won’t go away. I also realised, that I can do anything in life. But these words are rather clichéd. I’ve heard them, read them, seen them but never truly comprehended how you can actually do anything you want and an essential part of this is choice.

In 2013/14, I created the 1000km/30day Trek Series, which is about achieving personal goals, engaging a positive attitude and people’s will power and exploring the country on foot while raising some dollars for organisations that need a hand. I’ve successfully undertaken two of these treks and raised $15 000 for charity. I’m currently in the process of planning my trek around the country and these smaller treks not only provide invaluable preparation, but they’ve ignited a part of me that, at times, is difficult to define to others.


There are always many hours of preparation and planning that form every trek and each begins six to nine months ahead of the start date. Researching, generating support and sponsorship, dealing with unrivalled joy, disappointment and doubt, sudden changes in plans and the training of my mind and body all play a role and once again these elements have formed the lead up to my next venture. My upcoming trek is 1200km in 35 days (or less) across the Nullarbor to raise funds for Foodbank, BlazeAid, Project Numbat & Tiwi Island Football and I begin on July 23, 2016.

Whether it’s during my training or one of my treks the feel of bitumen, or sometimes just plain dirt, beneath my feet never changes. It’s sturdy and grounding. The serenity of a 5am start is also thankfully constant. It’s as if the world hasn’t woken. The peace at this time of day is palpable and I never tire of its hospitality. It’s just me, and the sound of my pair of Ghost 7s keeping time. An uninterrupted 20 to 25km is my morning and evening ritual with three to four hours at the start of the day and three to four hours at the end. It’s the best time to avoid the heat to sustain energy levels, maintain rhythm and pace and when my mind completely turns off from all other distractions and achieves the goals I set.


My first two ventures, Cairns to Cape York (1014km) and 100 laps of Uluru (1060km) were both rewarding for very different reasons. I walked through red dust and along heavily corrugated dirt roads bustling with 4WDs to reach the most northern point of Australia while the laps of Uluru allowed me to see the norm far from normal every day and practice the skill of listening. These two treks also fine-tuned my endurance and tenacity. They presented me with many challenges as well as the ability to overcome these quickly and confidently. I also witnessed unforgettable displays of kindness, generosity and humanity. I encountered unexpected moments with wildlife and vividly remember how Mother Nature governed each day. There are many aspects of these two treks that I will savour for the rest of my life from combating watermelon-sized blisters, fallen arches, cuts, bruises, shin splints and a virus, wearing facemasks to keep my lungs free from red dust, eating a home-cooked beef stew at a 100-year old cattle station to witnessing the honouring of Australia’s last Indigenous tracker Barry Port, being asked by passer-byers if I wanted a beer at 10am, seeing a Bramwell Station Road Crew water truck U-turn to wet the dirt road for me and cleansing myself in a real shower and using a toilet with a proper seat. These situations may appear insignificant or trivial to some people but they further inspired me at different times throughout each trek.

In my book 1000 Cups of Concrete I write:

Cape York made it clear who was boss most days with its harsh road conditions and horrid stench of road kill but it also captivated me with serene antics of dust swirling across the road, howls at daybreak and a night sky free of light pollution.

There’s also this during my time with Uluru from The Ochre Cloak:

A shimmer started to form across Uluru’s face that defined her contours. Within half an hour there was no ochre in sight. Instead, Uluru had dressed herself in grey-sliver sequins and the rain fell harder and harder. Miniature canyons filled to the brim creating torrents that cascaded down the escarpments and Uluru took to the stage and conducted a symphony of waterfalls with prestige and grace.


Both treks have also given me rather rigorous lessons in how the mind can work with or against you. I realised having read Ron Grant’s journey around Australia, Cliff Young’s story, treks by Deborah De Williams as well as Robyn Davidson’s desert crossings that your mental state can deteriorate, but it can also rival the highest of hurdles, the brick wall in front of your face, the road block inside your head and your ultimate Everest. My mental training etches in detail what I wanted to achieve with each trek and I believe there’s no turning back once you make your mind up to do something no matter what that is; whether it’s to let go, forgive, go for that job you think you may not get, find pleasure in doing something you never find time for, or as an eight-year cancer survivor once told me, “kick cancer in the butt”. I have learnt and practice that making your mind up to do something is not about being stubborn or caught up in tunnel vision. It’s simply a conscious decision and one that can give you enormous satisfaction. It’s about giving your self the opportunity to say, I can accomplish. It’s an ability and we all have it.


As the start date to my third 1000km / 30 day Nullabor charity trek draws closer and my feet prepare to brace that long stretch of bitumen I think of the predecessors who’ve ‘done’ the Nullarbor and what got them across this former seabed successfully. I’ve noted that Australian hospitality was key to Garside and Koeppel’s triumphs and trust this will accompany me as I embark on the world’s largest karst, a semi-arid existence that I will welcome with every step from east to west.

Please follow me on the Nullarbor trek through my Facebook blog, which is Peta Burton and help me raise $10 000 for Foodbank, BlazeAid, Project Numbat & Tiwi Island Football .

Thank you Paddy Pallin for supplying my key meals throughout the 35-day Nullarbor charity trek and thank you Chris Mein, Tim Pallin and Dave Casey thank you for making this possible. As I said to you all, I’ll be wearing the Paddy Pallin logo with pride on my trek shirt.


BEGINS: July 23, 2016

ENDS:  August 27, 2016



DISTANCE: 1200km

FUNDRAISING FOR: Foodbank, BlazeAid, Project Numbat & Tiwi Island Football

BLOG: Peta Burton

DONATE: Nullarbor GoFundMe 


About The Author

Peta Burton

I’ve been working as a writer and photographer from the Northern Territory to India. I like to encounter the unexpected and spontaneous when uncovering someone’s story or capturing a moment in time. But to create words and images that truly speak to us nothing becomes more valuable than having a genuine lust for the world. Being curious takes you places

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