All Images: Peta BurtonNULLUS ARBOR Crossing the Nullarbor by Foot Peta Burton September 20, 2016 Athletes, Environmentalism, Fitness, Sponsorship I can’t get enough of the world so I trek to help appease the endless appetite I have for the planet. However embarking on and achieving a personal challenge is also part of my motivation to put one foot in front of the other. My feet have faced a range of road conditions over the last three years having trekked 1014km from Cairns to the most northern tip of the country, 1060km around Uluru and now 1200km across the Nullarbor. As I sit and write this article I’m quenching a cold drink soaking in some of the heat I’ve missed while trekking along the Eyre Highway during an exceptionally crisp July and August. However, the operative word here is ‘sit’ after only finishing the 1200km, venture a day or two ago. In fact, it was actually 1200.1km. The one-month trek across the Nullus Arbor, which many may know means ‘no trees’, was also a charity trek that raised funds for Foodbank NT, BlazeAid WA/SA, Project Numbat and Tiwi Islands Football. I chose to fundraise for these organisations for various personal reasons and to further share their positive and impactful work. The Nullarbor Charity Trek began on a clear yet windy Ceduna day with my two-person support crew (and their three dogs) armed with a barrage of food, including 70 serves of freeze-dried, Back Country Beef and Pasta Hotpot (thanks Paddy Pallin for this in-kind support, it’s darn tasty food!) and several hundred litres of drinking water for 30-35 days of crewing along the world’s largest karst. The trek ended on day 31 with my blister-free feet deciding they had energy to burn, so I ran the last 20km. However, apart from food and water, eight to 12 hours of trekking a day requires a sound mindset especially when most of that time is spent alone. Your head is your most valuable asset like any necessary piece of trekking equipment as I’ve learnt from previous treks. ‘My mental training has truly etched in detail what I want to achieve. I realised having read Ron Grant’s journey around Australia, Cliff Young’s story, treks by Deborah De Williams and others who have conquered ventures on foot 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. 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.’ (Excerpt from the Cairns to the tip trek book, 1000 Cups of Concrete). Know matter what the day delivers, your mind simply must remain in tact because even the elements will gnaw away at your thoughts let alone body. ‘Today I went to war against the wind. At 7.40am a relentless headwind drew its sword and from then we battled. Despite having the sun and a straight road as close allies nothing was going to stop 33km p/hr and gusts to 41km p/hr from the east-northeast. Throughout the day I felt hunched like I was from Notre Dame, other times I longed for a safe haven amongst the low lying shrubs. But as I scanned the fairly baron surroundings I realised I was just like it; bearing the brunt of the untamed elements. The spinifex was arched over and if I walked closer to it I could hear it rustle and hiss. The saltbush branches were being tossed left to right, back to front. Small, flowering bushes tried to stand to attention but the wind also found their weakness. We were all united in the lashing we were enduring so I had to make a stand. I had to lead my army, besides I was not going to beg for the wind to stop. Leaders don’t do that. I understood my opponent well and knew its agenda. It can force you into a corner, it can make you throw up your arms and surrender, it can drown out your voice, it can strip you of energy and it can crumble your will power and dilute your focus. The wind started to erode the front defences of my armor but it wouldn’t succeed in penetrating it any further. I looked up as a gust hit me. My shades, beanie and scarf shielded me well. Another blast came, then another and water began dripping down the outer corners of my eyes. Another gust shoved me sideways, then the other way. I was being shaken like a rag doll. The bombs of wind continued for four hours but I marched forward unwilling to let the wind beat me. As I gained momentum on enemy territory I looked around to see my army of flora beside me and up ahead a fortress ready with lunch and a cuppa. 35.5km and I won today’s battle. I will look to my allies as the enemy returns tomorrow with a NE 22 to 32km.’ (Excerpt from the Nullarbor trek book, Walk With Nullus Arbor). People often ask me why I trek but there is no finite answer. There are many reasons and some of these I’ve described throughout my Nullarbor venture. However, I understand the purpose of this question yet prefer to just look at the fact that, I am (trekking). I think this is what matters most. To decide to see the world is one thing but then to act on that decision and bring it to life means you’ve given yourself the freedom to do what you want. This is not always so straightforward as a number of factors naturally govern or influence our decisions from work, family and finance to health, age, goals and confidence. But to be honest if you really want to do something, nothing or no one is stopping you. During my treks I’ve met several people who’ve made the call to do something that gives them fulfillment. They’ve found how to do this in very different ways but the point is they’ve made it possible. Whether it’s selling up and living a life on the road with your better half, discovering that you long for more than what your job can satisfy or, at 72 years of age, walking across the country, the common denominator for each of these real life examples is that each is achievable. None discriminate and any one of us can embark on such journeys. When we replace ‘permission’ with ‘opportunity’, when we avoid societies’ expectations or limitations and when we trust our selves and our instincts we have the scope to not just survive but thrive. Being in control of your decisions allows you to live without barriers or burdens and this invites endless capacity. I believe trekking is also a platform to hardwire a greater self esteem, self-confidence, self-awareness and self worth. You need to think on your feet at times with few options or sometimes many, consider consequences and/or impact, make a decision and move forward. Sometimes it may not be the desired outcome but the choice to make that outcome is empowering and often sheds its disguise as a turning point or lesson. Trekking also creates limitless space to think outside of your own four walls and leave yourself open to new, fresh or different thoughts. To be free of noise and the distractions of this millennium brings great calm, clarity, focus, ideas, interests, and purpose. All can benefit. Trekking doesn’t need to be solo and it doesn’t need to be just on foot. You can see the world in many ways but you must see it. So go make footprints! NULLUS ARBOR FUNDRAISING FOR: Foodbank, BlazeAid, Project Numbat and Tiwi Football DONATE: www.gofundme/nullarbor Leave a Reply Cancel Reply Your email address will not be published.CommentName* Email* Website Notify me of follow-up comments by email. Notify me of new posts by email.