Day 458 | Marrinup camping area: and for the first time in a while he stops early

35 km | Heading west total: 16,518 km

It was registering 2°C on my little thermometer when I jumped up this morning.

So now I’m wearing two threadbare T shirts. How come I didn’t think of that earlier?

I managed to keep my hands dry, smart move, while packing up. It helps to sleep in a three walled shelter in that you don’t have to roll up a soaking tent.

Should I mention my gloves as well?

Reveal it all boy.

OK, I used my spare beenie with my hand inside a plastic bag as a glove. Fingerless just provides a little too much early morning ventilation.

No, there was no one else around fortunately.

Gear changing was an issue but I did have a (cold) free hand for the rear brake. Makes you wonder how the pioneers managed.

I was listening to a podcast the other day when Michael Cathcart, a well known Australian historian and broadcaster was asked about Gallipoli. That resonates here as the slaughter of Australian, along with other troops from the British Empire, in a futile invasion of Turkey in the early days of the First World War in the last 19th century style engagement before war became a mechanised destruction machine. In the last 15 years this has been seen by many patriots as the defining moment of the new Australian nation, which had been recently created by the amalgamation of various British Colonies in 1901.

He explained why a military disaster came to be regarded so reverently in terms of an 1891 Australian poem, Where the dead men lie by Barcroft Boake.

“We know ourselves if we go out into the desert, we find out who we are where the dead men lie. That melancholy resonates throughout the 19th century with Henry Lawson as most articulate spokesperson. Somehow in folly and despair and anarchy in the madness of something called The Bush we find out who we are. Gallipoli fitted that paradigm of an Australia longing for self realisation in despair and annihilation. There was a ready made nationalism based on sadness and melancholia. We forget this now. Bush nationalism is about despair.”

Despite my observations about life on the trail I’m not despairing.

It’s always been clear that being out here wouldn’t reveal anything particularly new.

It’s more been about getting back to the essentials of life to things that I have known for a very long time.

There’s a world out here, interesting, lovely and very real he observes as the sun goes down in a cloudless, still sky and the profusion of birds sounding their usual cacophony.