Jacob French is on an imperial march with a difference.
Dressed in his 8kg Stormtrooper outfit, the 21-year-old walked through Wollongong’s southern suburbs yesterday afternoon, to the amusement - and bewilderment - of Easter drivers.
It was the latest leg in the quirky West Australian’s ‘‘Troopertrek’’, a 5000km journey from Perth to Sydney to raise money for the Starlight Children’s Foundation.
‘‘I just got this Forrest Gump idea in my head - that I could walk across Australia - so I thought I could do that and give people a laugh along the way,’’ Mr French explained.
‘‘I wanted to make it more fun for people, and I was already part of a group called the 501st Legion where we put on Star Wars costumes, visit the kids in hospital and do different fundraisers, so I thought I’d just combine the two ideas.’’
The result has taken the Perth sales assistant on a wild adventure across the Nullarbor, through the hilly outskirts of Adelaide and up the East Coast - in both the heat and rain.
During that time Mr French has replaced four sets of tyres on his 50kg trolley of supplies and worn through seven pairs of shoes.
It hasn’t been the easiest trip for the Star Wars devotee, who has also endured tough weather, severe chafing, a relationship break-up, a lonely 21st birthday and countless other setbacks.
‘‘It has taken a lot longer than I expected,’’ he said.
‘‘I started out last July and I originally planned to finish between November and December, but obviously I’m still going, so it has taken me nearly twice as long ... with the extra time it takes and the amount of people who have been stopping me along the way.
‘‘And I turned 21 on the Nullarbor and there was no-one around. You really miss those sorts of celebrations when you expect to be around your friends and family.’’
There is light at the end of the tunnel, however, with Mr French planning to reach his Sydney destination on Wednesday, having raised a whopping $90,000 of his $100,000 fundraising target.
People can see photos, track his progress or find out how to make a donation by visiting Mr French’s