On Friday morning, Windang’s Steve Quirk took the first steps of his six-month trek across Australia and back to raise funds for the Cancer Council.
He set out from Flagstaff Hill in Wollongong, heading towards Fremantle in Western Australia, with a support vehicle in tow.
Mr Quirk was inspired by his late stepfather’s battle with throat cancer last year and the advice patients generally receive to ‘‘take one step at a time’’.
‘‘The hardest thing is knowing they’re not going to be around to see you any more, besides the pain and suffering,’’ he said.
‘‘The walk will be physically demanding and difficult, though it’s nothing compared to what people who are battling cancer endure every day.
‘‘I guess my only concern is during the hot months, there’s Australia’s wildlife, mainly snakes.’’
Crossing through Australia’s outback, he will have to endure extreme hot and cold temperatures.
He spent several hours a day on a treadmill to prepare for the trek and has packed hundreds of plasters, eight pairs of shoes, 10 shirts, six pairs of jeans and plenty of socks.
He hopes to raise $10,000 for the Cancer Council and speak with several community groups along his 8000km trip, as he passes through Wagga Wagga, Mildura, Port Augusta, Norseman and Coolgardie.
If the traveller maintains an average of 50 kilometres a day, he is likely to return to Wollongong in June.
His support vehicle driver Garry Jones from Tumblong said he found Mr Quirk’s ad on Gumtree and joined in the expedition.
‘‘It gives me something to do for six months.’’
Although he would miss his family, it was for an important cause.
‘‘There’s a lot of families in Australia that have been touched by cancer, certainly friends and relatives of mine,’’ he said.
Cancer Council southern regional manager Toby Dawson said he was impressed when Mr Quirk approached the council.
‘‘We’ve been marvelling at the enormity of what he’s about to undertake,’’ Mr Dawson said.
‘‘For everything we’ve researched, we can’t find anyone who has done the return trip,’’ he said.
‘‘It’s going to be a tough six months and we’re with him every step of the way.’’
To donate, see here.