The Illawarra’s lush green scenery and smooth pavements were a welcome relief to 18-year-old Alex Cooke on Thursday, after he’s battled dry outback roads, 40-degree heat and dust storms on the long walk from Melbourne over the past month.
The teenager decided to complete the gruelling 1060-kilometre journey from Melbourne to Sydney to raise funds for beyondblue, after seeing many of his friends affected by depression and anxiety.
‘‘It’s been heartbreaking to see some of the best people I know struggle with depression,’’ Alex said.
‘‘I feel very strongly about the work of beyondblue in helping people seek treatment and take back control of their lives.’’
Since January 1, Alex has run or walked an average of 42 kilometres a day.
He is looking forward to taking the final steps of his journey in Bondi on Australia Day.
Yesterday he walked from Shellharbour to Thirroul, and today he will continue along the scenic Sea Cliff Bridge and through the Royal National Park to Sutherland.
‘‘I’m feeling pretty good now, my body has adapted,’’ he said, when stopping for lunch and an interview at Wollongong.
‘‘The third and fourth days of my walk were the trickiest, because that was when I had sugar withdrawals and my dad had to support me quite a lot over the following few days.
‘‘My blisters popped up, I was really hot and I was in the outback, so there was no shade.’’
Donations to beyondblue can be made on Alex's Everyday Hero page.