Thought 1Stick a pin in a map of Australia and chances are that you will find someone there who will be sufficiently concerned about climate change that they will be willing to host a group of half a dozen total strangers who are campaigning for climate change.
Give this a bit of thought. It really is a pretty remarkable thing, but Alan Cuthbertson proved it to be true when he organised this walk. He chose the route he wanted to walk, decided roughly where it would be good to stop every night, and then asked local people if they would be willing to put a small group up for the night. He found hosts for most of the nights of the walk.
Thought 2Why was I willing, even keen, to walk from Melbourne to Canberra? There are many answers to that question, here is one.
At the time of the walk I had two granddaughters, by 2018 I had three. In thirty or forty years it will be obvious to even the most pig headed and ignorant climate skeptic that climate change is a huge disaster. I would like my granddaughters to be able to say "my granddad walked 740km back in the olden days to try to get serious action on climate change". I would like to think that they would be proud of what I attempted, even if I achieved nothing. Also see my letter to my great-grandchildren.
Thought 3So far as I know the reality of anthropogenic climate change (ACC) is recognised by every government in the world, every scientific institution, every scientific organisation that has any interest in climate, and more than 99% of climate scientists.
Yet there is a significant proportion of Australians who believe it is not happening or it is not caused by mankind, and while our government does recognise ACC it is steadfastly supporting the fossil fuel industry, not supporting renewable energy and doing very little to reduce Australia's exceptionally high rate of greenhouse gas production. Under the circumstances, opposing action on climate change and opposing the introduction of renewable energy are crimes against humanity; indeed, crimes against the whole biosphere.
For those who don't know me, I'm the one on the left. Other long distance walkers in the photo are Margot Meredith near the front to the right of me, Martin Hengeveld behind her, June Norman by Martin's elbow and Alan Cuthbertson with the turtle on the right.
Again, that's me with the white beard. Margaret Hender had complained that there were not enough photos of me! This is one of Alan's shots.
The lady at the rear-left is Angela; her two sons are behind her. They were our hosts for the previous night, and they made us feel very welcome.
We walked a total of about 90km along the Great Victorian Rail Trail, which was one of the most pleasant parts of the walk (because of the lack of vehicle traffic); although there was no part of the walk that I did not enjoy.
The two vehicles were used throughout the walk, Martin's is on the left, Alan's is on the right.
This is a public road that crossed the rail trail.
Early morning waiting for the bus that was to take Jim and Margot home; at Bonnie Doon.
June and Martin.
Alan is the one picking up the rubbish, next to him is Martin, and on the right is Don Nicholson (who walked with us for almost a week).
Also see Clean-up, my page on my efforts to clean up local roadsides, and more on the conceptual connection between roadside rubbish and greenhouse gasses.
From left to right, Don, June, Martin and Alan.
We walked beside Winton Wetlands for about 18 kilometres.
Recently the dam has been breached because it was decided that the storage was of no value. This shows, yet again, how our environment can suffer from the ill-considered operations of humanity.
Winton Wetlands from Warbie Range
This image gives a better feel for the huge number of trees killed by the creation of Lake Mokoan.
We walked over a saddle in the Warbie Range after leaving the wetlands on the way to Wangaratta.
The rest of the road was very firm, but there was deep mud in the gutter.
We had two back-up vehicles at this point in the walk, Martin's van pulled Alan's out of this bog with little difficulty.
From left to right: Don, Martin, Alan, Jacquie, Cassandra and June. Jacquie and Cassandra joined us for most of the day's walk.
When I first heard the others talking about going to Wang I had no idea what they were talking about.
Early in the walk June insisted that we walk carefully keeping well on the right side of the road. Further into the walk we all were pretty relaxed about exactly where we walked on a quiet road, although we usually walked on the right side. We could, of course, hear a car approaching from behind well before it got close to us.
In regard to how we walked this walk was much more relaxed than the Walk for Solar Power that I had done two years earlier with a much bigger group. The Walkers for Solar Power were more controlled in exactly where they walked, reasonably so for a bigger group of generally much younger people.
Each piece of wood has a hole drilled in it and the native bees use these for their breeding.
There is a story to the shorts I am wearing. I neglected to bring any with me, but found the weather to be a bit warmer than I was expecting. I bought a pair at a goodwill store, but then left them behind at one of the many places we stayed. The shorts I am wearing in this photo are cut down jeans.
I only walked about 11km on this day (and not at all on the previous day); my feet, particularly the right Achilles tendon, were giving trouble. From this point my feet slowly improved.
My feet were giving trouble at this point so I drove the car ahead to wait for the other walkers. So I watched how the appearance of the landscape changed as the sunshine came and went and the morning mists gradually lifted.
This area was perhaps the most attractive country of the walk, but there were many beautiful places along the way.
My feet gave me an interesting day on this stretch.
We typically broke the day's walk up into five sections: two 8km sections followed by three 5km sections. Usually lunch follows the first 5km section.
On this day my feet were good on the first section, gave me quite a bit of pain (right Achilles tendon) on the second section, were fair on the third section, I skipped the forth section, and they were good on the last section. Odd, don't you think?
Garry and exchange student Daniel (from Denmark) joined us for two days from Tumbarumba. Garry McClelland, his wife Dianne and Daniel hosted us one night in Tumbarumba.
Walking on the road was Harry, who joined us at Culcairn, and Martin next to him carrying the flag.
We were between Tumut and Wee Jasper, in very sparsely settled country. With great good fortune we came across a little church that had a sheltered porch around lunch time. (I drove over the same route a few years later and placed a photo of the church on a page written about that trip.)
Harry, Martin, June and Me. Alan took the photo.
It was a much nicer day that the one before.
The road from Tumbarumba to Canberra was fairly hilly. The highest altitude we got to was about 1040m between Tumbarumba and Tumut.
Most of the traffic heading toward Canberra from Melbourne seems to go via Holbrook and Gundagai to Yass and then turns down southward to Canberra. The way we went, through Tumbarumba, Batlow, Tumut and Wee Jasper (see the map of the walk) had far less traffic and was more scenic. It is also a good road to drive if you want to enjoy the country rather than just getting to Canberra as quickly as possible.
From the left: walkers Harry, Martin, Alan and June. On the right is Bill Gresham who lives in Canberra, is a veteran of the Port Augusta to Adelaide Walk for Solar Power, is a good friend of mine, and who came to meet us (in his electric car if I remember rightly; it must have been pretty new then).
Perhaps readers will not be surprised to learn that PM Abbott was not on hand to accept the petition (of six hundred names and signatures) from us. He probably was busy kowtowing to some coal industry mogul.
This photo is looking from the top of Mount Ainsley toward the objective, Parliament House. The flag pole is visible in the distance.
On the right, with the sunlight nicely picking it out, is the Canberra city centre.
Old Parliament house in the middle distance, the new one on the rise behind it.
It seems that the Greens are the only political party who are particularly interested in the future of the planet.
They looked a bit intimidating, but were very polite and simply needed to know what we were doing.
From left to right, Senator Janet Rice (Australian Greens) with our petition, June, me, Alan, Daniel, Garry and Martin.
Others joined in for periods of a part of a day, a day, or several days; In particular Garry McClelland (of Tumbarumba) and Daniel (from Denmark) walked with us on the two days between Tumbarumba and Tumut, and then joined us again on the last day's walk from Mount Ainsley to Parliament House.
coal industry is facing a terminal decline which cannot come soon enough if the planet is to be spared terrible damage from climate change. However, there is so much money in the coal industry that many people in Australian politics, and not just on the right of the political spectrum, are pushing for continued support for the coal industry. They are backing a dying horse.
Gas was in decline by late 2020By late 2020 the fossil gas industry was also in decline in spite of the best efforts of the very dishonest Australian Energy Minister, Angus Taylor and the Morrison government to keep it going. The federal government (and the federal Labor party) seem not be be able to see beyond fossil fuels, but in late 2020 the states are all moving quickly toward renewable energy.
It would not be cheap or easy, nor could it be done quickly.
Something like 80% renewables would be much easier than 100%, but even 100%
is possible in the long term.
SA experience has shown that Australia could get rid of its coal-fired power stations and replace them with renewables such as wind and solar. SA went from near zero renewable electricity in early 2003 to close to 40% renewables by 2014. In fact 43% of SA's electricity was generated by wind alone in the month of July 2014.
In the short term gas-fired power stations could be used to 'fill the gaps' when renewable energy was not available (gas has about half the greenhouse emissions of coal, and produces far less other air pollution); in the longer term Australia could change to 100% renewables-generated electricity.abate more greenhouse gasses than it releases.
climate change, ocean acidification and sea level rise. Even worse than fossil gas and oil is coal; not only does the burning of coal release large amounts of greenhouse gasses, millions of people die each year from the air pollution due to burning coal. It could be said that with Australia's coal export industry, we are exporting death.
This was a walk that I took part in two years earlier than the climate walk. It was about 325km, started at Port Augusta and finished in Adelaide. The aim of the walk was to press for the replacement of the coal fired power stations at Port Augusta with solar thermal.
The over 50s on the Walk for Solar, September 2012
Note the smoke plume from the Northern (coal-fired) Power Station on the left.
From left to right: Margaret Henda (of CORENA), Pete Gorton, John Bowman, Marty O'Hare, Gaby Jung, me (with grey beard), Bill Gresham and Les Webb.
Les, in his 50s, was the only one of the eight less than 60 years old. All the other walkers were less than 40.
On the steps of Parliament House, Adelaide, at the end of the walk
There was a rally at the end of the walk.
The people with the blue shirts are some of those who did the walk. There were around 50 who were involved for the whole walk.
More photos of the 2012 walk are in a Flickr album.
You, the reader, might wonder: what can I do to help in the fight to minimise climate change? You might well feel that you are powerless. You are far from powerless. A few suggestions:
Or you can contact me; contact details in About me.
It would be very useful if you asked the cross-bench senators to press for strong action on climate change.
Canary Island example
Climate change impact near me
Coal is in decline
Map of the walk
Mid North SA, the first greenhouse negative region in Australia
Photos of the walk
Photos: Australian Capital Territory
Photos: New South Wales
SA is showing what could be done
Some good news
What can you do?
Walk for Solar Power, 2012
What was achieved?
Who were the walkers?
On another page...
Why support wind power?
Why I support the local wind farm proposal