After returning to San Antonio from Brisbane following my last walking day on 15 March, I’ve had a few days to collect my thoughts on the 76 days I spent in Australia; the culture I experienced, the scenery I observed, and all those beautiful and welcoming people I met that made this such a memorable trip. 

I’ll start first by saying I’ve now walked through three continents, made up of 9 countries, covering over 6100 miles, and I am yet to experience one single situation where I felt threatened or uncomfortable in anyway with the people or the environment I found myself in. There is a lot of bad news on TV and social media, but for this traveler, no one was ever rude or threatening to me in any way. There is a world full of nice people out there and I’ve met thousands of them first hand. 

On this walk in Australia, unlike my walk coast-to-coast across America, and my walk from Greece to Norway across Europe, I cannot take credit for walking “across Australia”.  I only went for a walk “in” Australia. I think most of us have no idea how big Australia really is. For example, I walked from Melbourne in the far south to Brisbane on Australia’s east coast.  That’s basically half way across Australia from south to north; about 1200 miles. However, that is approximately the same distance as from Seattle, Wa to San Diego, Ca. So Australia is almost twice as big as the U.S. going north to south. So basically I walked about halfway across Australia. 

Some observations I found interesting, and refreshing, as I walked. First, Aussies follow their rules and laws. I rarely saw someone who was clearly speeding based on the other traffic around them. Also, pedestrians almost never jaywalk. Locals will stand at a street corner and wait until the signal says they can cross the street no matter how obvious it is that there are no cars coming. Also, in 1200+ miles, I never once saw a driver using their cell phone. I saw plenty of cars stopped on the shoulder of the road with the driver talking, but never while driving. This is probably partly due to the $1500 first offense/no questions asked fine you get if you’re caught driving and using your cell phone. 

One thing that affected me everyday that was hard to adjust to, and honestly was quite annoying, was the fact that Aussie drivers have little regard for pedestrians. For example, if I were crossing a street at an intersection that had a stop sign for vehicles, in the U.S., most pedestrians would feel they had the right of way to safely cross the street because the car had a stop sign. Not in Australia. Pedestrians have no right of way. You’ll get run right over, honked at, or asked to “watch out mate” if you try to cross in front of a car that’s stopped at a stop sign. I learned this on about day two. 

Another situation I experienced almost daily; most Australians have a high interest in American politics. Anytime I spent more than a few minutes with a group of locals, the political situation and upcoming election in the U.S. would be a topic of discussion, and not because I brought the subject up. It usually revolved around something like “can’t you Americans find two people out of 300+ million that are more qualified than the two you’ve got running?”  Now what do you say to that without it turning into an all night discussion?  

I found it very easy to get from place to place even though I had no vehicle. Australia has a good train system near the major cities, and a bus network that covers the entire country. No matter where I found myself needing a ride at the end of my walking day, transportation was available. And as a last resort, hitching a ride is alive and well too. I used this option several times and never waited long for a ride. 

Things are expensive in Australia.  I generally paid about 25-30% more for a meal in Australia than I would have in the U.S.  My walking shoes that I pay $80 for in the U.S. were $160 in Sydney.  Two exceptions for the high cost was lodging and transportation. A standard motel room was about the same price in Australia as in the U.S and the train and bus system is subsidized by the government so the fares for riding them were cheap. 

Australians love their tattoos. A much larger percentage of the population has one or more tattoos than in the U.S.  And this is true no matter what group you might look at. Young, old, male, female, rich, poor; it doesn’t seem to matter. There are tattoos everywhere you look in Australia. 

There must be more recreational vehicles in Australia than anywhere else on earth. Aussies call their campers “caravans” and they dominate the roads, especially on weekends. Most are campers pulled behind cars or trucks.  Rarely, if ever, did I see a Class A motor coach going down the road. But on Friday afternoons and Sunday mornings it seemed like every other vehicle was pulling a camper. 

Aussies don’t seem to be nearly as enamored with their national flag as Americans. In the U.S. the American flag is displayed everywhere you look. You can’t drive a city block without seeing a flag flying in front of a business or home. Not true in Australia. I went days without noticing the Southern Cross flying on a flag pole. 

Like in America, I noticed big differences in the “strength” of the Aussie accent. Some people I could understand very easily, while others I could hardly make out anything they were saying. And it didn’t seem to matter if they were old or young, male or female, or what area of the country they were in. 

As a country, it seemed like Australia and its people were trying very hard to make amends between their Aboriginal people and the rest of its population. I could see this in TV programming, advertising, and just an overall inclusion of the aboriginal culture into everyday life in Australia. It was really nice to see. 

So I think I’ll wrap it up with one final thought. I had a great time experiencing the Australian culture during their summer of ‘24. It was all I hoped for and much more. These long walks are never easy, but the positive always outweighs the negative; thus I keep going back for more. However, I’m confident this will be my last long walk. I’ll keep walking, but I’ll start and finish in my own driveway from here on out. Once again, thank you all for being loyal followers; some of you since my first walk in 2015. I’ve cherished your comments and encouragement. JB. 

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Day 76

Start:  Woodridge Station

Finish:  Brisbane Central Station

Distance:  15

Total:  1211

Today I completed my walk from Melbourne in the south of Australia to Brisbane on Australia’s Pacific coast. It was a good day of walking through suburban and inner city neighborhoods with overcast skies and moderate temperatures. 

I was anxious to get going this morning so I had breakfast at the hotel and then caught the 7:30 train for a 45 minute ride to the Woodridge Station.  Unlike my train rides the previous two days which were express trains, today’s train route stopped at every single station between Central Station where I got on in downtown Brisbane and Woodridge where I got off. We must have stopped at 20 stations in a distance of only 15 miles. No wonder it took 45 minutes to get there. 

Once I got started, I was walking on sidewalks in business districts and right through residential neighborhoods. Once I reached my halfway point, I was on a four lane street that lead straight downtown. With two miles to go I could see the tall buildings coming up and knew I would be crossing a river using a pedestrian bridge as I walked the final half mile into the city. So at that point I called a time out for lunch. 

There was a cafe advertising itself as a real Texas barbecue brisket restaurant right on my route. So I thought OK; we’ll just see about that.  I had a BBQ brisket sandwich. We can stop right there. No Texas BBQ brisket joint with any credibility puts coleslaw on a brisket sandwich. I know they do in other states, but I personally have not seen it in Texas. But this Aussie BBQ brisket joint laid on the coleslaw like there was no tomorrow. It turned out OK because I was hungry, but these guys need to come to Camp Brisket at Texas A&M sometime in the future. 

After lunch there was only one thing left and that was to walk down the street, over the bridge, and finish my trek. The bridge actually feeds right into the Brisbane City Botanic Gardens which was a nice finishing touch; it had a sort of calming effect before hitting the hustle of the streets just ahead. I finally made it to the Central Station to wrap up my walk. It’s only a few blocks from my hotel. 

Tomorrow I fly home. I leave here Saturday morning but I gain a day enroute so even though it takes 1 1/2 days to get home to San Antonio I still get there Saturday night. 

In closing I want to thank all of you for following along with my journal entries this time around. It really is a motivator to know people are interested. In the next few days I’ll post an epilogue entry to summarize my thoughts for this trip. Please watch for that. Also, I have posted one last video that can be viewed by tapping on the video tab on this website or you can watch it on YouTube. JB. 

Crossing into downtown Brisbane and the conclusion of my Australia trek.

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Day 75

Start:  Coomera Station

Finish:  Woodridge Station

Distance:  23

Total:  1196

Today was a long day, partly by design, partly because I messed up. I’ll explain. 

The day started as planned by taking the train from Central Station in Brisbane back out to Coomera Station where I stopped walking yesterday. The train ride was just over an hour and I started walking at 9:15 in a slight drizzle. I started the day still about 40 miles south of downtown Brisbane so most of my walking today was in the country, but along bike trails. 

One thing that’s been happening for the last couple of days has been my feet have suddenly decided I haven’t been paying enough attention to them, or I’ve been ignoring them. But for whatever reason, recently by mid-day they have started to ache really bad. It’s like they’re saying hey, don’t forget us down here. We’re getting tired you know. So today about noon, my feet were really hurting, especially my toes, and I wanted to take the Motrin I had in my pocket, but I had not eaten anything since 7:00 and I knew not to take the Motrin on an empty stomach. Just about that time, as I was beginning to noticeably limp a little, a Subway shop appeared. So I stopped and ate lunch, put on dry socks, and took the Motrin. I sat there for about an hour, which is much longer than I normally take for lunch, hoping my feet would start to feel better.  And they did; but while I was focusing on my feet, I lost focus on the time. I needed to catch a train at 4:19 at the Loganlea train station or I would be waiting an hour for the next train. 

With a new sense of motivation and urgency, but not very much spring in my step, I hustled down the road to catch my train. I’ve gotten pretty good at doing a running calculation every mile or two on whether I’m ahead or behind schedule, and in this case, I was behind and didn’t think I was going to make it to the station on time. I picked up the pace, though I wasn’t getting full support from my still somewhat aching feet. With two miles to go, I was confident I was going to miss the train by 3-4 minutes if it was on time, and the trains usually leave right on time. As I got to the station, there was no train, and no people waiting around for the train, so I just missed it. So I went with Plan B. 

The next train would be along in one hour. Three miles down the tracks, along my route tomorrow, lies Woodridge Station. I can walk three miles in an hour without a problem. So instead of just sitting idle for the next hour waiting on the train, I walked three more miles to Woodridge Station, got there before the next train, and knocked three miles off tomorrow’s distance. Now I’m glad I missed the first train. 

Speaking of tomorrow, it’s my last walking day. Tomorrow morning I’ll take the train 15 miles out to Woodridge Station and walk back here to Brisbane’s Central Station. And that’s all I’ve got to say about that. JB. 

Catching the train into Brisbane at the end of the day.

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Day 74

Start:  Surfers Paradise

Finish:  Coomera Station

Distance:  17

Total:  1173

I left Surfers Paradise this morning under clear, blue skies and high humidity. Despite the thick air, it was a good day for walking. 

I headed out the door at 8:30 with a goal of reaching my destination, the Coomera train station 17 miles away in time to catch the 3:00 train to Brisbane. I stopped for breakfast at a McDonalds about an hour down the road from my motel and I was full of energy after that. I had sidewalks for most of the day and I walked past two large water parks and two large theme parks along my route. Even though it’s summertime here, school is in session and the parks were not crowded at all. 

When I had about two hours left to walk to the train station I decided to stop and get some lunch. At that point I could spend about 45 minutes eating and still make it on time to catch the train. As I was wrapping up things at the Chinese restaurant, the couple at the table next to mine inquired about where I was walking to, and before you know it, I was in serious danger of missing my train. I ended up making it with three minutes to spare. 

The train ride took an hour to reach the Central station in downtown Brisbane. My hotel is a few blocks from the station and will be my resting place for the next three nights. Tomorrow I’ll take the train back out to Coomera Station and walk to Loganlea Station. That’s a 20 mile day. Then on Friday I’ll walk the last 18 miles from Loganlea to downtown Brisbane.  

So that’s the plan. Two more days of walking and then I’ll be heading home. JB. 

Plenty of theme and water parks along my route today.

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Day 73

Start:  Tweed Heads

Finish:  Surfers Paradise

Distance:  15

Total:  1156

Today was one long, continuous, flat sidewalk. It’s a good thing I had the sidewalk because the traffic was bumper-to-bumper and there was road construction everywhere. 

Last night’s motel in Tweed Heads was literally one block from the state line between New South Wales and Queensland. NSW and Queensland are in the same time zone, but NSW does daylight savings time and Queensland does not. So I knew that immediately after leaving my motel this morning I would be moving my watch back one hour. With that in mind I intentionally left an hour later than normal. I walked out at 9:00, went across the street for breakfast, started walking at 9:30, moved my watch back an hour, and suddenly found myself an hour ahead. 

Like I said, I was walking on sidewalks and bike paths all day. Just a block to my right was the beach with a pedestrian walkway so for about 4-5 miles I moved over onto the beach walkway. It was a nice change and got me away from the noisy traffic. 

By lunch I was getting into the south edge of Gold Coast. Gold Coast is a very large city south of Brisbane with a population of about 640,000.  It’s famous for its beaches and nightlife. There are many high rise hotels and apartment buildings lining the streets within 2-3 blocks of the beach running for several miles north to south. A suburb of Gold Coast is Surfers Paradise where I’m staying tonight. One of the noteworthy buildings in Surfers Paradise is Q-1, the worlds 5th tallest residential building and the tallest building in the southern hemisphere. 

Tomorrow I really start wrapping this adventure up. I walk 17 miles to a train station south of Brisbane where at the end of the day I’ll take the train to my last motel located in downtown Brisbane. I’ll be staying there my last three nights and take the train each day back out to where I stopped walking the previous day. I’ve got three walking days left. JB. 
* I posted a new video. View it by clicking the video tab at the top of this website.

Late afternoon on the beach at Surfers Paradise.
Q-1 in Surfers Paradise; tallest building in the southern hemisphere.
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Day 72

Start:  Pottsville

Finish:  Tweed Heads

Distance:  15

Total:  1141

Today was the last day I will be walking in the countryside of Australia. I’ve reached Tweed Heads, a coastal city 64 miles south of Brisbane and the last town in New South Wales. From here on I’ll be walking in cities all day. 

I got out the door around 8:30 today and had a nice bike trail to walk on for my first 3-4 miles. I was walking from one little beach town to the next most of the morning and even though it’s a weekday, the traffic was heavy, probably because there’s only one road into and out of these beach towns and it’s a two lane road. At lunchtime I happened upon a Woolies (Woolworth) shopping center so I stopped to eat a bite, then pressed on. 

As usual, right after noon the showers started to form. When it rains it doesn’t amount to much but it is a hassle deciding whether to cover up or not. For the last couple of weeks I’ve been putting the rain cover on my pack before I leave the motel in the morning to keep from needing to do it later. With my pack covered it can rain a little harder before I need to cover up with the poncho. In other words, I don’t mind getting a little wet so long as everything inside my pack stays dry. But today when I was about four miles from my motel it rained hard enough that I had to get the poncho out. 

I made it to my motel about 3:00. Tomorrow I leave New South Wales and enter Queensland. I walk 15 miles through an area called the Gold Coast. It’s wall-to-wall high rise hotels and apartments, much like Miami Beach. It’s famous for its beaches and especially surfing beaches. Tomorrow night I stay in a city called Surfer’s Paradise which is part of the Gold Coast. 

That’s all for my Monday. I hope everyone had a great weekend. JB. 
* I posted a new video today. Watch it by selecting the “Video” tab at the top of the website.

Hastings Point Lookout just north of Pottsville, NSW.

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Day 71

Start:  Brunswick Heads

Finish:  Pottsville

Distance:  15

Total:  1126

I had one of my tougher walking days today, even though it wasn’t particularly long. The route was difficult and the humidity was stifling so I was glad to get it over with. 

I had a good nights rest in Brunswick Heads and was not in a big hurry to leave this morning. I walked a quarter mile into town to eat breakfast then went back to my motel and finally left about 9:30. 

As you know, I use Google Maps to navigate on my route, usually selecting the walking option. The first part of my route was along a two lane road that paralleled the freeway. Then I was suppose to turn off the road and from the overhead image on my phone it looked like I would be walking through a very large campground or fairground. It was labeled “Splendour In The  Grass” on Google Maps. That meant absolutely nothing to me. So when I got to the point where I was suppose to turn into this large campground place, there was a locked gate across the road keeping traffic out. I just went around the gate and proceeded to follow the route on my phone. In this place there were many bathroom facilities with showers, a general store, an amphitheater, and miles and miles of paved and gravel roads leading to different campsite communities. It was very elaborately set up and organized. But strangely, I didn’t see a single camper, or person for that matter, anywhere during my two mile walk through this huge campground. 

Once I got to the far side of this large unoccupied campground, my map directed me to turn off the campground road and follow another straight road for about one mile. Unfortunately, sometimes you can’t clearly tell beforehand what kind of road it’s directing you onto.  In this case it was a grown over grass road through a farmers pasture that was waste deep in wet grass from an earlier shower.  So I spent the next 30 minutes wallowing through this wet grass, hoping I wasn’t going to finally meet one of those Australian snakes everyone raves about. But I made it to the end of the farmers pasture, only to be met by a locked gate that had an electric fence hooked to each end of the gate. So I needed to climb over the gate, but I couldn’t tell if the gate was actually electrically charged or just the fence on each end. I stood there and studied it for a couple of minutes in my wet shoes, socks and pants I had just gotten from walking through the wet grass. It didn’t look electric; but what does electric look like?  I couldn’t see where the wires from the fence connected to the gate. Besides, who in their right mind would electrify the gate. That would make no sense. So I touched it with my walking staff. Nothing. Good. So over the gate I climbed and headed onto the road just ahead, wet from the waste down but alive. 

With about six miles left to my destination, the road I was walking on got very close to the beach and basically stayed within 10-20 yards of the ocean the rest of the way to Pottsville. There were occasionally trees blocking my view but the surf was very heavy and I could definitely hear it for the next two hours. I made it to Pottsville, a nice little beach town, at about 3:00 and immediately stopped at the local tavern for lunch. I was running on empty having not had anything to eat since 8:00 this morning. 

One last thing. When I checked in to my motel, I was telling the nice receptionist, Julie, about my walking route through the huge, empty campground. It didn’t immediately spur her memory so I showed her on my Google Maps. Then she saw that I had walked through “Splendour In The Grass”.  She explained that this is the Aussie’s version of “Burning Man” and of course that only happens once per year. So it all makes perfect sense now. But I must say, that was one big campground. That’s it for my Sunday. Thanks for following along. JB. 

Walking along the Pacific shoreline on Day 71.
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Day 70

Start:  Bangalow

Finish:  Brunswick Heads

Distance:  17

Total:  1111

Today got off to a slow start. After an awesome dinner meal at the Corner Cartel Mexican restaurant and a good night’s rest at the Bangalow Guesthouse last night, I woke this morning, walked a quarter mile into town for breakfast, returned back to the lodge, got packed up to hit the road, and it started pouring down rain. It came one rain shower after another for a good two hours. Checkout time was 10:00, so I moved out of my room onto the back porch to relax and wait out the rain.  But I wasn’t lonesome. I had Tony and Maggie to keep me company. 

Tony “Buck” and Maggie Buckley are two super-nice people from Manchester, England, who were staying in the room right next to mine in the main Guesthouse. I briefly met them yesterday afternoon when I arrived but with the rain delay this morning we had time to sit and talk on the porch watching it rain. Tony and Maggie are in Australia on vacation, just traveling around and seeing the sites. We talked about all sorts of things, just relaxing and listening to the rain fall on the tin roof of that amazing lodge. 

The rain finally stopped about 10:30 and I started walking. I immediately started a fairly steep climb that lasted about three miles. Bangalow had been located in a valley surrounded by hills. After my climb I had gained 1000’ in elevation and reached a scenic overlook where you could see for miles, including several beach towns lined up along the coast. Once I crested the hill, it was a steep descent back to sea level. 

I reached my day’s destination, Brunswick Heads, about 3:00. The Aussies use the word “Heads” in the names of their towns much like we use the word “Point.”  For example Cypress Point in California. It just means where the land along the coastline forms a point, or head, sticking out in the ocean.  So for the next three days I’m walking from one beach town to the next until I reach the southern suburbs of Brisbane on Wednesday. 

While sitting around the pool at my hotel tonight I met two more super nice people; Brad and Rose Hartshorn from the Gold Coast area. They’re in town for the weekend for a concert but it got cancelled so we had time to talk for a while. They were very nice and had a million questions about my walk. 

I think that’s about it for my awesome Aussie Saturday. I hope your weekend is a good one. JB

Meet my new friends; Tony and Maggie Buckley from Manchester, UK.

This is nice couple Brad and Rose Hartshorn.
It’s still hilly along the east coast.
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Day 69

Start:  West Ballina

Finish:  Bangalow

Distance:  17

Total:  1094

After an amazing night of rest last night in a real motel room, today turned out to be a good day on the road.  

With only 17 miles to walk today, and a firm NET checkin time of 2:00 PM at my next lodging location, I wasn’t in a big rush to leave this morning. I bought some things for breakfast last night at a local grocery store to eat in my room so I didn’t get on the road until 8:45. 

My route early-on went somewhat out of the way to get me out of town and onto my main route, but once I hit the main road I found myself on a busy, two lane highway with very many steep hills. I was near the freeway all day and I could see how their roadway was much more level than mine which went to the top and bottom of every slope. In addition, I got three unexpected, and unforecasted rain showers today. Luckily I was close to an overpass when one hit so I ducked under there for a few minutes until the rain passed. The other two I was not as lucky and decided to shelter under the canopy of some thick trees for both of them. I didn’t get too wet but did put my pack rain cover on. 

I made it to my destination of Bangalow at about 3:00. I’m staying in a super cool guesthouse. It would be called a B&B but they don’t serve breakfast. It has one main building with four guest rooms, one of which I’m occupying, and three stand-alone cottages, all on three acres.  The main house was built in 1903 and the original owners, a prominent local business man and his wife, lived here with their 13 children. If you like shiplap walls and ceilings, this is the place for you.  As an added bonus, it comes with a tree in the back full of large fruit bats. 

Tomorrow I walk 17 miles north to the beach town of Brunswick Heads. That’s it for my Friday. I hope your week went well. JB. 

My home for the night; The Bangalow Guesthouse.
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Day 68

Start:  Woodburn

Finish:  West Ballina

Distance:  23

Total:  1076

Last nights stay in Woodburn was not a good experience. Then today I missed a turn and had to backtrack. Maybe I got whatever bad that’s left on this trip over with all at once. I hope so. 

Last night I stayed in the village of Woodburn, a small town of maybe 1000 people. As I walked into town yesterday I noticed the one and only gas station was permanently closed and had been for some time. Then the first store in their one block long business district, the grocery store, was also boarded up. There were a couple of coffee shops, a bakery, a cafe, and then there was the Rod-N-Reel Pub and Motel where I had a reservation to spend the night. When I first put eyes on the place I thought this might have been a mistake but Woodburn was my best choice of towns and the Rod-N-Reel was the only place to stay.  

So I went to the bar, which is what you do in one of these Pub/Motels, to check in. I got room #4; a single with an “en-suite” which means the room has its own bathroom, otherwise you share with other rooms down the hall. I went to my room and it was very, and I mean very, small. In the bathroom the mirror had fallen off the wall above the lavatory and was just sitting there resting behind the faucets leaning against the wall. Above the toilet was a widow that was designed to be permanently open. It’s hard to explain but there were glass pains with spaces between them and they were permanently attached to the window frame in a way that left 4 inch openings in the window all the time. This explained why there were flies in the room that I spent the next hour chasing down and swatting with my baseball cap. 

After chasing down the flies, I decided it was time for a shower. On the bed was a towel, wash cloth, and a small, prepackaged bar of soap. I looked around for shampoo. I couldn’t find any. So I walked back across the parking lot to the bar and asked the girl who checked me in for some shampoo. She said they only provide soap. Seriously. So I went back to my room to take a shower. When I unwrapped the soap, I couldn’t find the trash can to throw the wrapper in. I looked everywhere. No trash can. I honestly have never, ever heard of any business establishment, let alone a motel, that doesn’t have a trash can. This is a crime against civilized society. So after I took a shower I went back to the bar/bistro to eat and also talk to the manager about this room situation. When I asked for a manager, the guy behind the bar said there was no manager on duty. He acted like he was in charge, so I told him about my displeasure with the whole situation, and especially the lack of a trash can in the room. He said there is a dumpster in the parking lot if I want to use that. WHAT!  ARE YOU KIDDING ME?  They expect their guests to dispose of their trash in their motel room by walking outside to a dumpster every time they have something to throw away?  So for the rest of my stay I made a little pile of trash in the corner of my room on the floor. When I left this morning I looked at that pile of trash and could hardly control my mixed emotions. 

My walk today was a long one. It was planned to be 21 miles but I missed a turn and didn’t realize it until I’d gone a mile down the road. The only thing I could do was turn around and go back so that added two miles to my day. 

Tonight I’m in a normal motel with shampoo and two trash cans. I have eight more days to walk and all but one day is less than 20 miles. And no more freeway!  JB. 

My day ended with a ferry ride across the river into West Ballina.
This part of New South Wales is sugar cane country.
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