On a warm day in May 2004 Liz Byron set off from Cooktown with her two companions, donkeys Grace and Charley, on a self-imposed challenge to walk 2500 kilometres of the Bicentennial National Trail over 9 months. This epic journey was a rite of passage to mark leaving 40 years of marriage and embarking on life as a single woman at the age of 61. She foresaw that self-reliance, physical stamina and route-finding would be challenges but couldn't have known how the environment in Queensland was to test her to the limit. Years of drought had left much of her route a dusty wasteland, without food or water for her animals. Years of suffering from childhood abuse and a family tragedy had left her unwilling to ask for help. Walking became a meditation, an exercise in being in the moment even when that moment was 43 degrees or she hadn't eaten for 7 hours. In her moving memoir, Liz reveals how she healed herself step by step on the way to her new home in northern NSW - by learning to trust her intuition, the wisdom of her animals and the kindness of strangers.
Liz Byron is a singular and brave woman whose nine-month trek with her donkeys was a truly inspirational achievement at the age of 61. Her long walk also took her into the depths of her own heart, a journey every bit as challenging as those 2500 kilometres from one end of Queensland to the other. Hers is a very Australian narrative, the size of the land opening up to the size of her inner exploration. She tells her story with humour, humility and directness, and I can only hope that when I reach that stage of life I have half as much courage - Malcome Knox, (Author and Journalist for The Sydney Morning Herald, The Sun Herald and more) .
Country of Publication:
01 March 2020
Chapter One DONKEYS Bungendore Chapter Two SETTING OUT Bungendore to Cooktown Chapter Three SETTLING IN Cooktown to Wujal Wujal Chapter Four POWERING ON Wujal Wujal to Julatten Chapter Five NO MORE FAIRY TALES Julatten to Mount Molloy Chapter Six NEW HORIZONS Mount Molloy to Mutchilba Chapter Seven THE WAY THROUGH Mutchilba to Innot Hot Springs Chapter Eight ARE WE THERE YET? Innot Hot Springs to Uramo Station Chapter Nine DETOUR Road to Uramo Station Chapter Ten EXPOSED Uramo to Yammanie Station Chapter Eleven UNRAVELLING Yammanie Station to Mingela Chapter Twelve GRACE Mingela to New Hidden Valley Station Chapter Thirteen MOVING ON New Hidden Valley to Tierawoomba Station Chapter Fourteen RECONNECTING Tierawoomba Station Chapter Fifteen THE WANDERER Tierawoomba Station to Gracemere Chapter Sixteen STRAYS AND ANGELS At Gracemere Chapter Seventeen HERE I AM Gracemere to Wallaby Station Chapter Eighteen TIME TO GO HOME Wallaby Station to Mount Perry and Beyond EPILOGUE
Liz Byron, mother and semi-retired sociolegal researcher, writes from her coastal New South Wales home, having survived several high-risk treks and an abusive childhood. Her love of bushwalking in Australia and trekking the Himalaya prepared her for a 2,500-kilometre trek through rural Queensland with two long-eared companions. Each step on this radical journey of self-discovery helped her make sense of her grief and trauma, including the tragic loss of one of her four children. Liz's fierce independence was confronted daily as she tackled details of equipment and food ordering, thorny grass seeds and injury, lack of drinking water, and the hilarious will of her two devoted donkeys. The journey meant leaving her rollercoaster marriage, career, family dinners, large library and a comfortable, charming home. Liz's writing is confronting and visceral in its honesty, as only an award-winning research lawyer would dare.