I am happy to announce that our Murray River Source to Sea support team is now complete with my father joining us. My father is thrilled to be our driver for the duration of the expedition. My dad has driven trucks all his life and I know he is proud to be supporting us in our adventures.
The Murray River holds a special place in my father’s heart as his own father often went fishing and hunting at Mathoura, which has become one of my most magical locations along the Murray. I deeply look forward to visiting this place with my father when we travel through Mathoura and reminiscing on the stories about my grandfather’s adventures.
I sadly never got to meet my grandfather due to his early passing so look forward to seeing this part of the river through the lens of our family history.
As a child we also owned a family boat and spent many hours on rivers and the ocean. So I know it is with great joy that my father will witness his daughter travel the length of the Murray River. I believe it is through family traditions that we renew our spirit as we imagine what our ancestors felt, dreamed and hoped while engaging in the similar activities. It is with this sentiment that I equally hope my children and grandchildren one day stand on the shores of the Murray River and cast their minds to imagine what may have stirred in my heart viewing the same landscape.
So welcome to the team Dad. I look forward to building upon the many memories already cemented throughout my childhood and over the years as we have welcomed new family members, grandchildren and more recently your first great grandchild. I know we are all going to have an amazing time and who knows we even get lucky and catch a fish or two.
Well off we go again trying to drum up sponsorship at the Melbourne Boat Show 2015 in our branded t-shirts. We are full of expectation and hope as always even though our energy a little low on this Sunday morning. Jasmine nursing a cold and feeling miserable although she makes no complaints. I’m having one of those MS ‘yuck’ days where pain & overall discomfort is my constant companion throughout the day. Nevertheless on with things as we slowly make our way around checking out the boats and trying to share our journey. As always we meet people who happen to either have someone in their family with MS or knows of someone with the disease. A lovely woman told me her story of how she and her husband got into the business of selling pontoon boats. Her mother-in-law suffers from MS and as she became less mobile finding it harder to step up into a boat they looked into pontoons as an alternative. She explains these boats have a lot of space and comfort even allowing for a wheelchair to be pushed on board. Her mother-in-law now enjoys the water again after spending all her life on the river watching her children grow up skiing and holidaying on the Murray River. What a moving story. Never ceases to amaze me what some families will do to support their love ones. We meet another special soul who takes great time to listen to our plight and plans to travel from source to sea and he invites us to contact him this week. He states he should be able to help some way. So my fingers and toes are crossed in the hope for sponsorship however will be thrilled with any contributions he might make. Will keep you all posted.
Banner finally arrived for our car. Amazingly I have been anxiously waiting for this event. Sad but true. Perhaps simply because I see this style of advertising around and something I have never used before. My theory is we travel a lot and given many people know someone in their network with MS I am certain we will attract great interest to the website. I am hoping.
We introduce our key support person for our Murray River source to sea expedition Gilbert Mcbean (Gil). Gil will kindly offer his time and support for the duration of the trip in assisting us to make our dream a reality. We couldn’t be more thrilled to have him on board and know we are in great hands. Gil is well known to our family and a good friend of my parents. Gil is described as a gentle giant who has a heart of gold. He has driven semi-trailers (trucks) his whole life and owned his own business. My father and Gil became mates many years ago while travelling on the road. My father was also a truck driver.
Gil has recently retired or so he says as he certainly isn’t sitting around in an armchair watching the hours tick by. Gil is currently up in Broome in his campervan enjoying the good life. He is looking forward to many more trips around this great land of ours. He also fills his time volunteering at a speedway and in a few months, giving his time generously again to a great cause in raising funds for those of us with MS.
Gil I wish to personally thank you for your commitment to the expedition. I am deeply touched that you are traveling with us given I haven’t seen you in many years. You are truly a big man with a big heart. I’m sure we will all have many laughs along the way.
Sunday morning was spent cutting last minute brochures to be handed out at the MS Fun Run at Albert Park Lake. My helper for the morning Jasmine followed me through the crowd as we spoke to as many participants as possible before the starting gun for either their 5 or 10 km walk. While I was not a participant this time round I experience the same degree of awe in knowing people will give of their time so selflessly towards a cause. On this cold winter’s morning I focus on the best aspects of the human spirit knowing each have risen early, formed teams and made the effort for others. Qualities we can forget exist in a modern world where the news is saturated in stories of war, terrorism, murder and failing political parties. It’s a reminder to me that compassion still abounds and giving is the best remedy in believing the world is still a good place to be.
Things progressing for our adventure of a lifetime. All happy at home except our 12 year old daughter. While we endeavour to tick off our to do list such as securing sponsorship, completing our website, sourcing a support team and so on, our 12 year old worries about how she will do her hair, avoid snakes and survive weeks camping with her parents with no IPad, mobile, TV. Bless her! It’s all relative I guess. I’m equally beginning to wonder what was I thinking when I decided to embark on our adventure – weeks with hubby & a pre- adolescent in the bush. Identifying as a Buddhist I think I will need a new mantra to deal with those meltdown moments. Or just lots of meditation by the river.
Hubby on the other hand is on his own mission with an agenda. To finally catch a fish. Yes he has never caught a fish yet has managed to lose two rods off the back of the boat. And that’s was over one holiday Christmas period. He thinks fish in the Murray is a fable and all the advertising material shown in glossy tourist brochures a conspiracy as they don’t exist. Of course being a mere male it can’t be that he just hasn’t been lucky or using the wrong bait. Speaking of which he has used corn, cheese, chips, prawn, plastic bait of all shapes and sizes and dim sim to lure this elusive fish. Yes you read correctly a dim sim from the fish & chip shop. I should note the obvious he hasn’t used worms as he doesn’t want to take any from our home worm farm as apparently they are like our pets!!
This weekend was taken up with trying to fish at an alternative location – Lake Eildon. The statement in the morning was I will definitely catch something today. Again nothing! Oh he did manage to pull out a stick. Check out the photo to see my dilemma. Not until he catches a fish on the Mighty Murray will I ever hear the end of it. So for those of you who are religious please pray he catches one within the first week of our journey in order to preserve my sanity. For those who can shed any light on how to catch a real fish please feel free to provide advice below. Please, I beg you. P.S. Any advice on surviving the child also welcome.
Buddhist monk and poet Thich Nhat Hanh wrote ‘Alone we are vulnerable and afraid. If we try to go to the ocean as a single drop of water, we will evaporate before we arrive. But if we go as a river, if we go as a community, we are sure to arrive at the ocean’.
This statement encapsulates the birth of my dream to undertake a majestic Mighty Murray River expedition from source to sea. Fear is not an unknown feature of Multiple Sclerosis (MS) or any other illness where unpredictability and uncertainly abound. If a single star were seen in a dark night sky we would hold little hope of finding other life force and perhaps feel overwhelmingly alone in the universe; however if millions of stars light up the night sky we are transformed and experience awe to the magnitude of our existence, hope at the possibilities of what we might find and courage to explore.
It is this exact sentiment I hold as we seek sponsorship, plan and embark on our journey on the 1st November 2015. Whilst we are a family of three travelling the length of the Mighty Murray River it will take a community of people, businesses, media and a generosity of individuals to reach the sea in the hope of raising awareness and funds in finding a cure for this insidious disease MS. Each a star in the grand plan and lighting the night sky as hope and courage lead the way through the many rivers and landscapes of this beautiful part of Australia – our longest river.
The Murray River is a location that always stirs my soul as I feel fused to its land with a passion for all it offers. From the smells of river gums that fill the air, fire wood from the paddle steamers as they release their black burnt smoke to propel forward and the fresh air, whether crisp from an autumn’s morning or a warm day’s air which invites you into its river shores for a swim. Not to mention the sounds of the bush – kookaburras cheering on the day, fairy wrens, corellas, swallows and cicada as they form nature’s greatest orchestra. All of which offer considerable relief from the many demands of MS symptoms when visiting the river. My healing place!
Boating has allowed me the freedom with MS to delve deeper into the river and explore its earthly beauty and mysteries along with my husband and 12 year old daughter. In those rare moments of solitude when we have navigated past the many deadened tree branches where they stand eerily as the keepers of the river when travelling to remote locations; I have experienced a sense of unity with its currents and land as I seek to absorb its life force as one with mine. Nothing feels more spiritually uplifting than sitting at the bow of the boat, hand in the water as the river separates through your fingers, wind in your hair and black kites soring overhead, swallows darting along the river like little fairies of the bush and cockatoos larking in the tree top and water edges as you snake around the many bends desperately wanting everything the Murray River has to reveal to you.
For this reason it felt a natural progression and privilege to take on an expedition on this amazing river of ours to fundraise for such a worthy curse. Four Australians are diagnosed every day with MS with many being in the prime of their life and female. So please support and join me on this adventure in raising awareness and funding into MS research for better treatments and hopefully a cure. Will you be one of the stars to light the way and provide hope and courage to those living with MS!
Please donate so that my mum and others can be free from MS!