The road to Cooktown

Sunday 19 November

The last few months have been filled with running, interviewing refugees, strength and conditioning sessions, meetings with refugee organisations, route planning, logistics organisation and probably more online shopping for gear than either of us would like to admit. We’ve learned at least one thing already: there is only so much time you can spend deliberating over which high vis fluoro legionnaires hat is the best in the market (see our attempted ‘model shot’ above, with thanks to SunWay UV Clothing for throwing in some extra hats of varying colours so we can ‘keep our look fresh’ as we run).

Now, the time has arrived for Bounding Plains to Share to truly begin.

Unbelievably, we’re just four days away from taking off from Cooktown on Thursday 23 November. In the lead up, we’ve juggled time constraints with Jackson’s university studies and Cassie’s full time work schedule, as well as managing minor niggling injuries that appear from time to time. It’s been pretty busy, so we’re looking forward to now being able to focus ourselves entirely on this massive challenge.

We spent our last week in Canberra meeting with advisors such as Ella and Sarah from the UNHCR, as well as preparing for the Queensland heat by running on a treadmill in the University of Canberra’s Research Institute for Sport and Exercise (UCRISE) heat chamber. Over four consecutive days, we ran for up to 90 minutes in 34 degree temperatures at 70% humidity. We were surprised to learn that the training adaptation from this process is that you actually sweat more, rather than less. (So, on a positive note for anyone out there who sweats a lot, at least you’re well prepared for the North Queensland heat!).

Each day, we emerged from the heat chamber soaked in sweat and not smelling our best (mental note: invest in air freshener for the camper trailer). Thanks to Brad and Julien from UCRISE, who generously donated their time to help us train in the heat chamber.

Last Wednesday, after farewelling our family and friends, we left Canberra with all of our gear (including 6 legionnaires hats…) and camper trailer in tow. After a night in Sydney, we drove 630kms to Moree in Northern NSW, where an attempted bike ride came to a premature end as a result of a violent thunderstorm.

Running in the UC RISE heat chamber

Our first night in the camper trailer.

After the first night sleeping in the trailer, we drove 830kms to Emerald in Queensland. On the way, we decided to use the extra hour gained by entering Queensland to go for a run in the small town of Roma, which has a population of around 7,000 people. From Emerald, we drove 600kms to Townsville, stopping to check out the gold mining town of Charters Towers on the way.

The view from Tower Hill in Charters Towers.

Some of the inland roads on the way to Cooktown.

Once in Townsville, we went to stay with Cassie’s cousin Tim and his two dogs, Cooper and Murphy. Despite concerns the dogs might not like us, we were thrilled to earn their respect (and the right/obligation to continuously throw the ball in the backyard).

Aside from owning really cute dogs, Tim is a bit of a local identity who started Gym Food Australia, a company that provides prepared meals for the health conscious. He’s also a very successful basketballer, so when Tim said he was off to play a basketball game in the Townsville super league, we decided to run to the stadium to watch his game. He’d been saying all afternoon ‘We’re going to lose by heaps, they’re the best team in the league and one of their guys is 6 foot 10…” so when his team actually won by 50 points, we were pretty impressed!

This morning, we headed into the weekly Townsville market, where we met Abdihakim and his wife Aqbal, who came to Australia as refugees from Somalia last year. We had a great chat with Abdihakim and we loved their samosas! Look out for their story in a few weeks, when we pass back through Townsville.

Aqbal and Abdihakim cooking samosas at the Townsville Sunday market.

We’ll spend the next few days in Cairns conducting some more interviews, and we also can’t wait to present at the launch of Centacare FNQ’s Face-to-Face program, which trains former refugees to speak in schools to share their story and educate students.

Then on Thursday, it’s up to Cooktown to get the running started! Stay tuned for further updates…

You can also follow us on Twitter (@Boundingplains), Instagram (@bounding_plains2share_run) and Facebook (Bounding Plains to Share).