Going the distance

RECENTLY Sue Wellington sat down in a Fremantle pub for a well-earned drink, after raising more than $25,000 for Alzheimer’s research by walking from Melbourne to Freo.

Wellington left Melbourne in March, averaging 30km a day, and her only support was her pushcart, nicknamed “The Ladies Auxiliary”.

“I loved clipping down the lid of the trolley each morning and stepping out into the road not knowing what this day will bring,” Wellington says.

Apart from the odd good samaritan who donated chocolate and coffee, Wellington subsisted on dehydrated meals she made before the trip and basic camp tucker, like dried fruits and tinned food.

The journey involved dreaded and painful blisters, apocalyptic storms, and days in solitude, but Wellington says walking past countless roadkill with the unbearable and “constant stench” was the greatest challenge.

“On the flip side, one of the most amazing experiences was to be immersed in nature…with the skies stretching from one horizon to the other,” she says.

• Sue Wellington. Photo by Max Wellington

Wellington passed through the Eyre Peninsula where she grew up on a farm at Karkoo.

She stopped there to spent some time with her father, who was diagnosed with the Alzheimer’s several years ago.

“It robs memory, confidence, independence and life from people we love and admire,” she says.

“The impact on families is enormous and the change of dynamics in relationships can be very difficult to accept.”

According to the Dementia Australia Research Foundation, Alzheimer’s is the most common form of dementia, a degenerative disease that is now the second leading cause of death of Australians, and is the greatest cause of disability in people aged over 65.

About 413,106 Australians have dementia and experts estimate the number of sufferers will increase to 540,000 in 2025.

“We’re thrilled with what Sue has achieved,” says DARF manager Dr Annette Moxley.

“The funds raised will support Australia’s best and brightest researchers who are looking for ways to prevent, diagnose and treat this life limiting condition.”

Carrying a jar of sand from the East Coast, on arriving at South Beach in Fremantle, Wellington filled up another jar.

As she walked along the sands, she received a text message from her father saying they’d reached their target of raising $25,000.


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