KeenWalk Day 1

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This story starts with a Professor, an Analyst and a lost bet at Parliament House, Canberra. Ending nine days and approximately 240 kilometers away at the top of Mt.Koscuiszko. On April 14, 2010, I joined a walk with Academic and Economist, Steve Keen from Canberra to Mount Mt.Koscuiszko. On April 23 I made my way to the summit.

Looking for insightful economic commentary about the Keen Walk? Try this article: Why walk? written by “embedded” Journalist, Rob Burgess from Business Spectator. I’ll be linking to Rob’s journal for each leg of the journey, filling in the “bourgeois bits” he missed. You can read the previous entry about Training here.

Day 1

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The first day for me starts early. I leave home at 0430. My kit is packed the night before. It’s dark, raining and there is no CD player in the car. I’m stuck with Golden Oldies. I continue driving with, AC/DC blaring through my open window…

♬ I tell you folks / It’s harder than it looks / It’s a long way to the top / if you want to Rock ‘n Roll ♬

I wake my lift an hour later pulling into the drive way. On the way out I forget my water bottle. It takes just under an hour to get to the airport. Check-in for my flight. The check-in attendant asks if I’m able bodied and “would I mind sitting near an escape hatch?” Make my way to my flight. It’s at Gate 30. Flights to Canberra are the equivalent of sitting in the outer at the MCG.

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I have time to kill so I grab some batteries for my overhead torch, some bubblegum and water and wait. At 0930 I’m boarding my plane. No gangways for Canberra. It’s off onto the windy tarmac. I grab my cap and board my ride.

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It’s a Dash-8, a turbo-prop. I take my seat, stow my luggage then check the various safety instructions and practice pulling out the awkward 13Kg panel if required. I then plug my ears, get out some bubble gum and start chewing.

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The flight is unremarkable. We cruise along at 21 thousand feet, first uphill, then down. No ear aches this time. Chewing gum and yawning isn’t necessary.

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Land in Canberra. Grab my kit. Wait at the taxi rank for Moose.

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I wait. Wait some more. I spot a person with pack who’s heading to Parliament House. I recognise him later on in the day. Why isn’t Moose here? It’s almost 1200, time to move. Hail a cab and make my way to Parliament House. The taxi driver informs me the traffic is light because of the school holidays. We spot a gaggle of people near Parliament House. This is the place.

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I see Steve in the distance. Get out my name tag, put it on. Let him know I’m here and grab a T-Shirt. The shirts are funky. I think I’d go just for the T-Shirt, graphs and text all over the place.

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The AFP-UP do regular cruises around the area. Looks like every 10 minutes. Safe enough and regular enough to leave your car for a couple of weeks.

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Still no Moose.

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Stash my kit in the truck trailer and I take a look around. There’s almost a carnival atmosphere about the place. Clowns, balloons, dogs.

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Lots of Journo’s and film crew looking serious pointing at things colourful, bright or noisy. People start doing their pieces to camera.

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I don’t know anyone here so I just look, shoot and start picking up bits of conversation. Then it’s time to move. And off we go.

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People on bikes. People with Balloons. People on stilts marching up to Parliament House. The walk begins.

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A quick march around Parliament House and then we hit the back streets of Canberra.

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Getting funny stares from people in suits looking at the procession. I start chatting to some people along the way. Seems quite a few of them are familiar with Steves’ other site, Debtwatch. I had a quick look at it before I left. These people appear to live there.

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The talk weaves through many themes, the economy, the state of housing, benefits of buying verses renting, marine ecology, computer hardware, software. Certainly an eclectic bunch. Not all are going the whole way. Many are here for the day or proceeding days only. From places like Sydney and Canberra.

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I’m marching behind the man on stilts I see some funny sights. Handing out balloons to a lady on a balcony, racing across the road marvelling at the stamina and dexterity.

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We swing out of Fyshwick and enter the Monaro Highway. Now we are going to be flogged. We have 25 kilometers to cover and we have to get there before it gets dark. Tough luck if you don’t.

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The road etiquette is weird. We walk on the left instead of the conventional right. Behind us is a large Toyota people mover with a trailer. The people mover is half blocking the highway. The traffic behind us is banking up. As the afternoon wears on, the amount of traffic increases along with the abuse.

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The area we are passing through is flat. The sun is hot.

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I put on some blockout, sip some water and continue walking and snapping photos. Talking at the same time.

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As the sun begins to set. The scenery is quite picturesque but I’m starting to get weary.

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The sun has now set. We keep walking in the dark until we hear the faint distinctive sound “thud”, “thud”, “thud” of paint balling. Just over the rise we can see some lights.

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In the distance to the right we see lights. Is this the spot we stay for tonight? Looking to the left we see a van. Closer inspection reveals it’s our van. We have made it. After 25 kilometers we have arrived to a mobile food van complete with drinks.

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I drop my kit, grab a bottle and scull it. Then there is food, hot food. Chicken rice and curry with vegetables. Just the stuff I need. After two buckets I’m ready for check-in and rest.

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But not just yet. It’s getting cold. Out comes the Greatcoat. We end up waiting for over an hour. Lucky the wind was pretty low. We check-in at the a motel about 20 minutes away. My room-mates name is Dave. We have an early start and by 2230 I’m packed and ready for sleep. You can read the previous entry about Training here.

Thursday, 29th April 2010. This is the second part of my recollections of the Keenwalk. You can see the photos at my Keenwalk collection on my flickr account. The posts will also be mirrored at keenwalker.com.au. Be sure to read the posts by other participants.

Continued ==> Day 2

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