Keenwalk: Why I went

Keenwalk: Why I went


“The upper bound of one mans imagination of the impossible is a simple walk for another”


It’s been almost a year since I’ve returned from the KeenWalk to Kosciuszko. When asked the inevitable “why”, I try to stick to short uncomplicated replies: “It’s for a lost bet” or “I felt like it” or my personal favourite, “I did it for the T-Shirt”. [0] How I discovered the walk is not so interesting by comparison. I found out purely “by accident.” My morning reading habits include Hacker News and I came across an article, “Australian Economist who lost bet will walk from Parliament to Mount Kosciousko.” [1] I’m interested in any Australian references on Hacker News, so I read the article, absorbed the challenge and contacted Steve that day and signed up. It was that simple.

“… This week in The Economist we will publish our quarterly index of house prices around the world. Australia’s homes are the most overvalued in the index. The ratio of prices to rents in the country is fully 56% above its long-run average (see chart). … “ [2]

Fast forward 9 days, 240 kilometers and many towns later and you get to this picture. It was taken late on the last day of Steve descending Kosciuszko, job done. For Steve it was more than just about completing the distance, personal or professional pride. It was about a bigger question. Are “rising house prices a bubble?”. [2] A lot of press was watching this “walk of shame” as one Journalist put it, with the expectation of a symbolic failure. As if a failure to reach the summit would somehow invalidate the idea of the current housing bubble. That’s why this image is a favourite of the trip. The distance covered, mountain summit reached and negative press silenced. The master stroke of imagination Steve conjoured, was to take up an off-the-cuff challenge [1] then flawlessly achieve it. So thanks Steve for letting me go on the KeenWalk. I learned a lot from trip but the one that comes most to mind, and I smile as I think about it, “the upper bound of one mans imagination of the impossible is a simple walk for another”.


[0] 2011MAR121259, flickr, “I did it for the t-shirt”
[Accessed Saturday, 12th March 2011]

[1] samh, Hackernews, “Australian Economist who lost bet will walk from Parliament to Mount Kosciousko”
[Accessed Saturday, 12th March 2011] and

[2] S.C., Economist, “Iron, coal, bricks and mortar”
[Accessed Saturday, 12th March 2011]


KeenWalk Day 2


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: Honk if you’re a bear 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 Day 1.

Day 2


There’s a long highway in your mind  / The spirit road that you must find / To get you home to peace again / Where you belong my love lost friend

Zero seven start this morning. Got down to breakfast and had some muesli and peaches, 2 glasses of juice and a banana. One lot of eggs, 2 bits of toast and 2 bits of bacon. Food is important for a good start. The distances we are covering means if you don’t eat enough you will finish the day tired and  sore. Watching my hydration again, no coffee.

Breakfast is followed by a quick walk down the street with Dave. Dave was my roomy last night. He’s been a bit jumpy about his running today. I don’t blame him. We started with stretching before breakfast. Dave got out a well worn stretch guide – preparation. Stretching done we pack and bring our kit down. Our organised time to leave is slipping. We want to leave early to beat the heat. Outside it’s about ten degrees now, clear skys with the early morning haze burning off in the early sun.

Finally get into the van and drive to yesterdays finish point near where we ate the chicken rice and curry, on the           Monaro Highway. Out we get. The runners are getting ready. The walkers are getting ready but nobody wants to drive the support vehicles and I get nominated. Great just what I want. The first day of full marching and I get sidelined driving along at very low speed behind what appears to be slower walkers. Appear is the key word because I was to find out later, the trucks speedo is not the calibrated instrument I thought it was. Rob was actually moving a quite a good 5 kilometer per hour pace.

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Stopped at a station at 10:00 in the middle of nowhere. Took a quick look around. You can see some rolling stock and what passed for the local station.


It doesn’t look like a train has passed through the station for quite a while.

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The next shot is significant. For the last day I’ve been trying to locate Moose. Today he turns up.


To tell you the truth I didn’t really care about the COM stuff-up between us. I was just glad he’d made it. Moose was a late entrant. In fact I wasn’t sure he’d make it at all. It took quite a bit of juggling for him to arrange time off work. I was pretty happy for him to turn up for quite a few reasons.

The first was both Moose and myself spent the previous year working through the crap of Black Saturday Bushfire. For me it was cleaning up my old man’s place in Kinglake West. Dad was lucky. Lucky he survived, lucky he got out with cars intact, lucky his house that I’d helped build, didn’t burn down. He is the luckiest man I know in that town. Moose wasn’t so lucky.

Moose grew up in a small town called Strathewen at the foothills of Kinglake. This area was one of the hardest hit by Black Saturday. Few people survived. Moose not only lost his mum, his brother but a large chunk of the locals living in the area. The property was wrecked. The fences can be rebuilt, the buildings restored. The people cannot be replaced. While we grew up in different towns, Moose in Strathewen, myself in Diamond Creek I’ve known Moose since High School. We both spent winter last year cleaning up his property in Strathewen and working on my Dads. For blokes like Moose and myself, challenges like the KeenWalk is not only fun but also helps put into perspective  the horrors of last year. The second reason was obvious, Moose has valuable Alpine expertise and the rest of my kit is in the back of Moose’s ute.

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♬  You stop to eat / You start to drink / But you don’t stop and you don’t think

Ripped off my boots, pulled off the socks and put them in the sun to dry. Pretty hungry despite the fact the only exercise I’d done was driving the van. The shot above shows the kind of country we are in – rich pasture with trees dotting the landscape. Sheep country. Time to leave, it’s 1400.

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Still quite a few people popping in to join the walk for the day. The orange vested chaps are CSIRO scientists. Interesting to hear their take on various types of economic systems. None of the ideas sound practical – but you never know.

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Passing from Australian Capital Territory, Canberra into New South Wales.


Love this shot. An old corrugated iron shearing shed. Used the same materials to build a shed at Dads.

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The train line continues. No traffic though. What a waste.

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There’s a long highway in your mind / The spirit road that you must find / Peace again

As the day continues, the runners and walkers join forces and walk together. We split into various groups and chat along the way. Dave has had a good day and is keeping good pace with everyone else despite the fact he ran in the morning. It’s a hard slog, especially down hill.

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Going long distances puts strain on different parts of your legs depending on the terrain. If it’s flat, your calves hurt. If there is hills, the calves and quads. Down hill means your knees cop it. So at various points along the way we find anything that will support our weight and stretch. It starts to get cold now. The sun is beginning to move lower in the sky.


♬ When you’re alone / You cheat yourself  / You paint yourself in a dark, dark place

To the right it gets dark. To the left the golden hour – that time of day where the sun shines on the landscape, bathing it in full yellow sun – starts to make taking photos a joy.

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There is a faint haze in the distance. You can see it in some of the photo’s. Must be some burn-off somewhere in the distance. I can’t see the source. Getting tired now. The destination must be somewhere close.


The group is now strung out. The support van has stopped to let anyone get some water or if they are really tired a ride. We press on. And then we walk into our destination, the service station. It’s 1700.

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Get your hat / Get your shoes / Get out here while you still can still choose / Spirit road


No. First it’s a ride back to where we had lunch to pick up Moose’s car. Then a further drive to tomorrows end point, Michelago. A round trip of forty to fifty kilometers. We are all stuffed, but press on.  Pick up the car, drive to the new hotel, check in. Changed room mates. Explained to Dave why. Blast we have a room on the top floor – stairs. We have to navigate stairs. Our legs are tight, smashed and sore and we carry all our kit upstairs.

Had a quick chat to the chef, a Dutchman. Food looks like it’s going to be good tonight. Grabbed a coke, a Parma, a crab salad and cappucchino. The chef was slammed as everone ordered something different off the menu. I was just pleased to get something hot to eat. Decided to move earlier tomorrow. Organise our own drivers and get out early. Packed up my kit for another day.

You can read the previous entry about Day 1.

Friday, 10th May 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 Be sure to read the posts by other participants.

Continued ==> Day 3

KeenWalk: Swags for Homeless


On Sunday I did a 5 minute lightning talk at Trampoline 3, in Melbourne, Sunday May 2nd about Swags for Homeless. I quickly explained the KeenWalk, marching from Canberra to Mount Koscuiszko for some context using some text Rob Burgess supplied Duncan for Defence Force publication, some advantages of the Swag, the organisation ( and creator, Tony Clark. I then explained how Duncan decided to road test a Swag and his initial impressions after a night in Jyndabyne, having the sprinklers turned on at three in the morning. I didn’t mention the fact he took a comfy pillow along.

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Trampoline is an unconference and held in Melbourne at a venue called Donkey Wheel. Donkey Wheel is a privately funded organisation which encourages issues related to social change. The best way to explain Trampoline is to think of what we talked about on the march in one venue, on one day. I explained to the members of Trampoline, the KeenWalk was similar to Trampoline minus traveling 34 kilometers per day.

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The quick summary went down well. A collection of images associated with Duncan, Collin, Liam assembling and filming the Swag can be found here. More information about Trampoline 3 and the previous Trampoline events I’ve attended can be found here