Walking the rabbit proof fence
retracing the journey and Story of MollY, Daisy and Grace's 1000 walk home across western Australia
Whilst hauled up in Byron Bay with a broken leg in 2007, I came across the film and book Follow the Rabbit Proof Fence. It's a pretty moving tale about three young aboriginal girls who were forcibly removed from their families and placed in a settlement during the Stolen Generation. Molly, the eldest of the girls, engineered an escape, fleeing the camp they made it all the way home, crossing some of Australia's most inhospitable environments, by following the Rabbit Proof Fence. They had no maps. No provisions. No shoes. Nothing. Just the nighties they were wearing and each other. I found Molly's courage, strength and sheer determination so inspiring. My dad suddenly died, a few months after reading the book. So, Molly's character stuck with me. And, helped spur me on when I was going through a tough time. So, I always wanted to return to Australia to walk the fence. And........nine years later, it was the best thing I have ever done. And maybe ever will.
So that I wouldn't be one of those tourists rescued from the desert I did take provisions, maps, tent, sleeping bag, Epirb, Gps, spare clothes (not many), all packed in my companion of a walking trolley, that I aptly named Trevor, after my Dad.
The Rabbit Proof Fence was originally erected in the early 1900s to keep the cute, fluffy pests out of pastoral land. So, every now and then I'd come across a homestead who would kindly take me in, having never met me. I'd planned to have enough supplies by posting food to a couple of stations, but the homesteads would stuff me and Trev full of food and send me on my way. How bloomin' lovely?!
I had mega highs and uber lows. And, I went slightly cuckcoo. At one point I was trying to work out whether I should continue walking after Jigalong and walk all the way back to England, walk faster so I could be in with a good chance to enter the Walking race in the Tokyo Olympics 2020 or walk the Rabbit Proof Fence all over again but with no provisions. I also thought about becoming Prime Minister. Alot!
I got seriously lost in the thick Aussie bush. But, then I got unlost. Which, almost made the getting lost worth it. No slithery deadly snakes slipped into my sleeping bag at night. Nor did I have any uncomfortable interactions with any poisonous creepy crawlies. But, I did have a stand off with ten big, curious camels. And, I actually reunited an Emu family. Yes, I did!
Molly's daughter, Maria, joined me for the last 5km into Jigalong and there could be no better ending to the 10 week journey than meeting Daisy herself. Daisy made the journey in 1931. She's now 96.
The whole experience was just the most incredible thing I've ever done and I could talk about it until the camels came home. So, I'm writing a book and editing a film if you'd like to hear more. But, for now below's a few clips and images for you to enjoy...