MORE than a year after leaving Victoria’s Mornington Peninsula on foot, mental health advocate Bailey Seamer had her goal in sights as she walked into Cooktown on Friday 16 June – the tip of Cape York.
The Novocastrian’s ambitious goal of walking Australia’s east coast from bottom to top stems from her personal journey living with bipolar disorder, and she is just five weeks from the finish line.
“There have been a lot of highlights and lowlights, as you can imagine,” Ms Seamer told the Cape York Weekly.
“The encounters with wildlife have been unreal, I was chased by wild emus about three days into the walk, which was a baptism of fire, and was woken up by a fox in my tent in Victoria.
“But the highlights have been the people I’ve met along the way who have expressed to me how much this walk has meant to them.
“They’ve never had the courage to talk about their condition, but because of what I’m doing, maybe it’s the ripple effect, they’ve reached out to people around them or sought help.
“There have been so many beautiful moments, laughing and crying with strangers, really just magic.”
Ms Seamer said despite some “really gnarly” days walking remote areas alone, her journey had provided countless opportunities to inspire, connect and raise awareness and funds for the Black Dog Institute.
“I wouldn’t have had those opportunities to really connect with so many people if I wasn’t doing what I’m doing, Forrest Gumping up the coast,” she said.
“There is more motivation when you know you’re doing it for other people as well, it’s a lot more than your individual experience and pushes you to get over those swollen ankles and calluses and walking in the rain.”
Ms Seamer said she planned to put in long walking days as she trekked through remote Cape York to the Tip, and had set herself a rough goal of finishing in five weeks’ time.
“I’m hoping to be able to punch out the long walking days,” she said.
“I’ve been walking for 13 months, it’s been a long time – about half of the walk has been in Queensland, it’s such a huge State.”
She said for her the walk was also a metaphor for life with bipolar and reflected her own personal journey.
“The walk, to many, seems impossible, just like recovery seems to to a person diagnosed with a chronic mental health disorder,” she said.
“I want to show if you have a mental health condition with the right treatment and commitment to surviving the tough times you can aim to achieve great things, both big and small, toward cumulatively having a long fulfilling life irrespective of what path you must walk to get there.
“If you just hang in there, day after day, pushing forward, bit by bit, with the love and support that surrounds you, we can all create a life worth living, one step at a time.”
Visit Ms Seamer’s website at www.wandering-minds.org for more information or to donate to the Black Dog Institute.
If you or someone you know is experiencing mental health issues, you can call Lifeline any time on 13 11 14 or reach out to the Royal Flying Doctor Service’s local mental health team across the Cape on 4040 0444.