EXHAUSTED but elated, mental health advocate Bailey Seamer dissolved into tears as she walked the final steps to the Tip of Cape York after an epic journey on foot following Australia’s east coast.
“I’m exhausted but over the moon,” Ms Seamer told Cape York Weekly from Punsand Bay.
“I finished at the car park on Saturday afternoon and got up early on Sunday – me and my family all walked into the sign (at the Tip) and had a big cry.
“It’s a little bit like when a bird runs into a glass window, I’ve been a bit like that over the last couple of days, but it has been fantastic.
“I’ve got all my beautiful family here and we’re staying at Punsand Bay and it’s absolutely beautiful.”
Ms Seamer said the mammoth 5000km-plus hike from Victoria to the Cape over a 14-month period had raised more than $80,000 for the Black Dog Institute and provided countless opportunities to connect and inspire people.
“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 Cape York’s famous small-town hospitality had been on show during the month she spent walking from Cooktown to the tip, as well as curiosity and support from the many tourists travelling the Peninsula Developmental Road.
“I met the Talk About It Tuesday crew at Coen; Debbie and Jackie were absolutely phenomenal, and I actually stayed at Debbie’s place,” she said.
“The morning tea they put on at Coen was absolutely gorgeous and it was a really beautiful way to be welcomed into the community up here. There was a lot of that sort of thing, very wholesome people with a strong sense of community.”
Ms Seamer said up to 30 cars a day stopped for a chat during the long, hot, dusty days, with children grabbing photos and cars playing ‘Bailey spotto’.
“I had so many beautiful conversations and I’m really appreciative of the incredibly supportive and generous people of the Cape,” she said.
Not one to rest on her laurels, Ms Seamer took Monday off after walking for more than 430 days but will jump on the ferry and speak with students on Thursday Island today before heading south again.
“We’re going to drive down the coast and stop at all the schools and other places we couldn’t get to on the way up due to the timing,” she said.
“When I get home to Newcastle it’s going to be interesting as I have a different attitude and outlook now than I did when I left and trying to fit into the same lifestyle will be impossible.
“I’m not in any rush to walk across Europe or anything, but I think I’ll still do stuff in the mental health advocacy space, maybe link up with Black Dog Institute and do some volunteer public speaking.”
Go to www.wandering-minds.org for 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 mental health team on 4040 0444.