The West

Trip of a lifetime
Trip of a lifetime

He's lived with a remote Amazonian tribe, ran away from home to work on the high seas and completed a commando course.

For 75-year-old Rockingham man Mike Kerswill, life in the fast lane has always come naturally.

Not one to while away his days playing bingo or bowls, Mr Kerswill is gearing up for his latest adventure — a 1600km return trip from Carnarvon to Meekatharra in support of the Royal Flying Doctor Service.

Travelling the route first blazed by pioneer Charles Kingsford-Smith in 1924, he will push supplies in a modified wheelbarrow, weighing about 25kg, for three months across some of the country’s most unforgiving terrain.

‘‘All my life I’ve been very active and mobile - I can’t sit for very long at all,’’ Mr Kerswill said.

‘‘I’m not into modern technology and I don’t have a mobile phone or computer, but I like to do the manual things.

‘‘It probably seems a bit off the cuff that a 75-year-old bloke has suddenly decided to push a wheelbarrow through the middle of the outback

‘‘But I’ve planned this to the best of my ability and trained for it.

‘‘For me, it wasn’t a question of why, it was a question of why not?’’

The trip is the latest adventure for the Rockingham pensioner, whose life fits the bill of a Hollywood movie script.

He grew up in Devon, England and left home at 15 to work aboard a cable ship in the Atlantic Ocean.

After a year at sea, he lived with a remote tribe in Amazon for 18 months, learning to hunt and survive.

Shortly after moving to Australia in the 1950s, Mr Kerswill and his wife walked from the Goldfields town of Laverton to Carnarvon.

It was on this trip he first fell in love with the Australian bush.

‘‘It’s the most magical place,’’ Mr Kerswill said.

‘‘When we came to Australia and I was working in Laverton, my wife and I actually backpacked from Laverton to Carnarvon.

‘‘We used to lay out under the stars and you feel you can just put your hand up and grab them.

‘‘After coming down here (Rockingham) from Carnarvon, I’ve found everything is very civilised and you don’t have the wilderness around you, so I want to return to it.

‘‘I’ve not finished with the bush —this (trip) is just to get me back into it again.’’

Starting on August 1, Mr Kerswill will make his way to Mt Augustus, Mt James and onto Meekatharra, where he will resupply for the return journey.

The trip will raise money for the Royal Flying Doctor Service, which Mr Kerswill said was a lifeline for those living in the bush.

‘‘Knowing how isolated the area is, without the Royal Flying Doctor, people in those areas are pretty much cut off,’’ he said.

‘‘I think the Royal Flying Doctor is a necessity so I thought let’s combine what I want to do with a fundraising activity for them.’’

Follow Mr Kerswill’s journey by reading his diary entries in upcoming editions of the Sound Telegraph.

Anyone wishing to donate should visit—mike.

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