WHO's the guy with the green backpack?
You might've seen him walking along the highway and wondering what he's up to.
That guy is Pieter Lindhout and he's on a solo trek from Gilgandra to Sydney, inspired by the famous Coo-ee March to raise awareness around youth mental health.
"I had three great uncles serve in World War One and that led to my interest in Australian military history where I learned about the Coo-ee March," Mr Lindhout said.
The Coo-ee March left Gilgandra with 25 men on October 10, 1915, and arrived in Martin Place, Sydney on November 12, 1915, with 263 recruits.
In a tribute to the walk, Mr Lindhout partnered with Batyr to raise awareness around mental health, specifically the prevention of youth suicide.
"The key message from me is that it's okay not to be okay and we really need to help people who are in a dark place and having those troubles to lift their hand up and ask for help," he said.
In his move to make a difference, Mr Lindhout departed Gilgandra on March 22 to commence the 520 kilometre route and he arrived in Lithgow on April 10.
"I've been staying here, there and everywhere.
"I've pretty well done everything from sleeping on floors in primary schools to pubs, to sleeping in people's houses on their farms at Blayney," he said.
On April 12 he stayed at Rydal in the Station Master's Cottage.
"That was just gold, hearing the freight trains going through all night, it was just spectacular," he said.
Mr Lindhout tackled Berghofers Pass at Mount Victoria on April 13.
"That's an old 1912 pass, I've never done that before so you know what a gift right, to be out in the country bush walking off the main road for a day...it's just too delightful for words," he said.
He said the other highlights of his journey had been the kindness of strangers and in particular sparking up conversations around mental health.
"It's been amazing just the people I've met on the way and once you start talking about what you're doing and why you're doing it, I think the 'why' really resonates with a lot of people."
"You end up sharing some quite deep personal stories often of grief from people around mental health and youth suicide," he said.
"It's really just walking into a pub talking about why I'm doing this and people sharing their story with me, that's what drives me."
Preparing for the trek
Mr Lindhout said it was important to make sure he was trained prior to stepping foot on the highway.
"I was doing 25 kilometres a day training beforehand, not back-to-back which is what I'm doing now," he said.
He said the key component of preparation was to have a good pair of boots to prevent getting blisters.
"Because if that happens you're stuffed, so foot powder, good Merino socks, good boots that are well worn in, they're the basic tips and if well executed make it [the walk] a really fun journey," he said.
Mr Lindhout said he had gone from waking up with hips that couldn't move in the first few days to the body delivering.
"Now I can just pack out five or six hours a day and feel great," he said.
He also had rest days every five days in major towns including Lithgow, Bathurst, Orange and Dubbo.
Mr Lindhout is also carrying a green backpack weighing around 14 kilos.
"It started off a lot heavier, probably about 18 kilos but as I walked, I realised I had to get it down.
"I have to carry about five litres of water a day so it's probably about 14 kilos and by the end of the day it's about 12 [kilos] because I've drank all the water," he said.
Mr Lindhout said he was having a ball and is set to arrive in Sydney on April 20.
"I'm the guy with the green backpack walking out in the middle of nowhere.
"I will arrive in Parramatta on April 20 and be home for a few days before finishing up at the dawn service on Anzac Day in the city," he said.
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