FORMER Dubbo journalist Malcolm Brown, 65, who has just retired from the Sydney Morning Herald after 40 years service, has set off on a most ambitious project - a journey to Dubbo, on foot, starting at Martin Place on Christmas Day.
"I have been asked why on earth I am doing this," Mr Brown said.
"I guess the short answer is that it is there. But more fundamentally it is a symbolic return to my roots.
"I was born beside the Mitchell Highway in 1947. And all my life I have lived or worked next to it or a few blocks away, including 20 years on Broadway.
"It is a fascinating road. It was the first thrust inland in Australian history. From the 17th Century the explorers and seafarers had only seen the periphery.
"Even Sydney was hemmed in. It took them a quarter century to work out how to cross the mountains.
"But once they did it, what a glorious history was forthcoming.
"I am going to go right back into that history, following some of the road William Cox built in 1814-15, then go to the goldfields, and the places where bushrangers did their business, and to Wellington, the furthest west the soldiers and convicts ever went. I am going to write it up for the Herald."
Mr Brown will carry a backpack and water canteens. He will stay with friends on the way to Lithgow, then his sisters Meredith and Jill will take turns being road crew for him, driving ahead to designated places.
"But I'll be walking the whole way. I have scheduled 14 days at an average of 30 kilometres a day, with rest days at Mt Victoria and Molong. I intend to reach Dubbo on Wednesday, January 9," he said.
"My wife has packed all my medications - depressingly long, including blood pressure and arthritis tablets - and of course there is only going to be one question on the minds of readers.
"That is whether I am going to make it."