Nostalgic journey as Brown tackles highways to Dubbo

RETIRED Sydney Morning Herald journalist Malcolm Brown continues his journey from Sydney to Dubbo on a road he says has woven its way through his life.

It is a symbolic journey for the 65-year-old veteran reporter - with memories both good and bad - dotted along the highway that will take him back to his home town.

Yesterday the Daily Liberal spoke with Mr Brown as he made his way through the town of Springwood.

"It's taking me a lot longer than I expected- it took me eight hours to get from Parramatta to Penrith," he said.

Despite having put in gruelling hours training on the cycling tracks of Sydney, he admits the paths were flat and not quite of the same calibre as the hilly roads of the Blue Mountains, especially while carrying a heavy backpack.

"I was averaging around five kilometres an hour while I was training but at the moment I'm averaging about three to four kilometres."

He began the next leg of his journey yesterday with a group of supporters in tow.

"I've been accompanied by some members of the Blue Mountains Historical Committee which is going to celebrate the bicentennial of the crossing of the mountains next year," he said.

So far the heat had not been an issue and the journalist noted feeling quite fit and well, overall.

"I was saturated to the skin Christmas day because of heavy showers and the waterproof clothing I bought prior to the trip did me no good at all," he said.

"Since then it's been quite cool and pleasant."

Mr Brown expects the heat to become an issue after coming down from the mountains, but is well prepared with three military-style canteens holding two litres of water each.

He anticipates the pilgrimage further west will give him long hours to reflect on his life and in particular his childhood.

When asked if the walk would be a cathartic process for him in the coming days, he admitted it was most likely.

"The road has been the centre of my life, I remember the long trips we used to take from the time I was a baby to Sydney - Bathurst was always the mid-point," he said.

"There was Heath's Cafe and I guess it was a road of triumphs and sadness because it was the road that my elder brother (Owen) was taken to mental hospitals on, during his short and very unhappy life.

"On it I've seen road accidents and tragedies, as well as having done a lot of my boy scout hikes with the Dubbo Boy Scouts along it, the hinterland areas and along the Macquarie River.

Bald Hill at Geurie was also a fondly remembered climbing destination for the young Malcolm.

He admits the journey along the Great Western Highway onto the Mitchell Highway will be soaked in nostalgia for him.

"It has woven its way through my life - I lived a block away from it when I lived in Dubbo and I worked beside it at and studied beside it at Sydney University, so I have always had associations with it."

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