By Ashok Alexander
My name is Ashok Alexander had done business for many years. However, I made the mistake of employing a few 457 visa workers and paying them a similar salary to what was being paid to other staff with similar technical skills at that time i.e. during 2012-2013. This was lower than immigration regulations relating to 457 visa conditions and resulted in a legal case and the closure of the company, personally penalised.
I am not upset with the company closing in spite of the huge loss and how it affected the livelihood of our family as well as others employed in the company. It was a local business with so many skills and had made over 20 years of contributions to society at large. Personally, I didn’t take any income from my business for the last two years before the business closed and it was just an earnest effort to make the business work for all beneficiaries, the Government being the biggest of them all.
My walk is a start to bring the truth to the people, the risks associated and excessive handling. I have also paid another $2000 challenging the unfair legal fees of $152,000 and the ambiguous terms where it seems there is an intention to recover even the company charges from me. Total cost to me is over $860,000.
One key preparation was to move from sitting in office to getting more mobile, initially as basic as standing up when I can. Me and my wife, we used to do 5K walk regularly but also added first challenge to loose weight from 79 to 68 as per BMI so I went to a dietitian and got some recommendation and started losing the initial few kilos using herbalife shakes.
I was recommended to totally change my diet apart from the regular exercise. I joined badminton and yoga also. There were times that I felt back to square one. But the challenge was to keep on going. I have also tried growing a beard, practiced eating and drinking at longer intervals and taking quick breaks at 2-3km range. The long walk has many advantages in improving mind and body strength.
Start of the Walk – April 15th 2017
It was not easy to convince my family and close friends about my mission following my own doubts on my ability to finish such a long walk of over 4000km. When I started I was not sure how long I can go. So I thought of targeting to the nearest city Katherine, 350km away by pulling a small buggy with me. It went okay. I was lucky to have my son with me for first three days to give me a start. It was also so precious to have enough time to share with the teenage son which is a rare opportunity.
Once I reached Katherine, next challenge was to get to Tennant Creek. While the weather was cooling, I was faced with head on winds with hot days. That made me start walk as early as 3.30am to finish just close to sunset. I took a break between 11.30 and 2.00pm. During the time, I was seeing the body getting stronger to take on the challenge with the load I had to pull. Finally some routine set in and I reached Tennant Creek finishing the first 1000km, felt I was walking for a very long time but only reached this far. After a week’s break when I started the walk again, I got terribly sick on the second day with tummy issues. It was also the lonely and toughest stretch with not much water between Threeways and Mount Isa.
Unexpected help on the road, people from around the world and so many other incidents supported and made it easier for me. I could learn more about myself and the surroundings. After Mount Isa, the hills, bushy bit started and some rains gave challenges. However it was again a period of learning and understanding- taking enough breaks and taking one step at a time, one mile at a time, one town and one state. Queensland was a good experience with rich culture and historic places to visit. Later, Weather was getting colder and wind was getting stronger. There were interesting things to do and places to visit- farms, shearing sites, writing on the wall where Banjo Paterson sang Waltzing Matilda and meeting people from so many different places and backgrounds.
On a typical day of walk, I used to wake up, freshen up and prepare my breakfast & tea and dress appropriately for the weather before starting the walk. During the day I took couple of toilet/snack breaks. Around lunch, took a break, ate sandwich, most commonly tuna or other alternatives and then before sunset stopped at the suitable or planned rest place. Manage water very conservatively. Dinner generally was hot food of soup or noodles with some call or message to family of my location plus possible blog. Once lights were off, ideally I went to sleep. You really appreciate many more things from the power of Sun to healing of water, to people and huge benefits of even simple gadgets.
We understand ourselves much better mentally and physically, still feeling the insignificance compared to nature. That is real beautiful feeling of opposite extremes which makes it all that interesting. Similarly my walk also, normally it is a simple and easy task that anyone can do, but that also needed an advanced skill of planning, strength, organising and keep going as a mature adult.
Conclusion – 27th September 2017
Final stretch again, many people helped in small and big ways to reach the destination of Parliament House on 27th October 2017, covering 5771768 steps in 166 days. I had blogged the whole experience in details in [www.facebook.com/5millionsteps] for those interested. I recommend the audience to experience some outback life of Australia and enjoy places I came across and learn more about self by challenging yourself.