Melbourne to Brisbane walker visits Tea Gardens and Hawks Nest

Leon and Qualia outside Hawks Nest IGA.

YOU may have seen a man walking along the Myall Way on Monday, 24 April, the latest leg in his epic journey from Melbourne to Brisbane.

Leon Sappl, from Perth via Melbourne, had travelled Europe, but in hindsight, “I travelled with my eyes closed until I got to Cambodia.”

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A student of economics, Leon told NOTA, “In my early 20s naivety, I wanted to help, which is why I went to Cambodia as an ESL teacher.

“I soon began to see South East Asia as a ‘last frontier’ of sorts, realising the trauma left over from the Khmer Rouge regime, but also the heavy influences from Vietnam, Thailand and the USA.”

In Cambodia, Leon said he had witnessed such a different way of life and culture, that “the cognitive dissonance of the modern lifestyle became unbearable for me”.

“I wanted to undertake some kind of pursuit to appreciate how much we take for granted.”

The original plan was to trek from Cambodia to Europe, but after a series of personal and family issues, he found himself back in Australia, and was soon stuck in Melbourne’s rolling lockdowns.

“I quit my job and packed up my life in February, 2020, but couldn’t truly begin until September 2022,” Leon said.

“The idea is to see Australia’s east coast as though I am the first person to discover it,” Leon said, explaining why he chose to walk, rather than drive.

With his entire life compacted into a custom walking trailer, accompanied by his faithful Cambodian canine companion, Qualia, Leon had already faced massive trials and challenges before reaching the Myall Coast.

“Bellbird Hill, just outside Eden, really made me think about what I truly need to survive.”

“I now have a ‘serendipity’ philosophy, I will talk to the locals rather than use a map, accept help if offered, and use back roads and pedestrian trails where I can.

“The best experiences were the ones not planned,” Leon happily admitted.

By Thomas O’KEEFE

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