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Wandering 6000 kilometres for mental health awareness

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Wandering 6000 kilometres for mental health awareness

By MARGARET DEKKER

This is no walk in the park. Nor is it an average day-hike or overnighter on a clearly marked trail.
The Wandering Minds Walk is a 6-thousand-kilometre trek (more or less) over a year, solo, carrying 18-kilograms of everything needed for survival with not everything going to plan, on a huge open trail from southernmost Wilsons Promontory in Victoria to northernmost Cape York in Queensland, and all that vast, changing country in between.
Doing it is Bailey Seamer, a 23-year-old Newcastle woman whose mission it is to raise awareness, education and important funds for mental health, step by determined step.
“I see it as going for a hike every day for a year,” Bailey laughed when The Northern Rivers Times caught up with her, shortly after walking the length of Yuraygir National Park from Minnie Water to Yamba and the big stretch from Woody Head to Evans Head, where Bailey was catching her breath.

Bailey Seamer starts her “WANDERING MINDS WALK” a one-woman trek along the east coast of Australia.

“My walking’s not really measured in kilometres walked but hours walked each day, and usually I walk between eight and ten hours a day, most days,” Bailey Seamer said.
Starting May 18 from remote South Point at ‘The Prom,’ Bailey’s extraordinary feat is made all the more remarkable as hers is a path neither signposted nor contained whole in a guidebook, and far exceeds the 4-thousand-kilometre distance by road.
“It’s kind of a course of .. just walk North!” Bailey laughed.
.. Over beaches and bushland, river crossings and scrub .. and the dreaded impassable headland requiring the dreaded “backtrack.”
“I have to all the time!” Bailey said.
“It’s not all fun, some days I absolutely hate it because of physical injury or psychological stress or environmental factors I face.
“But I do get these windows of absolute positivity and beauty which make it all worth it. Let’s just say it’s 90-percent grind and 10-percent pleasure,” Bailey Seamer said.
This third-year nursing student has already raised $30-thousand dollars for the Black Dog Institute to help fund research, resources, and services for better mental health. 1 in 5 Australians will experience symptoms of mental illness in any one year.
“ .. that’s around 5 million people. And roughly 60% of these people won’t seek help,” the Blackdog Institute states.
Now 2100 kilometres into her northern ascent, it’s also a personal journey for Bailey Seamer who experiences bipolar disorder.
“I was in psych hospitals as a young adult, but I got to a crossroads in my life where I said, ‘this can’t be it’ – I was told I’d struggle to ever work, hold down a relationship, finish a Uni. degree and it really did feel like an absolute sentence,” Bailey Seamer said.
“But then I thought ‘this suffering can’t be everything I ever have.’ There had to be more to life, and I realised I could help others.
“You could say, I was more scared of living the life I was then living .. than to take the jump to do something that may actually kill me!” Bailey said.
And mid-way along her quest, Bailey Seamer is living proof anything’s possible.
“You could say, I’m taking my mental illness on the road. It would seem impossible, managing a mental illness while simultaneously walking, that that’s where the problems would lie, but starting was the hardest thing to do. And it’s shown me that I can show others with mental illness that you can have a life and passions, you can do it,” she said.
It’s a journey complete with unique coping strategies, to keep this one-woman show on the road, including her ‘Tantrum Timer’ when feelings ‘bubble’ and stress builds.
“I set the Tantrum Timer to six minutes, throw the pack down whether it’s bush or beach, I scream, cry, let it all out like a toddler at the shopping centre and when the timer goes off, I pick myself up, brush myself off and get going,” she smiled.
Because when the going gets tough, the tough get going, inspiring others.
“People have contacted me saying ‘You’re the reason I got out of bed in the morning, because of what you’re doing, given what you’ve overcome to do this,’” Bailey Seamer said.
As she draws her own inspiration from her late Grandma’s mottos:
“If you’re brave enough to try, you’re brave enough to succeed ..”
And: “Courage is not the absence of fear but deciding something else is more important than fear itself.”
As Bailey treks ever north, parallels are drawn between her and American woman Cheryl Strayed who, at a similar 22 years of age, hiked 1770 kilometres up the Pacific Crest Trail on America’s West Coast, inspiring a best-selling book and movie.
“People do say, ‘you’re that ‘Wild’ movie person and I go ‘yeah, kind of, but I don’t have the endless views and I have a lot of mud!’” Bailey Seamer laughed.
“But it’s a similar thing, giving up everything to try and create a better reality.”
From here, the reality is at least 700 more kilometres of coastline to Seventeen Seventy near Gladstone in Queensland, where Bailey finally turns in.
“From there up, there are crocodiles! So, I’ll have to turn inland to get to Cape Tribulation,” she conceded.
Her father, greatest supporter, and former Newcastle Knights player Scott Seamer will join his daughter for the last leg of this epic adventure, all the way to the Cape.
“I know once it’s over, I will reflect on this trip with a lot of fondness, like any adventure, once it’s done, I will be like ‘I can’t believe I did that.”
“This will be with me for the rest of my life, to take with me wherever I go, that I walked the East Coast of Australia. It’s good to have this in my back pocket, that my own capability is immeasurable,” Bailey Seamer said.
Just don’t tell this walking warrior to ‘live in the moment ..’
“These people haven’t tried a river crossing!” she laughed.
.. before I ask the obvious question to the one woman who’s walking the entire East Coast of Australia solo and carrying a heavy pack: “How are your FEET?”
“Haha! My body is refusing to grow skin now on certain parts because it just comes off again anyway .. But my Soloman boots, they’ve been phenomenal, they’re my Four-Wheel-Drives,” she said, while still on her original pair!
And her Top-3 highlights this far?
• Jervis Bay “beautiful weather, no people, sunrises and just dolphins everywhere ..”
• Yuraygir National Park “was gorgeous coming up through Yamba and Iluka ..”
• Taronga Zoo’s ‘Roar and Snore’ experience
As Bailey Seamer laces up for yet another leg of this one-woman triumph.
“From here at Evans Head, I’ll zip up to Ballina by the beach .. it’s 40-something K’s (kilometres) then to Lennox to Byron Bay. Yes, a big couple of days!” she said.
It’s almost a marathon. In more ways than one.
“Yeah I do think of that sometimes .. But if I stop, I don’t get anywhere,” Bailey Seamer opined.
Infinite wisdom already, from this 23-year-old’s infinite journey of a lifetime.
“I didn’t expect this trip would harden me the way it already has, make me more cynical in fact, that it’s not this whimsical walk in a flowy dress but that out there, there are real life or death challenges.
“My perception on reality is now very different, what’s important now are safety, shelter, food, and water. I have a whole new understanding of what is a problem.
“And if change is going to happen, you can’t dictate how it will happen, and it’s likely to have both positive and negative aspects but that’s just what comes with it,” Bailey Seamer shared from her wandering and wondering mind.
“And I have a whole new appreciation for something as simple as a bench seat!
“You could say I had my ‘Forrest Gump’ moment,” she laughed.
Indeed, ‘Walk Bailey Walk’ – for another 2000 kilometres, and more.

Bailey Seamer

Heading North! 6000 kms to Cape York


CLICK HERE TO DOWNLOAD BAILEYS STORY

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Three FRNSW Veterans Honoured with Australian Fire Service Medal

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Three FRNSW Veterans Honoured with Australian Fire Service Medal

 

Three distinguished veterans of Fire and Rescue NSW (FRNSW) have been awarded the Australian Fire Service Medal (AFSM) in recognition of their exceptional service and dedication to community safety. The AFSM, established in 1988, honours the distinguished service of firefighters, both permanent and volunteer, and is presented annually on the King’s Birthday by the Governor-General, based on recommendations from Commonwealth and State ministers.

This year’s honourees are:

Assistant Commissioner – Regional Operations, Cheryl Anne Steer

Assistant Commissioner Cheryl Anne Steer began her career 28 years ago and has risen through the ranks to lead Regional Operations for FRNSW. Known for her operational excellence and effective management of major emergencies, she also mentors female firefighters and promotes values-based leadership. As co-chair of the FRNSW Women’s Inclusive Network (WIN) and director of the Relief and Welfare Fund, she supports colleagues in need. Additionally, she contributes to documenting the history of female firefighters at the Museum of Fire.

Chief Superintendent – Capability Management, Paul Johnstone

Chief Superintendent Paul Johnstone has dedicated 38 years to the fire service since joining the New South Wales Fire Brigades in 1985. His career includes roles in inner Sydney, Operational Staffing, and HAZMAT/Counter Terrorism. He has led significant improvements in medical capabilities, firefighter training, and in-water rescue capabilities. His contributions extend to enhancing policies, standards, and procedures, and he played a critical role in the response to the 2021/22 floods.

Captain, Paul James Dorin, Corrimal Fire Station

Captain Paul James Dorin joined FRNSW in 1993 as an On-Call firefighter. He is known for his commitment to community service and has developed numerous safety initiatives, including the Home Care Disability Fire Safety Program and the Smoke Alarm Action Day project. Beyond his duties, Captain Dorin is a talented cartoonist, using his art to raise funds for research into birth defects and childhood diseases such as cancer and epilepsy.

FRNSW Commissioner Jeremy Fewtrell praised the award recipients for their exemplary service and dedication. “All three firefighters are widely recognized for their devotion to duty and their professional, thoughtful, and caring approach to their work,” Commissioner Fewtrell stated. “I’m personally very proud of them and they thoroughly deserve the recognition.”

Emergency Services Minister Jihad Dib highlighted the professionalism and commitment of the honourees, stating, “Their professionalism consistently gets the job done. They have earned this recognition through courage and commitment, and I’m very pleased these firefighters are being honoured on the King’s Birthday in this way.”

 

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War Memorials Across NSW to Receive Funding

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War Memorials Across NSW to Receive Funding

 

The NSW Government has announced funding for 19 war memorials across the state through Round 2 of the 2023/24 Community War Memorials Fund. A total of $150,000 has been allocated to support projects that preserve and enhance these significant community landmarks.

Funding Details

This round saw 28 applications from 23 Local Government Areas, with successful applicants coming from 16 Local Government Areas and representing 13 electorates. The funded projects span the state, from Bombala in the far south to Lake Cargelligo in the west, and McKees Hill in the far north.

Key highlights include:

  • Bombala RSL sub-Branch: Awarded $10,000 for a condition assessment of the Bombala War Memorial to identify necessary conservation works.
  • Blackheath War Memorial Arch: Also receiving funds for vital conservation efforts.

The Community War Memorials Fund aims to ensure that local war memorials remain well-maintained and continue to serve as places of reflection and remembrance.

Ministerial Comments

Minister for Veterans, David Harris, expressed pride in the initiative, emphasizing the importance of preserving these historical sites.

“It is wonderful to announce this funding, which will be used for important projects around the state. Our communities are proud of their military history, and local war memorials are a vital part of our culture enabling us to reflect on over 100 years of our veterans’ service and sacrifice.

A total of $150,496.65 was awarded to councils, RSL sub-Branches, and community groups, with grants ranging from $2,000 to $15,000 to fund conservation projects in 13 state electorates in both metropolitan and regional areas. I encourage all communities to review the status of their local war memorials and to apply for funding for any restoration work that is needed.”

Community Responses

Mr. Vern Carmody, Honorary Secretary of the Bombala RSL sub-Branch, expressed gratitude for the grant which will aid in the preservation of the Bombala War Memorial.

“Thank you to the NSW Government for this grant for the heritage assessment of our wonderful war memorial at Bombala. This will assist us to attain an assessment of the repairs and conservation required for this historical cenotaph that was erected for the citizens of Bombala in 1922. The memorial is a centrepiece of the Dawn Service and Veterans’ March every Anzac Day, and also used for Remembrance Day activities. Bombala RSL sub-Branch would also like to thank the staff of the Snowy-Monaro Regional Council who assisted us in the preparation of the grant application.”

Dr. Rosemary Dillon, CEO of Blue Mountains City Council, highlighted the cultural and historical significance of local war memorials.

“Local war memorials are central features of our towns and villages, and they are precious to us all. They pay respect to those who put their country and their fellow servicemen and women before them. They are an ode to those who fought so we can have the freedoms we take for granted today. Erected around 1929, the Blackheath War Memorial contains 76 names of local men who served overseas in the First World War, including six who died on active service. This funding will go towards restoration works at Blackheath War Memorial, which will help with the protection and conservation of the memorial for years to come.”

Next Steps

Round 1 of the 2024/25 Community War Memorials Fund is currently open and will close on 24 July 2024. Communities are encouraged to review their local war memorials and apply for funding to address any conservation needs.

For more information and to apply for funding, visit the NSW Veterans Affairs website.

Conclusion

The NSW Government’s commitment to funding war memorials underscores the importance of preserving these sites as part of Australia’s cultural heritage. By providing financial support for their upkeep, the government ensures that future generations can continue to honour and remember the sacrifices made by veterans.

 

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Annual Trout Fishing Closure Commences After June Long Weekend

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Annual Trout Fishing Closure Commences After June Long Weekend

 

Recreational fishers are reminded that the annual fishing closure in trout streams and rivers across NSW is in place from Tuesday, 11 June 2024.

NSW Department of Primary Industries (DPI) Senior Fisheries Manager for Fish Stocking and Enhancement, Matthew McLellan, stated that the annual closure allows salmonid species to breed uninterrupted during their spawning run.

“The four-month closure ensures we protect our fishing assets for future seasons,” Mr. McLellan said.

Fishing During the Closure

During this time, recreational fishers can still enjoy fishing at popular trout dams across NSW such as:

  • Lake Jindabyne and Eucumbene Dam in the Snowy Mountains
  • Oberon Dam near Bathurst
  • Talbingo Dam near Tumut
  • Malpas Dam near Armidale

Fishers can also enjoy quality angling in the Macquarie River (excluding tributaries above its junction with, and including, Lewis Ponds Creek) and the Turon River and tributaries (below the Upper Turon Road crossing).

The fishing season for trout and salmon in trout rivers and streams will re-open on Saturday, 5 October 2024, coinciding with the start of the October long weekend.

Trout Fishing Rules

Detailed information on trout fishing rules can be found on the DPI website, NSW DPI FishSMART app, and the NSW Freshwater Fishing Guide, which is available from NSW DPI Fisheries offices and most bait and tackle stores.

Compliance and Regulations

NSW DPI Director Fisheries Compliance, Dr. Andrew Moriarty, emphasised that it is an offence to fish in trout streams during the closed season.

“DPI Fisheries Officers will be patrolling the State’s inland waterways throughout the trout closure period to ensure compliance,” Dr. Moriarty said.

Fishers heading to any trout dams this winter are reminded that they must have a current NSW recreational fishing fee receipt (fishing licence) on them at all times while fishing.

A combined bag limit of five and a size limit of 25 cm applies to trout or salmon in all trout dams, except in artificial fly and lure dams where the bag limit is two.

Reporting Illegal Fishing Activity

Members of the public are encouraged to report any suspected illegal fishing activity to the Fishers Watch phone line on 1800 043 536 or via the NSW DPI website.

 

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