Charity group the Wandering Warriors have completed their 1300km march from Brisbane to the entrance of the Australian War Memorial in Canberra.
Three weeks, 1300kms, and legions of weeping blisters.
The Wandering Warriors stiffly trudged the final steps of their epic march from Brisbane to the entrance of the Australian War Memorial (AWM) in Canberra on Thursday.
A fund-raising initiative of the Australian SAS Association, the organisation has raised well in excess of $100,000 from this walk for charities that support veterans and their families.
A throng of supporters were on hand to cheer on the dozen ex-SAS soldiers – and two wives – up the memorial’s stairs, including charity patron Corporal Ben Roberts-Smith VC and AWM director Dr Brendan Nelson.
Boasting an average age of 66, the walk was no mean feat, says executive officer Quentin Masson.
“There’s a few sore bodies. Plenty of blisters and plenty of sore feet. But the guys are not adverse to pounding the pavement,” he said.
The team’s veteran is 76-year-old Geoff Gnapp.
He explains that each Wandering Warrior walked about 15 to 30kms per day in a relay-style trek.
He also completed last year’s inaugural 1600km walk from Brisbane to Birdsville, which raised $120,000, but reckons this year’s event was tougher.
“It was just harder with all the hills,” he said.
With the fundraising figure expected to surpass last year’s amount, the growth of the two-year-old charity can only be described as phenomenal, Mr Gnapp says.
That said, it might be time to pass the veteran baton to someone else.
“I’m wondering actually if it will be my swan song. I’ll make a decision later.”
CEO Audie Moldre says the inspiration behind his “silly idea” was to ensure our nation’s veterans never had to suffer like those who returned from the Vietnam War.
“Veterans from that war were treated fairly badly. We never want that to happen to today’s soldiers,” Mr Moldre said.