When I came across this hard-core group of 5 walkers (and Milly the fur baby) plus a support team who are preparing to walk the 1850km Canning Stock Route and fund raise in May in the name of stopping the stigma around mental illness, I couldn’t help but share their story. It’s up close, personal gut-wrenching and inspirational. Here’s the story from one of the walkers Rosemary. Amanda – Founder MHC.
I am 43 years old and am born and bred in Geraldton Western Australia 400km’s North of Perth. I am married to Mick Weber and have 3 children and 2 step children. I am a clinical nurse at the Geraldton Health Service. On the 18th May me and 4 other walkers will commence our walk of the Canning Stock Route, we will be walking a distance of 30-35kms per day. Some of the main challenges will be the cold especially at night, muscle related fatigue, carrying all our food and water/equipment each day (the support vehicles will not be with us during the day – we will meet them at a designated camp spot each night, they will pass us once each day after they have broken from camp each morning, we leave a couple of hours before them).
On the 18th May 2015 me (Rose Weber) and a team of 4 other walkers (Sarah Whitmarsh, Cathy Williams, Jo Graham and our only boy Samuel Lancaster who is only 15 years old are going to commence a walk of the Canning Stock Route from Wiluna to Halls Creek a distance of 1850 km’s, in Western Australia. We will be supported with three vehicles and their drivers Mick Weber (my husband head logistics/support vehicle), Saxon Weber – (our son) logistics/support driver, and Barbara Rebola (friend) coordinator/support driver.Suicide of Rosemary’s brother
My aim is to stop the stigma associated with mental illness, depression, anxiety situational crisis and any other causes leading up to suicide. Our aim is by stopping the stigma then anyone in need of help will go and get it without feeling like they would be judged. What inspired me to organise and do something so difficult is after the loss of my brother to suicide in 2011. He was a typical man who was suffering from depression and kept it to himself till it was too late. I am a clinical nurse with mental health experience and he didn’t even tell me. It wasn’t till after he died that we found antidepressant scripts and doctors letters in his house dating back 10 years, which he never filled out.
My brother was of the mindset that if you tell someone you are depressed then you are weak, he would not wanted to be judged so he told no one, instead he took his own life when he could take no more.
I decided that I would no longer accept stigma associated with mental illness – so I came up with the idea of doing something dramatic physically and mentally like ride a bicycle for 5000kms or walk through a desert to get people’s attention. So then I can talk about the real reasons of doing endurance events and feel a little of what they are feeling every day and never give up I will stop stigma so no one will ever feel judged and get the help they so desperately need One Step At A Time.
Canning Stock Route – one of the most difficult tracks on earth
Canning Stock Route is the longest and one of the most difficult tracks on Earth. It leads through the most remote and inhospitable areas of West Australia, crosses three deserts and climbs over nine hundred steep sand hills. For nearly 1850 kilometres there is no decent supply of food or water and no safe way of escape.
The CSR is the most demanding 4WD route in Australia. There are drives that are rougher, sand dunes that are taller and floodway’s that are stickier, but no track compares with the CSR in terms of sheer distance and the mechanical and physical endurance required.
We chose the Canning Stock Route as a metaphor to anyone suffering from depression, metal illness or suicidal thoughts, to keep going no matter how tough the road is ahead physically or mentally, you can do it – Just one step at a time.
Mick and I have also done a 5000 km bicycle ride along with our son Saxon in April/May 2013 through WA remote inland roads heading north then back down the coast to Geraldton. We dropped off over 3000 resource packs full of information on where to get help if you are ever feeling suicidal and the treatment options available from medical, psychological, support group information – Beyond Blue, Kids helpline, Life Line etc.
The logistics involved in preparing for such a trek of the Canning Stock Route commenced 2 years before the departure date. It included securing sponsors to help us complete the trek and cardio and weight training so we would be able to cope with the endurance needed for such a feat. I train for 2 hours a day, which I fit in with work and life.
For two years it was with the support of my husband five grown children, my brother’s son (my nephew) that we have been creating awareness. Now we have a team of people behind us including more walkers, support drivers, volunteers who do all the behind the scenes work.
Support One Step at a Time Canning Stock Route
Our official website www.suicideawareness.simplesite.com shows in more detail their sponsors and also contains the logistics of their trek, photos, information on all the walkers, support vehicles drivers and volunteers. Our website also has information about their 5000km bicycle ride completed in April/May 2013 for the same cause.
We also have a fundraising website;
We have now formed a community Facebook Page called:
One Step at a Time Canning Stock Route
Our crew behind the scenes
Thanks also to our IT and communications volunteers:
More About Me: (The fun stuff- short 1 line answers max)
I’m excited by: Being outdoors
I couldn’t do without: My family and friends
My favourite coffee is: Nescafe cappucino
I relax by: Yoga
My life wouldn’t be the same without: My children and family
I’m happiest when: I am travelling anywhere outdoors
When I was little I always wanted to: Be a nurse and travel around Australia
My dream holiday is: Camping on the beach
Words to live by: Never Give Up
Support is available for those who are experiencing suicidal thoughts or if you know someone who is:
- 13 11 14
Suicide Call Back Service
- 1300 659 467
- 1800 55 1800