DAN THE MAN: Sydney’s Dan Watson stops in Nowra after embarking on a journey from Perth to Sydney, travelling almost 5000 kilometres to raise money and awareness for cancer and mental health.FOR over four months, Dan Watson has walked the roads from Perth with his trusty trailer covering around 5000 kilometres to raise money and awareness for mental health and cancer.
When he stopped in Nowra he was dumbfounded to see “the maniac” he met on his trek across the Nullarbor Plain.
“This guy is an absolute legend,” he said.
Bob Findlay from Erowal Bay was heading home from Perth after a Hobie Cat championship competition.
“We were in the middle of nowhere. There were no trees and it was really hot,” he said.
“Then we saw Dan. We had a fridge on board and pulled over to offer him a cold beer and Gatorade.
“I think he was really shocked to see us. We only stayed for about three minutes to chat and we were off again.”
Dan said Bob and his friends were a “whirlwind of crazy, positive energy”.
“I hadn’t really had much human interaction and I was pushing around 110kg because I had to carry around 40kg of water. When these blokes pulled over and came running at me, they came and went like a tornado of charisma. It was just what I needed,” he said.
“Then I saw him again when I was on the road to Nowra dodging traffic and clinging for dear life to the edge of the roadside while campervans sped past me.
“I heard someone shouting ‘Dan, Dan!’ It took a minute for me to realise who it was.
“I couldn’t believe it. It was the first time I’ve met someone twice on my trip and he has probably been the most memorable personality as well.”
Dan said the journey was also about finding himself.
“I guess I battled depression most of my life due to my self-esteem issues. Basically I was kind of getting to a point with my career where I was unhappy and unhappy with myself and what I had become,” he said.
“At the same time during all of that, my mum was diagnosed with cancer. It wasn’t until she called to ask me to come home and tell me she missed me that was a real slap in the face to get over myself.
“That number one thing in your life is your health and after that I decided I wanted to do something to help other people and I just couldn’t work anymore.”
Dan has since raised around $15,000 for the Cancer Council and Sane Australia, but said the trip helped clear his own mind.
“The most peaceful times I’ve had were in the tent in the rainforest or somewhere away from the road with no one around,” he said.
“There is something healing about being surrounded by nature. It gives something back to you.
“It’s been a bit of a roller-coaster but from a mental point of view it’s sorted my head out and Mum is better, so the trip has become about the people I’ve met along the way.”
Dan said those who have shared mental health and cancer stories with him on the road helped him realise the importance of talking it out.
“It’s been nice to get some perspective. I’m so grateful to be alive,” he said.
“That’s the biggest gift I’ve been given on the trip.
“Physically I always knew I could walk that far.”
Dan said the past 10 days were the most taxing.
“The hills … but I have to say the toughest thing to deal with were the flies in Western Australia. It was possibly 2000 on me for 10 hours a day. It was just horrible,” he said.
To follow Dan’s adventures or to donate to his cause, visit inbetweendrinks.org.
For information about mental health and crisis links visit the Australian Government Department of Health website:www.health.gov.au/mentalhealth.
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