A Travellerspoint blog

August 2007

A rest in Kempsey

Day 517 - 5484km

semi-overcast 21 °C

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A intimate chat at Tank FM

Sometimes Nathan and I have a chance to rest our bodies. So we can do the laundry, shopping, update the diaries and web sites, clean the van and plan the next 3 or 4 days....and thats a rest day!

Anyway we still had time for a chat on the local radio station 'Tank FM', an nery enjoyable conversation. When we came into Kempsey we got so many people who heard of this walk, some from the Prime TV interview, others saw the NBN TV interview of last week, and all we can say is "Tank you" :-)

It is now about 115km to Coffs Harbour, where I will have a set time of when the walk will be completed. I still have to consider which vehicle will be used on the last few days, as the rented van is running out of days and Namaste is now repaired but parked way behind not far from Raymond Terrace. I will have to make a decision how to work this out plus the best date to suit as many people as possible.

For now, many thanks for the people of Kempsey, and we will meet even more lovely people on the last 30 days or so.

Namaste

Frank Muldowney

Posted by fmuldowney 18:25 Archived in Australia Comments (0)

Tribute to Lorna Mitchell, MS Society.

Day 516 - 5470km

semi-overcast 24 °C

This is a private message of where 'Believing in Harvey' came from, and who let it free.

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Lorna 2nd from the right, organised the walk in Peru 2004.

In 1988 I was desperate to make a difference by walking across Ireland, just 3 years after my illness. No one would take a risk on me, as I have never walked anywhere and my health was in doubt. It never was really looked at seriously.

Six months later a neighbour told my mother, of the Irish Multiple Sclerosis Society walking event. A walk raising funds for MS, by 40 people who would walk about 300km from Nantes to Paris. Lorna Mitchell was the organiser, and as my speech was a problem in expressing myself, my mother made an appointment to see if the organiser would allow me to go.

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Lorna on the right giving me support of my own walk in 1993.

That day changed my life, as Lorna never seemed to doubt me, and I was allowed to go with an group of inspirational people to make a small difference for those who suffers from MS.

On that journey I met Jim Blewitt (RIP) who became my best friend, and dozens of new friends who re-educated me, and my own dream was born. I completed 13 international walks with this group and from these walks I knew the potential of creating a Global Pilgrimage for Peace.

From 1989 to today, Lorna Mitchell organised walks for MS in Europe, Africa, Asia, America North & South and because of it, new centres for MS sufferers have being built. She has not only helped the lives of those who suffers from MS, but she has created friendships between hundreds of people, creating a wave of optimism and possibilities. She took on the responsibilities of hundreds of people for near 2 decades on over 25 international walks across the world, and took a back seat on every journey.

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The MS walkers were awarded by the Taoiseach Bertie Aherne in 1997.

For myself, she opened a door for me, to express my own visions of peace, and 'Believing in Harvey' was born. I can only imagine the number or people whose lives were changed for the better, because or Lorna's determination and vision.

Lorna you may never know how many people you have touched, and this ripple effect will continue.

Namaste Lorna, have a wonderful retirement.

Frank Muldowney

Posted by fmuldowney 22:48 Archived in Ireland Comments (0)

CONCEPT - "Peace is Here"

"Believing in Harvey" - 6,000km from Perth to Byron Bay, and beyond.

sunny 27 °C

Ok, it may look like a joke, but last year, a 42 year old Irishman, walked 4,000 miles across Australia, claiming that World Peace is here. It becomes even more ludicrous when you discover that he pushed an empty wheelchair all the way, carrying ‘Harvey’ and invisible character, who the Dubliner says, is the most important person you will meet. You will see quickly that this is not your average long distant walker.

It is hard to believe but this story comes from the experiences of a lateral thinking, disabled, brain damaged, Mr Frank Muldowney. He was a talented artist during his school years but at 19 years old in 1985 he suffered from a brain haemorrhage, leaving him with speech, visual and comprehension problems. His art career seemed to be over but in time Mr Muldowney describes his disabilities as ‘a blessing in disguise’, as to him noting is really bad or good, it depends on how you look at it. "I am still the same artist in my mind" said Frank.

Mr Muldowney spent time in therapy, to improve his speech and comprehension. He got involved with charity walks for the MS Society, raising funds for MS suffers, but also built up Frank’s health and confidence. He was in Roslyn Park College being trained with other disabled people, to fit into society and find employment. Frank's instincts lead him to a different path and after getting a job in the local Credit Union, in his spare time he returned to focus on his own imaginative artistic skills. He created a character who he aimed to use as the centre of attention to express his own thoughts and imaginations, through a long walk, a film and the media. This was his dream, with the intention to question the mind-set, that peace will never happen.

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Harvey was reborn - Happy Frank

The Dubliner adopted ‘Harvey’ the invisible character from the eponymous classic film of the same name. “I was depressed soon after the operation in 85’", said Frank, "and by chance an empty wheelchair was parked beside my bed. I felt my own dreams were now in that wheelchair. ‘Harvey’ is like a child's invisible friends, important in your life, but can't be seen and hard to achieved. I felt, I must see through the disabilities what this wheelchair represents and find away to express myself, by making Harvey known, like any dream."

NBN 6 O'Clock News, New South Wales

He continues, “In my life, I learned that the universal dream is, the desire for peace. I spent time thinking, what exactly is ‘war' and 'peace'. Through years of travelling, I now believe that War and Peace are more a personal feeling and perception of the world, not something real that can be bought. War, to me, is one living in fear, and peace is one living happily. How can anyone create a peaceful world who is unhappy, one has no concept of what peace would be like. I knew I must first "feel peace" in myself, in my thoughts, attitudes and belief. It did not take long to actually feel peace in my heart, through my own imaginations an feelings. It was incredible. Anyone can experience this feeling, by thinking of one of the best times of your own life, then focus on that memory. The more one does it, the more one experiences a real feeling of inner peace. That is what peace is to me, a personal feeling deep in your soul, that cannot be seen and cannot be taken from you. So I do not see any conflict, political or military creating solutions to peace, when in fact it is only the individual who can create peace in him or herself. "

"I had a lot of deep hatred in myself, about many things, disability, injustice, mass murder, the list was getting longer. The wisdom of my grandmother eventually cured me over time. She never seemed to hate anyone, as she would put it 'When you won't forgive, you then have hate. With hate, you will never feel peace, until you are brave enough to forgive. When you can forgive, you are then finally free.'
"If I decide to be unhappy because of my disabilities, or to live in fear by alleged war or terrorism, then that is my misfortune. If I however decide to live as happily as I can and forgive those I used to hate, then I am at peace and spread my happiness to others. I am now, no longer in that wave of fear or hate and I am creating my own wave of peace, going in the other direction."

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The inspirational figures of Frank's life "Their dreams live on through our imaginations, through Harvey"

Frank confirms his own beliefs from a quotation from Albert Einstein - “Imagination is more important than knowledge. Knowledge is limited. Imagination encircles the entire world”

Consider that one day, Mr Frank Muldowney was unemployed living on a disability benefit. He got a job, saved as much he could, flew to one of the biggest countries in the world, picked up a wheelchair, assembled a team and walked across Australia. He ended up appearing on national television, radio and newspapers, met the Irish Ambassador and the Dalai Lama at a press conference in Canberra. Frank said – “I followed my heart, to see is it true that dreams can become real. Not only that happened, but now I have the words to express myself which I did not have before. I know how really lucky I am, however it takes courage to live a dream and the benefits after is, inner peace and contentment.”

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On the road pushing Harvey with the back up team blocking traffic! - Frank introducing Harvey to the Irish Ambassador in Canberra.

Frank is now resting in Dublin, with ‘Harvey’ of course. His next journey is from Dublin to Belfast, hopefully in July this summer, a walk of celebration for the peace that was achieved in Ireland last year. He is planning to make a documentary of the short walk which Frank believes is a pilgrimage of peace, joining the 2 capitals together in peace. Belfast will not be his last walk, as he intends to continue the walk to Glasgow, Edinburgh, Cardiff and ending in London.

You may see Frank and Harvey at the St Patrick’s Day Parade in Dublin, at the Grandstand at St Parnell Square.

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An Taoiseach giving Frank an award in 1998 - Completing his walk around Ireland in 1993 with the Dublin Lord Mayor

by Eva de Lange

Email - fmuldowney@yahoo.com
Web Site - www.believinginharvey.com

"The only people who have felt world peace, is those who had nothing to fear" - Frank Muldowney

Posted by fmuldowney 18:30 Archived in Ireland Comments (1)

The last 500km

Dat 512 - 5400km

sunny 24 °C

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A happy day in Sydney

I am now resting in Kew, a small town just 24km short of Port Macquarie.

It is probably ther first time that I feel the walk is coming to an end in Australia. I know I could walk this last 500 in 20 days, but I would rather have patience and see what else is possible to promote Harvey and the meaning of this pilgrimage.

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Over the last few weeks, I have received positive reactions to local councils and information offices who see the possibility of large numbers of peaceful minded walkers, travelling through this path in the future. This idea of a pilgrimage of peace can improve towns who have been bi-passed or have struggled over the years like Norseman, Karuah or Buladelah. I will not be able to speak officially about this idea until the walk is over, then I think I have a lot of letters to write.

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Having a chat with a friend in Karuah

For me it is a time to rest, and think of my loved ones in Ireland and Europe and of course here in Australia, as it is those who have carried me so many years to have this opportunity, trying to make a difference.

It's the trying is always the key.

Namaste

Frank

Posted by fmuldowney 19:30 Archived in Australia Comments (0)

It's Taree (not Tralee!)

Day 510 - 5310km

all seasons in one day 17 °C

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Nathan taking a imaginative picture in Newcastle

After 5 days of, heavy, light, consistent and persistent rain, we finally had a dry'ish day when we reached the friendly and cheerful town of Taree.

The journalists of NBN TV and the 'Taree Times' met us on the main bridge as we walked into the town. It is always lovely to meet people who greet you with a smile, and it's needed when we are both tired, with so many targets still to do each day.

As the journey is coming to an ending (of sorts!) a few are now asking about a date when I reach Byron Bay. Well I feel the 22nd is a very good guess right now (give or take a week either way), but firstly I will be asking as many people who were so important in making this event possible. I will be setting a date that suits the most numbers of those who wish to be there. So I will be texting and calling quite a few people, and I will try to pick the best date, but I will not be able to choose a date that suits everyone.

Tomorrow I start the next 80km to Port Macquarie, and it will not be too long when I reach Coffs Harbour.

Kilometres dissapear very quickly when it is coming to last 500.

Namaste

Frank & Nathan

Posted by fmuldowney 23:11 Archived in Australia Comments (0)

Rain stop play!

Day 504 - 5270km

rain 16 °C

I am in a small town called Bulahdelah (yes a mouthful) I was aiming to walk another 25km today but the heavens opened, and its supposed to be a wet spell until Thursday.

Today it was close to a storm, heavy rain all night and day, with gusts which was enough to put me off walking on the Freeway or Highway. The wind is always the main problem, but heavy rain mixed makes it a little too dangerous for me. I have been lucky weather-wise on this journey but why be a wet sponge all day where the drivers wont even see me.

I aim to walk again tomorrow, and hope to reach Taree in 4 days. I hope to update this blog soon, where I can add some pictures of this week.

Special thanks to Andrew and Daphne for the help and support with our time in Raymond Terrace and at The Funny Farm and we wont forget Colin Ron and Paul who have put a smile on our faces.

Thank you guys.

Namaste - Frank and Nathan

Posted by fmuldowney 19:23 Archived in Australia Comments (0)

Newcastle - the final major town

Day 496 - 5169km

sunny 25 °C

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The crow who followed me from Perth shows me the way :-)

I knew it was a long walk to Newcastle, probably 28km from Swansea. I was walking before 7am, but a strong western wind slowed me down. The road, the 111 Highway was pretty safe, and at about 17km I met Nathan in Charlestown for lunch. A much needed rest.

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Harvey reaches the coast on the east in Newcastle

I was feeling a little weary, but I knew I will have a rest for one or two days before taking the next 160km to Taree. My mind seems a little clearer now. I know exactly the distance to Byron Bay, and I know that the councils and the information offices are the important people to promote this Pilgrimage. I firstly wished to promote it when the walk was over, but I am learning fast from the local councils so it is becoming a good idea to make sure all the councils know of this walk before I reach Byron Bay.

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The terrific staff of information office in Gosford - The dangerous roads I met on the way from Sydney.

I have not recorded much on the video camera, as I am tired after each days walk plus the number of people Nathan and I talk to about the walk and its purpose. It is just part of it, but the local people always give us a boost and thats probably why we do not rest that much. Even when we meet people who think peace will never happen, Nathan said once 'but if you could see it, would that change your view". It is true, like the Einstein quotation, "knowledge is limited", you have to use your imagination and your vision of peace to create it.

I have learned a great deal on this journey. I came here to make friends with anyone of any type, and I am proud of myself that I have given my opinion and my respect to everyone. I don't seem to have a single enemy, it is a lovely feeling. I understand the importance of making friends with the enemy. To me this is the key to creating peace. It is far too easy to be loving and caring to your friends, and spend no time with ones you don't like - really that means you are only building walls between people. I have met so many people on this journey who feel their own opinions are more important than other peoples feelings, some are neighbours, or just people they just met. Sometimes these people inadvertingly create hatred between people, no different than terrorists. When that happens, I prefer to be alone rather share my company with them, some just will not change. But I believe that in time they will understand why they are limited in making friends. The brotherhood of man, is everyone, not just the ones you like.

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Diversions after diversions - Bobby made me a safer path.

I have learned more from people who are nothing like me, and have complete opposites of my opinions. My way is simple, I respect their views, but they must respect mine - thats the way to end friction and build an understanding thus a friendship. If one cannot understand the other persons opinions, then it is you and I have failed to make friends. I was proud to be Irish when I heard of the peace agreement in Ireland. I read it in Time magazine, even though there is no solution if there will be a united Ireland or not, but is it important? We have peace first, that was always the first priority.

I hope I will have the opportunity to speak to as many people as possible in the final month, and after that a long rest to recharge my batteries, until the next journey.

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The day we were on NBN TV 6 o'clock News.

Namaste to all those who helped us, we are very privilaged to meet them.

Frank Muldowney

Posted by fmuldowney 17:54 Archived in Australia Comments (1)

NBN TV interview with Harvey?

Day 493 - 5090km

sunny 22 °C

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Walking into Gosford was one of the most enjoyable day so far on this long journey.
I had to get past several diversions as the Pacific Highway is damaged because of the storms early in the year, some parts are now washed away. I have also decided to walk about an extra 30km's to ignore the Freeway, as it is the most dangerous road I have seen so far on the journay - no rest for me coming to the end!

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NBN TV parked beside the van - The dangerous road coming into Gosford

Finally I was now close to Gosford, and Nathan appeared with the 'Boat' (its our rented 2 berth van, named Boat by Nathan) and seconds after, the film crew of NBN appeared. We all had a good time to speak about this walk and it's meaning, and even Harvey was asked a question - sadly we never saw the 6 o'clock news, but the reaction the next day shows it was shown as passers by were bleeping the horns, and calling, 'mad Irishman - good onya'.

In one day we were on 2 radio stations, one newspaper article, and one TV interview, and we were then welcomed for a relaxing evening with Tiffany, a positive minded and inspiring person. She is a new friend who I knew of from our friends in Melbourne. Thanks Tiffany and all the media people who have made our day.

A final thought to the volunteers of the Information office in Mann Street Gosford, who made tea and biscuits, gave us directions and wisdom for the future. Thank you gents and ladies, it was a joy to meet you.

What a challenging but successful day.

I hope to update this blog later on the journey, including the TV interview, and a PDF of the newspaper article.

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New pictures from Jennifer (photographer) who walked with us a few weeks ago across the Harbour Bridge. Thank you Jennifer and Vincent

Posted by fmuldowney 22:18 Archived in Australia Comments (0)

Back on The Road

Day 489

rain 13 °C

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This is just a quick update that Nathan, Frank and of course Harvey are back on the road.

We left Syndey City Centre, yesterday to pick up the rented van in Carlton to complete the journey. Then Nathan drove us back to where the walk stopped in Liverpool and I took a short start again to Parramatta.

This morning was a wet and noisy main road to about 9km short of Hornsby, as we have a lot of replanning ahead, including finding the safest walk to Byron Bay.

Next target is Newcastle in about a week, so I will have a few words with the police about how to get passed the bridges with no width. There is always a challenge on each route.

Namaste

Frank Muldowney

Posted by fmuldowney 22:47 Archived in Australia Comments (0)

Harvey' crosses the Harbour Bridge

Day 484 - 5000km

sunny 22 °C

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Completed

It was a lovely day, and at 11.00am the people who could make it, to walk across the Sydney Harbour Bridge, made it a day of joy. Nathan and I were delighted to complete this short but symbolic part of the journey, bringing the kilometre count to over 5,000. Markham, Jennifer, Katja, Hazel, Vincent, Hinn Li joined in both the directions, the lifting, the photography and the conversations. It was a very enjoyable day for all of us, as I personally never saw this part being feasable until this moment. It was a great bonus.

It has been 'one' long journey, taxing and more difficult than I first thought. It is now into the 16th month of this pilgrimage for peace and I have no intentions of stopping now. It was in February 2006 when I was staying with my cousins in Perth, thinking 'is it worth it? so much to lose, with slim chances to make a difference. I had no driver yet, the vehicle I needed was hard to find and I was worried about my finances and my visa was getting close to over the limit. It did not looked possible then.

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Hinn Li and others gave Harvey a gentle push and a few carries over the steps, to cross this famous bridge.

In fact everything I wanted to start with, I couldn't. Instead I had to take a risk with no guarantee's. It came to be a leap of faith, that human kindness will carry me through this journey, and that was exactly what happened. Pushing Harvey across Australia was not a one mans mission. Harvey was guided, pushed, helped, oiled, repaired, loved and spoken too by hundreds from Perth to Serpentine, to Denmark, to Iron Knob, to Snowtown, to Violet Town, to Springhurst, to Moss Vale, to mention a few.

So did this walk make a difference? The answer is in the heart of those who met Harvey, and those who spoke of their dreams and desire for a more peaceful world. So the answer is simple, yes it made a difference, bringing imaginations and smiles combined, those who will think more of the possibilities of peace in the future. Thats the difference - more thoughts and visions of peace.

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It was a privilige to walk with these people, from China, Germany, New Zealand, Australia, Ireland, Scotland, and part Canadian.

Anything good, spreads, like a stone in a pond, the ripples of kindness cannot be stopped. It always take years for new ideas and new thinking to be understood, particularly ideas set in the future. All I know is the desire for peace in now stronger than ever. We now have peace in Ireland, that was against the odds. More the reason for all of us in Ireland to lead by example, by never go back to violence, and show what Ireland has achieved so much over the years that peace can be created in any place in any nation.

For now it's a time to thank those who made this journey possible, and a time to enjoy this day and the last month and a half to Byron Bay, where Harvey will have his greatest moment in front of the Light House.

Namaste

Frank Muldowney

PS Nathan still can't find Happy Guy, he was definitely not on the bridge! The search continues.

Posted by fmuldowney 00:37 Archived in Australia Comments (1)

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