Captain Australia’s Big Walk

Captain Australia (Simon Harvey) was joined by Harley, Sharni C, Sharni S, Bec and Kaz during his stop in Sale last week. Photo: Stefan Bradley

Stefan Bradley

Captain Australia’s not-so secret identity is Simon Harvey, a cancer survivor who has now walked for more than 80 days as part of ‘Captain Australia’s Big Walk’ to raise money for a good cause.

“Dressed as the boofhead superhero Captain Australia, I am superheroing up for science to help a charity called The Kids’ Cancer Project,” Mr Harvey said.

“I started from King George Square in Brisbane on Boxing Day, and will end at Federation Square in Melbourne.”

When Mr Harvey spoke to the Gippsland Times on Princes Highway in Sale on March 8, he had only taken three rest days during his odyssey.

“I got injured in Coffs Harbour, so I needed to rest up to heal a foot injury, and another day I had to rest up because of a tickle in my throat, and I took time off to go out on the ocean in Mallacoota, which was lovely,” Mr Harvey said.

“The soles of my feet are in daily pain at the moment. I was really good until about day 65, and I’m carrying this pack which is about 20 to 30kg when I’m fully stocked on water, so I’ve probably done some permanent damage to my feet to be honest.

“But I’m so close to the finish line, I’m going to knuckle down and power through.”

Mr Harvey’s motivation for the Big Walk was his inability to get past the ramifications of his own cancer.

“It was Stage 4 and I was given six months to live. It was head and neck cancer, and I beat it. But it wrecked me spiritually, mentally, emotionally,” he said.

“I have three young children, I wasn’t thriving and I wasn’t bouncing back, so I wrapped a lot of hope around the fact that if I took a pilgrimage, I could heal myself.

“And it’s absolutely worked – one hundred per cent.”

Mr Harvey said it was two days before the start of his Big Walk that he finally received the news that he was all clear, on Christmas Eve.

“Previously, when I was cancer free I knew there was a chance it would come back,” he said.

“But this time, the doctor said I was cured and told me to get out of the hospital, as they didn’t need to see me anymore.”

“That was wonderful, and then the next day I spent Christmas with my family and the next day I went out on the Big Walk.”

Mr Harvey said his favourite place he’s been to on his Big Walk so far was Orbost.

“I’ve had a lot of varied experiences on this walk, I’ve gone through some full-on forests, but in Orbost they had SES vehicle, a fire truck and a police escort, and there were all these school kids and it was like I was leading a parade and people were waving flags and yelling ‘yay, Captain Australia!’ at me,” he said.

“It was surreal and I’ll carry that memory until the day I die.”

Mr Harvey said he was going to stay overnight at Sale as the Midnight Motor Inn offered him a bed, and after visiting the clock tower the next morning, he would be head through Rosedale and Traralgon, with plans to finish up at Federation Square in Melbourne on Saturday, March 19.

“I’m going to stage it so at 10am I’m at Alexandra Gardens, and anyone who wants to join in can cross the bridge with me to Federation Square, so I hope to see people there, maybe dress up as superheroes,” he said.

“Once I get home, I’ve got to kiss my wife and hug my children again. At that point it will be 84 days I’ve been living day-to-day, so at that point I have to figure out what the rest of my life looks like after incorporating everything I’ve learnt from my walk.

“I hid my cancer from my children until I knew or not whether I was going to survive, because I didn’t want to inflict grief on them if I didn’t need to, and I think that meant by withholding those emotions, I internalised them, and then I carried them, so that was the problem, so I created a constipation of pain, if that makes sense.

“So then when I was walking in the first week, I’d be walking down the beach and just be sobbing like a child, and what I was doing was releasing a lot of that grief and that pain that I had failed to process.”

“Right now, I am stronger in every way that matters as a human being.”

To see more from Captain Australia’s Big Walk or to donate to The Kids’ Cancer Project, go to captain-australias-big-walk.raisely.com

Captain Australia aka Simon Harvey in Sale. Photo: Stefan Bradley

[Originally published in Gippsland Times before the Big Walk had ended]