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Ben’s personal challenge

Ben Dyer has a passion for trekking the wilderness, having traversed the scenic route of Pacific Crest Trail in the USA. Now, he is somewhere in NSW, making his way along the Bicentennial National Trail.
Ben Dyer has a passion for trekking the wilderness, having traversed the scenic route of Pacific Crest Trail in the USA. Now, he is somewhere in NSW, making his way along the Bicentennial National Trail. Contributed

AT THE end of a long day, Ben Dyer pulls up camp and fixes himself a home-made dehydrated dinner.

He unfolds a small tent, unravels a sleeping bag and removes his shoes to rest his numb feet.

The evening procedure is a daily ritual for the nomad, who is currently somewhere in New South Wales along the Bicentennial National Trail.

Ben, 30, who grew up in Gympie, set off to trek the Bicentennial National Trail solo from Melbourne to Cooktown on January 25.

He is following a history-laced path set down by drovers who traversed stock routes along the Great Dividing Range.

The trail links numerous stock routes together to form the country's longest marked, non-motorised, self-reliant multi-use, trekking route in the world.

It was linked together by drover Dan Seymour, backed by RM Williams, on horseback in the 1970s.

The trail stretches 5330km from Healesville in Victoria to Cooktown in North Queensland. So far Ben has covered around 1700km.

Ben Dyer
Ben Dyer CONTRIBUTED

 

His expedition requires fitness, planning and experience as it winds through some of the country's lushest national parks, open plains, valleys, mountains and wilderness.

Today he should be somewhere just north of Nundle, NSW.

When he's lucky, Ben will find someone to chat with.

Once his companion was a woman with three horses. He caught up with her at the Jenolan Caves after tracking her for days.

Another time he was greeted by a "trail angel" in the form of a farmer who offered him a dry place to sleep for a night.

At planned stops along his route Ben picks up supply packages sent by family members.

The packages mainly contain food but sometimes they hold a new pair of shoes; important as he goes through one pair of running shoes every 500km.

Dyer's feet have easily covered more than 10,000km of walking trails in countries around the world.

He and his partner Kate Manning were the first people in 2011 to complete the 4265km Pacific Crest Trail from Mexico to Canada, which lead him through mountains, long dirt roads and snow.

His passion for the outdoors also drove him to complete the Kokoda Trail along side his father Barry last year and he's spent time persuading his mother Jenny to join him on the El Camino De Santiago trail challenge.

Jenny says her son has always had a love for the outdoors and the massive walks are his own "personal challenge".

"You learn a lot about what you can do... when he's out there fending for himself," she said.

However surprisingly, despite numb toes and the occasional blister, Ben says his body feels amazing during his on-foot adventures.

It's been a daily case of one foot in front of the other for Ben since January while tacking the trail, and he covers about 50-70km a day while dodging tiger snakes, hiking mountains and navigating rivers.

For the average Joe, the journey has the makings of a trying, painful and arduous challenge, so why does Ben do it?

"Because he can," Jenny said.

"For an adventure."

Topics:  bicentennial national trail

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