Phil Wills his way along famous route

May 16, 2018

Phil and Susan McDonald when they stopped in at Heathcote.

HEATHCOTE was visited by someone quite remarkable last week.

Phil McDonald is walking the Burke and Wills trek solo, from Melbourne to the Gulf of Carpentaria in Queensland.

Supported by his wife, Susan — who is following in the four-wheel-drive — the Port Melbourne man is hoping to raise $73,000 for the Fred Hollows Foundation.

This equates to $1,000 for every year of his life.

He’s following the 1860 Victorian Exploring Expedition route of Robert O’Hara Burke and William John Wills as close as practicable and aims to average 30km a day.

He left on May 6 from Melbourne and walked 30km to Bulla where he stayed overnight.

On day two, he walked from Bulla to Lancefield and walked a total of 48 km.

Day three he walked from Lancefield to Mia Mia and camped overnight where Burke and Wills would have camped — in temperatures of five degrees.

When the McIvor Times spoke to him on day four of his journey he had left Mia Mia and walked to Heathcote, then it was on to Knowsley where he stayed near the former Moorabbee Hotel on the corner of the McIvor Hwy and the Moorabbee-Foreshore Rd.

His journey is 3,200km in total, with 20 rest days where he will talk to schools and community groups about the original expedition and the work of the Fred Hollows Foundation.

“I read about Burke and Wills as a teenager and I was inspired by their spirit of adventure and saddened by the tragic outcome,” he said.

And he’s no stranger to a hard slog: Phil has completed 16 consecutive marathons and cycled 15,00km around the coast of Australia on a Penny Farthing.

But he said this expedition will be one of the most challenging for him.

“I’m so proud to take on the challenge in support of the Fred Hollows Foundation and help restore sight for those who are needlessly blind,” he said.

“I hope the local communities will come out and support me by sponsoring my trek to help the work of the foundation.”

All funds raised will go to Phil’s $73,000 goal for the foundation.

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