Two Afghanistan war veterans are walking 1200km along the Heysen Trail in South Australia to raise money for veteran charity, Soldier On.
The two walkers, 64- year-old Ross Boyd (pictured right), and 65-year-old Ian Errington (pictured middle), are walking from the Flinders Ranges through the winegrowing valleys to the Fleurieu Peninsula, a distance of about 1,200 kilometres.
They have a support crew of one, 76-yearold Tony Turner (pictured left), a Vietnam veteran. “The scenery is amazing, and the people are beautiful,” says Ian of the trek so far. At time of writing, the team was heading into Kapunda, having trekked over 400km so far.
“The weather is challenging sometimes, with horizontal rain and the cold snap” says Ross. “And some bloody big hills,” adds Ian. But all three agree it’s a truly beautiful part of the world and the people they’ve met are very friendly and welcoming.
“It’s just been incredible. We’ve met locals and other hikers and everyone has been so kind.”
All three are doing the track to support Soldier On, an ex-service organisation (ESO) that provides health, employment, social and educational support for veterans.
“We’ve been meeting lots of people in these small towns who have family members in the military or have just got out and they’d say appreciate the help,” says Tony.
“It’s been great to connect with them and let them know Soldier On is there to help.” Calling themselves “Old Vets Stomping”, Ian and Ross have previously walked many trails together, the Kokoda Track, El Camino and a host of smaller endeavours.
They have raised in excess of $14,000 for Soldier On in previous treks and to date, they’ve raised over $6000 for the Heysen trek. They both enjoy the companionship, the reflective time, and the challenges to both mind and body provided by long walks. As they have always walked by themselves, they are enjoying the new experience of having a support element.
“I’m chief cook and bottle washer. I’ll leave the walking up to the young blokes,” says 76- year-old Tony, laughing.
Although the Heysen Trail travels through a lot of areas controlled by SA Parks and Forestry there are ample opportunities for the veterans to travel through the more populated areas and the team has been sampling the famed wines and culinary experiences of the district.
The plan is to finish the trek at the end of June at the Fleurieu Peninsular. To support Old Vets Stomping, please visit their website.