Walk for Wittenoom Children - Day 5 

by Laurie Kazan-Allen



And so it ended: after 600 km and 5 days, the ADSA walkers negotiated the final 15 km leg of their journey, from Guildford to the ADSA headquarters in Osborne Park. The epic trek, begun in bright sunshine in the West Australian desert, came to its successful conclusion under wet autumn skies in metropolitan Perth. For the triumphal final leg, the walkers, dressed in their iconic ADSA tee shirts, marched together as a group (on previous days they had walked in pairs, kilometres apart). Acknowledged by horn toots from supportive drivers and congratulated by passers-by, along Wannarroo Road they were joined by more ADSA members who covered the final stage of the journey with them.


The walkers make their way down a quiet early-morning street.

The sudden downpour which drenched the walkers and awaiting well-wishers outside the ADSA office did little to dampen the enthusiasm and euphoria which accompanied the knowledge that their mission had been accomplished. At the office, to mark the completion of their journey, was Gary Gray,1 a representative of Prime Minister Julia Gillard, a supporter of this innovative fund-raising event.

Recognizing the importance of the task which had been undertaken, Gray gave his personal assurance that he would be soliciting donations from the Prime Minister and two other Australian Ministers: Greg Combat and Peter Garrett, formerly the lead singer of the Australian hit group Midnight Oil whose song Blue Sky Mine, about the Wittenoom asbestos catastrophe was a 1990 hit in Australia, the U.S., UK, Sweden, Switzerland, and Norway.2

As people entered the ADSA headquarters, wet but still euphoric, there was hot coffee and a sausage sizzle to welcome them. As always the ADSA staff made sure that the essentials were available – what would barbecued sausages be without fried onions and tomato ketchup. The hundred and fifty folks crowding the offices took great pleasure in what the walkers had achieved. There was, of course, personal satisfaction amongst the participants. Derryn (Den) Carnaby's crazy idea to walk from Kalgoorlie to Perth had been accomplished; they said it couldn't be done – but Den was right and they were wrong!3 Siri, who pushed himself to walk 30 km a day to win a bet, met his targets all along the way and Ryan, the youngest walker, had managed to finish the walk despite a hip injury. Ryan's involvement had come about because of a wonderful fellow worker who had been diagnosed with mesothelioma. Ryan is now a fully paid up member of the ADSA and is talking about next year's walk!

Reflecting on the significance of what is now being called the ADSA “Inaugural Walk,” ADSA President Robert Vojakovic said:

“So many people think that asbestos is a thing of the past. But it is not. It's in the air we breathe and the houses we live in. People need to be confronted with this knowledge so they can take appropriate steps to protect themselves and their children. Awareness is crucial.”


See: http://www.asbestosdiseases.org.au/current-events.htm

May 5, 2012


1 Gary Gray is a Special Minister of State, Special Minister of State for the Public Service and Integrity, Member of the Australian Parliament for Brand, Western Australia.

2 http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Blue_Sky_Mining

3 Poloni GD, A long trek to Perth to tackle mesothelioma. May 1, 2012.



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