Swagman heads to Killarney
AFTER more than 30 years walking the roads in the eastern states, swagman Grant “John” Cadoret is heading to Killarney for the first time this week.
A man of the road, Mr Cadoret said more people had stopped to talk to him after Australian Story on the ABC highlighted him being reunited with his family.
“I have no worries, no hassles on the road, I am not paying anything off,” Mr Cadoret said.
“If I am rich, I buy a hamburger.”
He hitchhiked around Australia with a backpack and tent at 22, but didn’t want to stay in any town.
Mr Cadoret wandered further and further, threw his tent away and as they say, the rest is history.
“I just fell into life on the road,” he said, just before setting up camp behind the long grass on the side of the highway just north of Campbell’s Gully on Tuesday night.
The man of the road has a good memory, he knew the sides of the highway are slashed on the outskirts of Warwick so was careful not to walk too close to town.
He walks 15 to 20 kilometres on a good day and does a circuit from his home state Victoria, through New South Wales and north of Caloundra, Kingaroy and Dalby in Queensland each year.
“I just plod along depending on the country but like to move every day,” he said.
“I went from Gatton through Toowoomba to Warwick. If there is a long way, I take it.”
Mr Cadoret has been through Warwick many times, not necessarily each year, and is heading to Killarney this week and on to Bonalbo and Casino.
On Tuesday, he expressed concern about some of the narrow road shoulders in Queensland, a problem he will certainly encounter from Killarney to Bonalbo.
The Killarney trip is an exception to the rule as he mainly sticks to the highways, better for picking up anything from money to food, Coke bottles and clothing.
“It usually happens all at once,” he said.
He plans to walk the roads as long as the body holds up.
“There is no reason to change,” he said.
Mr Cadoret has no regular income and believes he will have to re-establish his identity if he wants to apply for a pension in a decade or so.
“I was a missing person for 15 years, there are more missing persons than you think,” he said.
It was well-known writer Allan Nixon who tracked down his sister in Ballarat which led to the man of the road putting his walking shoes away for almost three months to look after his sick father in Caloundra.
“I stayed with him until he went into a home,” Mr Cadoret said.
“When I left (to go back on the road), we said our goodbyes. I called my sister regularly as my father wasn’t well and he died a month later between two of the calls.”
While he is happy to be in touch with his family, Mr Cadoret admits to mixed emotions.
“After Allan found my family, I sent a note to say I was alive, it meant more to them than me,” he said.
“It was good to see them but I didn’t want to be hassled and told to come home.”
He admits he wasn’t told to come home and now writes to his mother, who lives in Horsham (Victoria), once a month.
Mr Cadoret rings his mother twice a month if finances permit and stays with her for a couple of days when he walks into Horsham during his annual circuit of the eastern states.
He hears about what is happening in the outside world on the radio.
“If my batteries aren’t good, I don’t get reception in the day but it often fires up at night,” Mr Cadoret said.
“I have some good batteries at present which someone gave me on the other side of Gympie.
“Whether I buy batteries depends on how rich I am.”
The radio allows him to listen to the AFL and follow his favourite team, the Kangaroos.
“I was in Melbourne when they won two premierships and was on the road for the last two flags, I listened to one on the radio,” he said. “I also listen to a lot of rugby league.”
He doesn’t have any vices but admits he doesn’t say no to a stubby on the roadside.
“I partied hard as a young bloke,” Mr Cadoret said.
“We went out with girls in groups; I probably drank a bit too much.”
He doesn’t want to know the weight of his backpack and bags.
“I let a bloke from Warialda weigh them as long as he didn’t tell me, a lot of things are in the mind,” Mr Cadoret said.
In more than 30 years, he has often had his name and details taken down by police, mainly after a phone call.
“I once spent a weekend in a watch-house down south as I had no money, they gave me a good meal,” he said.