One woman, her trolley and a 4,500km walk home

“I’m not trained to teach or heal and sometimes I wonder how I could ever make a difference - I can walk, and so that’s what I’ll do, walk.”

Sue Wellington is a woman on a mission - a mission to walk nearly 4,500 kilometres, across three Australian states in a timeframe of six months.

With only her trolley named ‘The Ladies’ Auxiliary’ by her side, the 52 year old Western Australian plans to walk from Melbourne back to her home in Geraldton, Western Australia starting April 23, in an effort to raise funds and awareness for dementia.

Sue said she hopes to raise at least $25,000 for the Alzheimer’s Australia Dementia Research Foundation (AADRF) towards research into finding a cure for dementia.  

“Dementia in all its forms is a cruel thief of our people. It robs memory, confidence, independence and life from people we love and admire. The impact on families is enormous and the change of dynamics in relationships can be very difficult to accept,” she said.

“We have to make headway on finding a cure as well as becoming a community that can care for all concerned, whether it is the person diagnosed or the people who care for them.”

The cause is close to Sue’s heart with a family who “know this disease all too well”. Sue hopes to use the walk to contemplate what part Alzheimer’s plays in her own life as well as to hear others stories and increase awareness and discussion about dementia in the communities she visits along the way.

The name of Sue’s trolley ‘The Ladies’ Auxiliary’ is a tribute to a close friend who she sadly lost to cancer last year.

“We had always wanted to start a stitching group and call ourselves ‘The Ladies Auxiliary’. She was the first person I told about the walk and she was my biggest supporter. It just seems right.

“’The Ladies Auxiliary’ is a nod to all those strong women behind me – past, present and future. There’s several strong men supporters too I must point out! This wouldn’t have happened without them. So I guess it’s a collective name for all the support I have been given,” Sue said.

Sue said that to prepare for her walk she has been filling ‘The Ladies’ Auxiliary’ up with potting mix and pushing it up hills.

Although admittedly experiencing some self-doubt, Sue is excited to start her journey.

“I am looking forward to being surrounded by nature, having the country around me like a blanket so that my footsteps will become a form of stitching across the land, is how I like to look at it.”

“After having thyroid cancer in 2013, I spiralled into a steady routine of health anxiety. Feeling shattered by the amount of time and energy spent on this, I became driven to do something big – to find perspective and to do something to help where it is needed.

“Life is wonky, I really don’t know if I will be able to do this, but if I don’t start, then the outcome is certain. I just have to put one foot in front of the other. I invite you to follow me on my journey and consider a donation to this worthy cause,” she said.

To make a donation to Sue’s fundraiser visit her MyCause page or to follow Sue’s journey visit her Facebook page.

To contribute to the AADRF through your own fundraiser or event click here or contact us at foundation@dementia.org.au.