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Man, donkey on trail of adventure

Norton Judd and his donkey Esther enter Rockhampton while undertaking a mammoth journey on the Bicentennial National Trail from Healesville in Victoria to Cooktown in North Queensland. Mr Judd says he meets people from all walks of life on his journey.
Norton Judd and his donkey Esther enter Rockhampton while undertaking a mammoth journey on the Bicentennial National Trail from Healesville in Victoria to Cooktown in North Queensland. Mr Judd says he meets people from all walks of life on his journey. Chris Ison

NORTON Judd counts himself lucky he found Esther, the 10-year-old jenny which has been hauling 45kg of his possessions through wilderness and over mountains for five to six hours every day.

Mr Judd, who has been travelling on the 5330km Bicentennial National Trail from Healesville to Cooktown since June 2009, walked into Rockhampton yesterday after he found his path, over the Glenroy Crossing, was flooded by the Fitzroy River.

He found Esther, his donkey, at Kolonga and the pair has been inseparable since.

So the question remains, why a donkey – a search which took more than a year.

“It must go back to my Sunday school days,” he said.

“I’m (also) a farmer’s son.”

The 71-year-old said his journey was a “desire to escape the trap of retirement” and Melbourne suburban life.

He has “no set program” and has been completing the track in sections, sometimes doubling back.

“You meet fantastic people.

"You meet people you have never met in the city,” Mr Judd said, adding that he found Queenslanders far friendlier than Melburnians.

Mr Judd said he would spend several days in Rockhampton taking in the sights and paying his bills before making his way to the next stop, Marlborough.

According to www.nationaltrail.com.au it is the longest marked, non-motorised, self-reliant multi-use trekking route in the world.

It is suitable for horse riders, walkers and mountain bike riders but not for any motorised transport.

Topics:  adventure donkey journey rockhampton trail walking


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