Two people who were a part of our Three Years on the Road are no longer with us. Paul, whom Peter and Mihkala stayed with for some time in Broome, led walking tours of the area for tourists, was an active environmentalist, and was also involved in searches for dinosaur footprints around the coasts up and down from Cable Beach and around Roebuck Bay. He also produced his own honey and sold it in the local markets. Peter and Mihkala helped him with his bees, hives, honey making and selling. Sadly, Paul was taken by cancer a year or two later after we met him.
The second person is Victor, the guy who had given up his life in Western Australia to walk (sometimes naked) around Australia and up to Cape York. Karen and I saw or met him on three different occasions and were deeply impressed with his attitude and commitment. After we spoke to him last, near Coen, Victor apparently continued northwards to the tip of the Cape. A newspaper article in early 1996 said that he had been arrested by Papua-New Guinean authorities for illegal entry into their country, by paddling across the Torres Strait in a canoe. The article went on to say that Victor was well liked by the prison personnel and that he had even been invited to Xmas dinner by the head of the prison.
Karen and I heard no more about Victor until the middle of 1999 when we were on a nine day bushwalk from Mittagong to Katoomba with a National Parks Association party. One night a group of us were talking around a campfire and the conversation turned to the quality of dirt roads in the area. I mentioned that "there are no corrugations when you are walking" and related my experiences with Victor, the man whom I was quoting. Barbara, one of the women in our group, suddenly said that she knew Victor. In fact, he was her cousin!
Barbara, who had been a stranger to us prior to the walk, had already amazed us when we had discovered that she and Karen had gone to the same gymnasium in Chatswood for a few months, and had even spoken together on occasions. Finding that she was related to Victor was an even more amazing coincidence. We asked if she had any news of Victor, and that was when Karen and I learned that he had died. He had apparently been released from gaol and had continued his travels into the wilds of New Guinea. He was living with a native tribe when he had contracted malaria and died one day while out fishing in a canoe.
Both men were very different, but also very similar. They were both doing what they loved, and the world is poorer for their passing.