Stormtrooper survives 9000km trek across Australia
Scott Loxley has been walking across Australia for more than one year, alone, dressed as a Star Wars Stormtrooper. He has gone through more than 20 pairs of shoes, eaten roadkill and slept in a swag by the side of the road.
The 47-year-old father-of-three left his new wife and family in Melbourne on Nov. 2, 2013, with an aim to cover 15,000 kilometres on foot, non-stop and with no support crew. So far he has walked 9,000km, and with roughly 6,000km left, he won't be home until July next year.
Why would someone wear a heavy costume in desert heat and walk for 18 months straight? Loxley is a member of the 501st Legion, a volunteering group that dedicates itself to supporting children's charities by dressing up in Star Wars costumes.
His massive feat is in support of the new Monash Children's Hospital in Melbourne: He hopes to raise A$100,000 before it opens in 2016. So far he is one-fifth of the way, raising more than A$22,000 (NZ$24,537).
"As a father, if one of my children were hospitalised, I would want them to be cared for by the best staff that have access to the best equipment," Loxley said on his Facebook page. "No matter how tough things get on the road, I know that there are kids battling just to get through the day and doing it with a smile on their face."
It is an amazing story of survival in the harsh Australian outback, where he says his own company is the enemy but to get through he thinks of the children he can help. "You are fighting a mostly mental battle. Some days you wake up and don't want to get up, and you think why I am doing this," he said. "Before I started I went and visited the kids quite a lot of times, I dwell on that a lot and think of those kids on my bad days. Their bad days are worse than this."
The journey that has taken him from Melbourne, to Tasmania, through the gruelling Nullarbor Plain, up the west coast to Broome before heading inland to Catherine and pushing up to Darwin. He still has 6,000km to go before arriving back in Melbourne. The long stretches are isolated and it takes a person who understands the environment to walk them alone.
"I'm so sick of my own company," he said. "I now understand why people do this with a support crew. Just for the interaction."
He said food isn't easy to carry on the long journey, so he has to make do with what is available. This means often surviving by eating snakes, kangaroos, lizards and sometimes bats. He said that even if a snake is poisonous, it is edible and generally "tastes like meat."
Loxley uses whatever he can for snacks and protein. "I put the lizards on the coals, put them in a zip lock bag for protein and snack on them on the road." The dry heat of the day sometimes makes dinner by the side of the road, or he will grab snakes and cable tie them to his trolley alive until they are ready to eat.
"If you think you can walk in the country, this is what you need to do. It was one of the reasons I thought I could do it," the former soldier says in reference to his bushman ways.
His outfit has started to fall apart, but Loxley says he no longer worries about the visual, with the suit stuck together with whatever he could find on the road. When his shoes broke, he found an old tyre to use as a sole and those shoes have now outlasted all his other pairs — still going 3,000km on.
Loxley has watched fires rage across South Australia's Flinders Ranges, has been rained on more times than he cares to remember and has suffered through two weeks of 45 degree heat in South Australia, but he won't give up.
On Tuesday, he came face-to-face with Chopper the crocodile to celebrate arriving at his half-way point in Darwin, Northern Territory. The stunt at Darwin's Crocosaurus Cove is to draw attention to Loxley's plight and if taking on a 5.5 metre croc after walking 9,000km won't do it, we don't know what will.
Amazingly, this isn't the first Australian to attempt such a task. 21-year-old Jacob French walked a more manageable 5,000km from Perth to Sydney in 2012, also dressed as a Stormtrooper.
Loxley, just remember, you're not alone out there.