January 16, 2021

John Cadoret: Just Walking - for 40 years


This is a true story. 

Driving west out of Deniliquin early yesterday, I came across this old chap shuffling along the edge of the road, struggling with his burden of heavy-looking bags and kit.

Heading in the same direction, I couldn't just drive by without enquiring whether I could offer him a lift. Thinking he may have broken down and left a car somewhere (which I hadn't noticed).

"G'day mate!" I called out "Everything okay?" To which he stopped, turned to me and with a wrinkled grin, replied "Yep, all good."

Somewhat taken aback I persisted, seeing how it was clear he was struggling with his load and the day was already warming up.

"Do you need anything? Food? Water?" I inquired, thinking I would surely find something this chap could use and I had a modest larder of rations I could easily spare.

"No, thank you," he replied with cheerful politeness, but clearly pleased I had at least asked.

Our brief interaction concluded soon after, but I did learn that John had started off hitchhiking, but was now "just walking" - and had been for the last 40 years!

John meets his newest Facebook fan near
Deniliquin (Deanne Stevens/Facebook)
I asked if he had considered one of those lightweight trolleys I'd seen other ultra-marathon walkers use.

"Nah," he replied, "then you're stuck on the roads. I can jump fences and go cross country if I want."

Does he do odd jobs? How does he get by?

"I'm quite well known," he said, a little pleased with himself. "People look after me."

And with that, I bade him farewell and wished him safe travels and, with a cheery smile, he did likewise. Oh, to be so untroubled by the strife in the world. To be so unfazed by mind-numbing politics and the evils of capitalism, or anything at all really.

A little farther along at a traffic stop for roadworks I got chatting with a local and mentioned he should be on the lookout for this wayward soul.

"Oh, okay, yeah I saw him a few years ago. So he's back? Apparently, he just walks around Australia."

It seems I had met a minor celebrity. A real-life 'Forrest Gump" or a modern 'Swaggie''

At the end of my drive, I looked him up and amazed to find he has a cult following, fan pages and has even been featured on the ABC's Australian Story and in just about every regional newspaper you can imagine. 

For someone who's done as many road miles as me these last 40 years, I'm surprised I've never met John before yesterday. 

His full name is Grant John Cadoret and he left his job in the bank in 1977 for a hitchhiking holiday and just never came back. He was listed as a missing person for 20 years but has since been reunited with his family and continues to keep in touch.

John in 2014 (ABC)

Here's an interesting radio interview from the ABC some while back: A Modern Day Swagman

So John will be heading toward Swan Hill and will probably be in that vicinity toward the end of January - unless he changes his mind. If you see him, be sure to pass on the regards of his many friends and fans. Offer him some water and food, but don't be surprised or offended if he declines, just wish you had the peace of mind this lonesome man enjoys. 

* Has anyone else met this remarkable man? Share your comments.

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