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May 18, 2024

Pete’s long distance walk highlights racism

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Peter Elzer, who arrived at Brunswick Heads via the beach from Byron Bay on April 5, plans to make a 2,023km walk to 1770, by April 24. Photo Tree Faerie.

#Racism Not Wanted

Peter Elzer says he is symbolically walking racism back in time. Photo Tree Faerie.

A Coffs Harbour man is so fed up with racism he is walking from Melbourne to 1770, that’s 2023kms, in 101 days to make a point.

Peter Elzer says it was a spur of the moment, spontaneous idea that reorganised and set up over a period of months. ‘I just thought I’d do my thing and if others want to join along the way, and well, yes they did.’

Elzer, who passed through the Byron Shire just before Easter, left Melbourne on December 23 with a plan to end up at 1770 on April 24. 

It all started when he thought he would go on a bit of a holiday. ‘I thought “I’m going to walk and I’ll make it include a message. Do something good”. And I thought: “2023 kilometres. Where does that get me from Melbourne? 1770!” You know it’s Cook’s Second landing. It’s the approximate distance. I am symbolically walking racism back in time as well.’

What he was taught in was a lie

Elzer says he is spreading the anti-racism message because he knows now that what he was taught in school was a lie. ‘I realised that this really needs to be called out. What still happens in daily life in regional and rural Australia, where other races and other ethnic people are denigrated and put down and just discriminated against because of their origins or because of their colour.’

Elzer says the action to his slogan #RacismNotWelcome has been pretty well received with responses ranging from the benign to handshakes of enthusiastic agreement.

Elzer says he is holding up well. He has no support team, just a good pair of North Face hiking shoes, and a Trekkers Friend hiking trailer, which have both travelled over the distance well. 

‘The shoes will last the whole distance, 2,500km including all the training, and as long as I keep the weight over the wheels, the trailer is like pulling nothing.’

Will he do another walk? Elzer says he might try to trip in reverse at the end of the year for another good cause. Stay tuned.

Whose stupid idea was this?

Elzer says he has only had one ‘whose-stupid-idea-was-this’ moment. ‘On day three or four I was stuck in the bush and I couldn’t go backwards couldn’t go forwards. Because of a previous bushfire the track in front had overgrown I was stuck in this snake infested bush in Victoria with a mountain behind me which I couldn’t go back up. I had to virtually carry two loads over logs to get out. If I was going to give up it was there, but other than that, it’s been great.’

Elzer says he has also chosen the date of his arrival in 1770 very carefully. ‘I chose April 24, the day before ANZAC because it would be disrespectful of ANZAC Day. I want to make a comparison. Australia would never ever accept having a National Day on the 25th of April. There’d be riots in the streets if we tried to do that.

‘How can we we disrespect our Indigenous People and people who believe that January 26 is invasion day? How can we continue to disrespect them by having a national on this date?’ 

You can follow the adventure on the Stamp Out Racism 2023 Facebook page.

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