As Benny Scott (and his dog Frankie) get set to complete a 3900km walk from Sydney to Darwin this weekend, he shares a heartfelt thank you to a veteran truckie who has helped keep him fuelled along the way.
Scott started a charity called Walk2Recovery, which raises awareness for addiction and mental health issues. His goal is to set up a pet-friendly Recovery Centre on NSW’s mid north coast.
“Charities can be quite hard to get off the ground, so as part of my own recovery as well, I thought what better way to do it than to take a long walk with the dog,” Scott said.
The walk started on December 29. As they’ve been travelling on foot, they embarked on their journey with minimal supplies.
“Frankie is living his best life, a little the same as it is for me – it’s awesome but it’s also hard work and quite hot. I have two prams I push, one carries water, and the other carries Frankie when he’s tired,” Scott explained.
However it was recently that they met a kind-hearted truckie named Barry Flanagan, 75, who pulled up beside them in the Mack Titan he drives for Ostojic Transport.
The Mt Isa based veteran truckie, who has spent the past 50 years behind the wheel, runs between Mt Isa and Tennant Creek four times a week.
They crossed paths while Scott and Frankie were walking from Queensland to the Northern Territory, on an isolated route.
“On the first day a local truck driver named Barry saw Frankie and I walking along this deserted highway and stopped to ask if we needed anything. I politely declined but after he insisted, I said some extra dog food would be amazing,” said Scott.
“He proceeded to go beyond that by keeping us well fed for the next week and a half. The days he was not on the road and passing us, he’d radio through to his colleagues to stop and drop off breakfast, lunch and dinner for not only Frankie but myself as well.”
From Powerades and steak and salad rolls, to toasties, muffins, fruit and even baby wipes, Flanagan’s generosity was incredible.
“He would even go to the length of heating up our rolls and toasties in his truck before handing them to me on his way past.
“He also paid in advance prior to my arrival at Three Ways Roadhouse for a T-bone steak dinner, big English breakfast and a room for the night,” Scott said.
And for Frankie, there bags of kibble, and even steaks and sausages, to ensure he was well fed. “Yes, Frankie has been putting on weight since we met Barry,” Scott joked.
“Barry’s made a massive difference. It went from a survival mission to a race because I had fuel, energy and good morale to push as hard as I could and as fast as I could. We wouldn’t have starved but we were on canned food, then we would have restocked at Barkly, so it would’ve been touch and go, but with Barry it’s been great,” he added.
“He basically made it all possible. It would have been a really hard, tough time otherwise. He’s radioed through to his colleagues, friends and family too so they’ve all been stopping and looking after me. I haven’t had to buy dog food since I entered NT.”
When Big Rigs spoke to Flanagan, he was ever so humble. “That’s nothing, I’d help anyone out if I saw them on the road,” he said.
“I was talking to him yesterday and he’d be a couple of hundred kilometres from Darwin. He was walking along and was pretty tired. He’s worn out about five sets of boots – and they’re proper walking shoes. Frankie nearly wore his pores off too. He’s going alright. I have a few mates that call in and see him and make sure he’s going good, and he is.”
Flanagan first spotted Scott while driving through Avon Downs in the Northern Territory. “He was just going down the hill when I came along and I’ve seen him nearly every day. It’s been no drama – I just wanted to make sure he had something to drink and eat and we’ve had some good chats. I was just pleased he was such a nice fella and the dog would always wag its tail when I pulled up. There were lots of cars and trucks pulling up too,” he said.
“But it’s not about me, it’s about Benny, he’s doing a great job. He’s had some problems in the past and that’s how it started, so to be able to do this you have to be mentally strong. He does up to 63 kilometres a day. Before I got the tracker, I’d think he’d be in one spot and he’d be 15 kilometres further along.
“I have a tracker on him now so I can tell where he is. I’ve been running up here for more than 50 years, so I know a lot of people and I just rang them up and said hey can you drop him a sandwich or Powerade on the way past – so they all call in and they have a chat too. And it’s kept me pretty happy watching his progress.