When William Owens spoke to a swaggie at the side of the road near Dubbo, he soon discovered he was in the presence of a local legend.
DUBBO: Grant “John” Cadoret has been wandering the highways of Eastern Australia for more than 40 years.
He became a regional icon after his first television appearance on the ABC’s Australian Story in 2004.
In 1977, at just 22 years of age, he decided to leave his Melbourne bank job and never look back, living his life on the road.
His endless roaming has earned him the nickname, The Highway Man.
“I said I was taking a three months holiday and just took off,” he explained as he walked the road between Dubbo and Wellington.
“After a while I thought this was alright, so I just kept on going.”
Now in his mid-sixties, Mr Cadoret recently made the trip up from Cooma along the Newell Highway, and was intending to head north towards Tamworth and then eventually the top end of Queensland.
“My walk takes a loop, I just go up to Northern Queensland and then turn around and travel back down to Victoria,” he said.
“I’ve got a brother and sister in Ballarat [Victoria], and when he was alive my dad was in Caloundra [Queensland] so I’d stop there and say hello to him as well, although these days I just keep wandering around there”.
“No one is telling me what to do, if I get fed up I can always go camp in the bushes”.
However, having spent most of his life exposed to the Australian elements, Mr Cadoret believes that the heat and dry spells in rural areas are lasting longer, making his travels all the more difficult.
“The heat definitely lasts a lot longer, at the moment I do a bit – sit down, do a bit, sit down.”
A Facebook group dedicated to the swagman’s travels has been created by a group of people on the NSW Central Coast, who regularly update their members on Mr Cadoret’s endless journey. The group has more than 18,000 members.
While he does not ask nor expect any assistance, such updates allow everyday Australians to assist him with food, water and other supplies.
The updates also ensure someone is always checking that Mr Cadoret’s okay.