The right track ... Ally Durr, 16, will walk from Victoria to Tharwa to raise awareness of Lyme disease. Photo: Supplied
Ally Durr, 16, of Queanbeyan, speaks with conviction in her voice when she says ''I love birds and plants''. And it's just as well she loves them because, soon, they will be almost all the company she'll have for five weeks.
From December 8 she plans to walk, alone, the 650 kilometres of the Australian Alps Walking Track.
In the time she expects to take from Victoria to the end at Tharwa in the ACT's bushy backyard, her only guaranteed meetings with any members of her own species will be when her parents make occasional food drops at far apart places along the long trek. She may very well see more wombats and eagles (neither species great conversationalists) on her walk than she sees humans.
She's making the unusual trek to raise awareness of the poorly understood Lyme disease. Her hope is that when people are alerted to the oddity of the walk she's doing, she will be able to talk about the disease - which badly afflicts one of her friends, Hannah Coleman - while she has their attention. Ally says Hannah is her inspiration for the walk (''I'm doing it for her'') not only because Hannah is an inspiring soul but also because her plight with a neurological version of Lyme disease is emphasising for Ally her great good fortune in being hale and hearty. ''Because I can do it [stride the walking track] I should do it.''
But, as well, and already a prodigious hiker (with her father and brother she's completed the daunting Kokoda Track), she's really looking forward to the hike just as a superhike.
''I'm doing it as a challenge, and I like walking by myself and camping by myself,'' she explains, boisterously.
''I like it because you don't have to talk to people and you can go as fast or as slow as you want. Yes, I may talk to myself a lot because [laughing] people tell me that helps to stop you going crazy. And at night I'll have plenty of reading because I'm fond of history and I'm going to put some books on my iPhone.''
Yes, perhaps she'll be able to read, around the campfire, to the wombats.
For someone so at ease on her own and with not having to talk to people, she was also expecting to be fairly at ease this week up on the stage of her school, Karabar High School, addressing everyone at assembly (about 800 souls) about her looming trek and about Lyme disease and its prevention.
After the weeks of talking to herself and reading history books (as bedtime stories) to wombats, Ally Durr expects to arrive at Tharwa about January 12.
There is enlightening information about Lyme disease at the website of the Lyme Disease Association of Australia from which there are links to Karl McManus Foundation website and to Ally Durr's own website.