A group of intrepid Melburnians are thumbing their ways around Tasmania this month — braving the changeable weather conditions as they wait on the side of the road for a helpful lift. Competitors in The Big Green Hitch are raising funds for Friends of the Earth as they race to certain locations around the state.

Hitchhiking competitors, The Big Green Hitch, Mount Field National Park, Tasmania, January 2015
The group of hitchhiking competitors rest and connect together after reaching Mt Field National Park.

Points are allocated for the first, second and third teams to arrive at their prearranged location. Everyone gets to rest for one day, and then the slowest team are sent on their way first, with the previous winners being the last to leave.

It’s less of a serious race than an excuse to meet a range of interesting people around the country and spread the news of what they’re doing. The hitchhikers report that the drivers who pick them up are eager to assist them, and many drivers feel more competitive about their riders’ standing in the competition than those who are actually in the race!

Pademelon and our vehicles at the campground, Mt Field National Park, Tasmania, January 2015
Fat little pademelons graze among the campsites at Mt Field National Park.

We parked last night at the campground of Mt Field National Park, primarily to continue a conversation that had started on the roadside when a friend and I passed each other on the road and then each pulled off to say hello. In camping alongside a friend and talking long into the night, I’m reminded how good it is to share openly with another person. Sometimes I’m reticent with my issues because I’m reluctant to open myself up to deeper examination.

As I share the depths of my story with those who live alongside us — those issues that I would never share online — I’m met with the same level of intimacy. I’ve heard stories of single-parenting that make me weep, how a partner’s death has led someone into the pursuit of soul midwifery, tales of parents who never spoke of their gay adult children for fear that their chuch-mates would ostracise them, and how family members are often the first to curse and the last to forgive.

Michael Leunig cartoon about vulnerability
Cartoon by Michael Leunig.

Brené Brown says:

“The difficult thing is that vulnerability is the first thing I look for in you and the last thing I’m willing to show you. In you, it’s courage and daring. In me, it’s weakness.”

So I’ve lately discovered that in saying, “Hey, I’ve got this thing going on. What do you think?”, I’m rewarded with wisdom and gentle encouragement. Long may that continue!