A plumber is set to become the first Englishman to complete a gruelling trek for more than 150 years.
Roger Evans, from Blackpool, has just finished an epic 2,350 miles on foot – from Darwin in the north to Melbourne in the south – on his own.
The South Shore dad-of-two, who celebrated his 57th birthday during his trip, is raising funds for a charity set up in honour of Ben Trend, a popular Fylde rugby player who died on holiday with his wife five years ago.
The 30-year-old was an avid sports and fitness fan who ran marathons to fund-raise thousands of pounds for charity himself.
Ben died on holiday in South Africa after succumbing to secondary drowning – a condition caused when water inhaled into the lungs causes trouble breathing, often after a near-drowning.
Roger, a longtime friend of the Trend family, said: “It’s been pretty awesome. Whatever expectations I had of this trip have been blown out the water.
“It’s actually too difficult to pick the best thing about it because the whole trip has been good.
“I have never really known where I’m going to be after I have got up in the morning. That’s the beauty of it.
“All I know is every day I head south. After that, once I have packed up my tent and I’m on the road, it’s unpredictable.”
Roger has a history of completing gruelling feats for charity.
In 2013, he walked the Pennine Way, a 258-mile journey in 20 days, and last year he raised funds again by cycling the length of the country, from John O’Groats to Land’s End.
Before he set off in April, he estimated the trek would take him seven months, and joked: “I’ve only got short legs”.
Roger, who has averaged around 13 miles a day, is now expected to travel by boat to Tasmania for a further three weeks’ walking, having burned through two pairs of boots during his trip.
When he reaches the small township of Southport, the most southern in Australia, he will be the first Englishman to have made the journey on his own, through the centre of the continent, since the 1860s.
Roger said: “As far as I’m aware, and from the research we have done, there is no Englishman who has crossed Australia from Darwin to Southport.
“It’s been very difficult at times.
“It has been extremely mentally and physically demanding at times but why no other Englishman has done it I don’t know.”
A spokesman for Ben Trend Get Involved said: “He intends to spend Christmas and New Year in Tasmania and then journey on to New Zealand.
“He should be proud and we should be proud of him.”
To donate, visit www.justgiving.com/rogwalksoz