Walking Across Australia With Matthew "Fenndog" Fennell
It’s a Wednesday afternoon. The two of us are on separate sides of the world. Me? I’m enjoying another beautiful day in San Diego. Meanwhile, Australian outdoorsman, Matthew Fennell—affectionately known as Fenndog—treads through the early morning air in North Queensland, Australia on the side of an empty highway as trucks speed by.
Fenndog and I have a conversation via Instagram DM and go back and forth as I learn more about his current epic quest across the beautiful continent of Australia on foot. Yes, you read that correctly. From the northern tip to the most southern point of Tasmania, this maniac is walking across Australia one step at a time, on a mission to spread suicide and mental health awareness (you can support him here—anything helps!) He’s doing the entire trek unaided and unassisted, armed with nothing more than his backpack, hammock/tent, food/water and a few pairs of Lasso performance socks hugging his feet to assist these ambitious daily treks. He's been moving strong since our friends at Lasso Australia introduced us to Fenndog in July!
At the time of our conversation, he’s 1770km into his journey—much further now as you read this—just north of Sarina (for those who want to pull out the map!) As mentioned, Fenndog is doing this to spread awareness around two topics he holds very personal—suicide and mental health. With that, he joyfully tells me, “I’m also just a psycho and live for pushing boundaries!” Either way, Fenndog has already inspired countless individuals on this journey and continues to do so with every step he takes.
Fenndog can be seen on Instagram daily clocking anywhere from 36-40+ km per day, one foot in front of the other, talking to locals and meeting new friends along the way. And on any given day, that kilometer count might easily be doubled. His infamous beard is hard to miss, so if you're in AUS and happen to see him, pull off and say hello!
Since he began this epic journey, we’ve been following Fenndog, cheering him on from our smartphones here in the States, and felt his story needed to be shared to the masses. With that, you might be wondering how long this trek actually is? “I’m doing 4800+ km on foot, solo and unaided,” he tells me. “And I’m doing it to bring awareness to mental health and suicide. By sharing my life and those around me, I can hopefully save some lives.”
To my surprise, Fenndog has no complaints to dish out about his journey thus far. In fact, his smile seems to grow with every kilometer he covers. “If I’m being 100% honest mate, I haven’t really had too many troubles,” he tells me. “Probably two hours the other day—the wind was becoming a bit much, and the truck noise was annoying me. But in all honesty, it hasn’t been a struggle.” He adds to this, with a confident chuckle, “I’m waiting for the struggles to come, but I trained so hard for this. Nothing bothers me, I’m so mentally strong.”
It’s hard to disagree that this positive, optimistic attitude is exactly what someone needs to cover the amount of ground Fenndog is covering day after day, and it’s proving to work. After a moment, he throws me a few afterthoughts: “Normal fatigue and weight on my back… but these aren’t struggles. They’re just things I’ve had to do. I’ve loved every step. I don’t really know how to answer! I think it’s because this is one-hundred percent my choice, on my terms, so it’s easy.”
Fenndog’s current routine is not like yours and mine. On average, he's covering about 36-40km per day, which brings with it a lot of wear and tear on his feet and ankles, making Lasso socks the only sock for the job. “But I’ve done 108 twice. 131, 55, 78, heaps of 45-47,” he tells me as we exchange video and text messages through Instagram. “And I’ve already done 15 this morning.” I think about that as I sit at my desk during another work day. This guy really is out there living, moving, inspiring. I smile as I picture him smiling behind his bodacious, bouncing beard, treading along down an empty highway, spreading awareness around suicide and mental health. What a legend.
A trip like this takes planning, and Fenndog knew he’d need the best equipment possible to support these long, daily walks. When he found Lasso performance socks, he tells us with relief how spot on they were for this specific journey. Nothing else compares. "I did a mix between Lasso and another sports brand at the start of this and the difference was actually incredible," Fenndog explains. "I think I’ve found the range for them," he laughs. "And it’s about 400km." Before this, Fenndog had never tried Lasso and we're thrilled that the technology and support our socks provide are assisting Matt throughout these long days and nights. The idea of moving with confidence has never rang so true!
Matt tells us he's never taken on a mission like this before, but reminds us he's done countless solo, multi-day hikes. "Indeed I will do more of this!" he tells me when I ask if he'll ever do something like this again. "I have very big plans," he tacks on for good measure.
Meeting people along the way has been a big part of Fenndog's mission. Being face-to-face with these strangers-turned-friends and having the opportunity to talk about his travels while shining light on mental health and suicide awareness is, after all, why he's doing this in the first place. "It’s so humbling how the message has spread and the stories of adversity that are being shared with me," he explains. "I talk to everyone that stops, and apart from that, I’ve had one engagement in front of 200+ people, four radio interviews, and multiple newspaper articles." We're humbled knowing word is spreading fast about Fenndog's journey and message, as it rightfully should. "The best part has just been everyone generally stopping by for a chat," he tells me.
So what sparked an idea of this magnitude in the first place? Fenndog answers like the legend he is: "The realization that I can manifest and achieve anything," he confidently proclaims. Adding to this, he gives us a more personal look into his journey as well, "And the passing of my mate whose partner took her own life only weeks later," he says. "That, mixed with my own struggles through my adult life."
Whether he knows it or not, Fenndog's mission is really helping spread awareness around suicide and mental health. From every conversation he's had, to every thought that passes through his mind at night, the journey continues but the mission never ends.
A few close calls with some dingos, wild hogs and even a crocodile have yet to slow this man down. We salute Fenndog for doing what most people would never do, and are inspired by the reasoning behind it all. Our friend still has a long journey ahead, so take a look at the links below to see how you can support Fenndog (in any way) as he continues to spread hope and positivity across the globe.
"I’d like to thank all my close mates that have helped me find myself again," Matthew concludes. "The ones who support everything I do no matter how wild it gets!"---