Crescent Head born and bred Benny Scott decided to take his dog Frankie on a very long walk, from Sydney to Darwin, as a way of helping himself and others battling drug addiction.
Both are now at the finish line, where Benny is focussing on his charity work, and getting used to showering daily again.
It was when searching for ways to break a substance abuse spiral that Benny had the "light bulb" moment that led to the launch of Walk2Recovery and his purpose of opening a pet-friendly recovery centre.
Getting Frankie was his first step on the road to sobriety.
While his dog provided unconditional love and companionship, Benny needed more to sustain his recovery.
His loved ones "hassled" him to go to a rehabilitation centre but while he wanted to stay clean, he tried and failed to find any that were pet-friendly.
Benny needed Frankie by his side to conquer his chemical addiction, and wouldn't leave him behind, so he came up with a plan to get better together.
After completing a 12-step program, he took on the challenge of walking from Sydney to Darwin to stay on the straight and narrow, and to kick-start the charity Walk2Recovery.
"It's really hard to get a charity off the ground, so I thought, what better way to do it than take my dog on a very long walk across the country", he said.
On December 29 last year, the duo set off from the "I have a dream" mural in Newtown, Sydney. With the open road of outback Australia ahead of him, Benny wanted to "pay respect to First Nations peoples" from the very beginning.
Benny and his buddy walked for 180 days in total, covering over 4000 kilometres and finding the kindness of strangers along the way.
"I was completely vulnerable living like that for six months, but in all that time I didn't have a bad experience with anyone", Benny said.
He was blown away by the sense of community out on the open road, with strangers happy to help in many ways, such as bringing the pair food, and offering their homes as a place to stay the night.
Benny made plenty of friends on the road and was soon being recognised by motorists.
"99 per cent of people are great. People want to help."
Benny remains in Darwin where he is happy, healthy, enjoying three-course meals, and avoiding baked beans and canned tuna at all costs.
Above all else, Benny is loving life and feeling positive thanks to his newfound purpose.
"Get out there and do good things and good things will happen to you," he said.
The community he found on the open road is now reflected in the support network helping him launch Walk2Recovery.
"It takes an army to build a charity," he said.
The charity's website should launch in the next couple of weeks. Anyone wanting to know more about it, and Benny and Frankie's journey, can also find Walk2Recovery on social media.
Benny hopes to get home to Crescent Head in the near future, and dreams of opening a pet-friendly recovery centre in the area one day soon.
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