Download the FREE SBS Radio App for a better listening experience
Arjun Singh Bhogal is an adventurer, writer and public speaker currently based in Melbourne.
He is famous for his epic journey covering over 25,000 kilometres (over 15,500 miles) on foot to raise awareness for clean water access.
Arjun had planned this journey with a friend, although it later became a solo mission for him to finish what was started in 2012.
It sounded difficult but ‘achievable’ for this UK-based traveller who walked through harsh conditions with only a backpack from the Welsh city of Cardiff in the UK to the other Cardiff - in New South Wales, Australia.
He told SBS Punjabi that his journey was inspired by the millions of people around the world who walk tens of kilometres every day to source clean and safe water for them and their families.
Arjun's walking route spanned across east European forests, Kazakh deserts (in summer), Kyrgyz mountains (in winter), then through India, South-East Asian jungles and island chains, and then across the vast expanse of the Nullabor on the Australian continent ending his journey in the New South Wales town of Cardiff in May 2017.
Over 25,000 kilometres on foot
The total journey took 5 years, 1 month and 3 days, crossing 20 countries, through deserts, jungles and mountains and through dangerous conflict zone including Afghanistan.
“I had to contend with aspects such as suffering from dysentery in the desert, to being wanted by the Taliban and being kidnapped in the night at gunpoint in Afghanistan,” he said.
He said that most of the journey was a ‘pleasant experience’ where he was joined by friends and people he met along the way and the people who wanted to experience his journey first hand.
Borderwalk Project: A Walk Across the World
The idea of The Borderwalk project was conceived by Arjun and some friends during the last year at university after finding out about problems surrounding clean water access.
The project was inspired by the millions of people who walk for water on a daily basis, sourcing clean and safe water for them and their families, and dedicated to WaterAid, the charity that has been working in this area for years.
A walk across Australia
Arjun says his journey was a strange and curious one.
“From arrival to the very end, Australia never ceased to amaze, confuse, and entertain,” he said.
"My original plan was to travel by ship from Indonesia to Australia, but due to injuries I sustained along the way it took me so long to get to Bali I only had 2 days left on my visa, so the decision was made to get a flight to Perth."
“When I arrived here my body had already sustained a few injuries from the previous months walking and had begun to slowly fall apart.
“The feet and ankles were both screaming for a break and needed some time off to recover. This was about the time when I realised that it’s a tough task to accomplish."
Walking across India
Arjun has a strong connection with India. His parents were born in Kenya but his grandparents are from Punjab, India. His family moved to the UK from Kenya before he was born.
“Entering India after everything that had come before was partially bliss and partially chaotic,” he said.
“Mainly because all I had to do now was continue walking, and chaos because, well… it was India. Within the first two weeks of being there, I had my toes run over by a cycle rickshaw, and a motorbike whilst stationary at traffic lights, accidentally nudge forward into me, forcing my knee to lock, which made walking pretty uncomfortable for the rest of the week.
“Overall, it was a great experience where I’d the opportunity to enjoy the diversity that India offers.”
Arjun brings the Borderwalk story to schools, universities and conferences around the world on a regular basis.
Currently based in Melbourne, Arjun joined The Man Cave to facilitate workshops and camps to help young men in the areas of healthy masculinity, positive mental health, respectful relationships and gender equality.
“I also joined a new speaking company based in Melbourne, set on sharing inspirational stories and achievements to help inspire and encourage young people to take on their own adventures, no matter how big or small and no matter their background,” he said.
“The speaking company will be donating a percentage of proceeds to the chosen charities of the speakers. In my case that will be WaterAid which is a clean water access charity working in over 30 countries around the world including India.”
Walk across Victoria’s iconic Yarra River
Arjun now plans for a walk along the iconic Yarra River to explore and promote its history.
Starting in the Yarra Ranges, the river flows 242 kilometres west through the Yarra Valley paving its way through Greater Melbourne before emptying into Hobsons Bay in northernmost Port Phillip.
Through the charity walk, Arjun aims to promote the history of this river which is known as a life-source and traditional meeting place for Indigenous Australians.