The Highwayman, Grant Johns' Helping Hands
The Highwayman, Grant Johns' Helping Hands Grant Johns' Helping Hands

Stop and meet a real Aussie swagman

SINCE his television debut on Australian Story more than a decade ago, Grant 'John' Cadoret has become an Australian legend. Described as the 'real Aussie swagman,' for the past 40 years Cadoret has made the highway his home.

"When people first meet him, they love him to bits," Coutts Crossing resident Sue Noddy said.

"Some people have planned their holidays around where he's going because they want to see him again.

"One lady down south was taking him breakfast and decided to take her 80-year-old dad out there to meet him. After that, her dad started disappearing every afternoon to go and have a chat and a beer with John. They went out there day after day on either side of her town."

While those who recognise him gladly pull up on the side of the road to have a chat, some are inspired to join teams dotted around the country whose unified goal is to ensure Mr Cadoret continues walking this sunburnt country as comfortably as possible.

Primarily communicating through the Facebook page The Highwayman, Grant Johns' Helping Hands, Ms Noddy said she joined the support group shortly after meeting him.

"I knew he was around for quite some time and when someone said he was passing through Grafton, I thought, yep I want to meet him," she said.

"I drove out and within 20 minutes I found him. I got him a beer and a cheese sandwich, we had a great yarn."

Three years on, Ms Noddy is now part of the support team who ensure he has enough food, water and warmth on cold nights.

"He's 63 years old, he hasn't seen a doctor for at least 35 years, but he's still vulnerable like us," she said.

"If his boots are looking grotty or he needs a new backpack we find someone in the area that he's coming to and they donate them to him. People in their area are always thinking about what he might need."

Ms Noddy admitted the group occasionally negative feedback about supporting Mr Cadoret's choice to walk the highways rather than settle into a socially acceptable life.

"If we want to be kind to somebody in the world then that's our decision," she said.

"He only takes what he needs and we never give him money. Someone once brought him a box of groceries and he only took a few things then handed the rest back."

At present, Mr Cadoret is in South Grafton heading north along the Pacific Highway and invites anyone to stop in and say hello - - if you can find him.

"People have been looking for John for a long time. Unless he's walking, he can be hard to spot once he blends into the brush!" Ms Noddy said.

If you would like to be involved in or follow Mr Cadoret's journey, you can join the Facebook page HERE.      

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