Heartbreak behind this viral photo

By | June 18, 2019

Truck driver Brenton Smart wondered where the old man pulling a cart with a little dog inside could possibly be going, but didn’t have time to stop and ask.

When he passed the pair again later on that February day, he decided to pull over and snap a photograph that has since gone viral.

It shows the man crouched down with his canine companion by the side of the road, sitting in the shade of his homemade cart, having a rest from the blaring summer sunshine.

The man, Paul Murcott, is on a heartbreaking mission to walk from his home in Adelaide to Parliament House in Canberra.

“Turns out he lost his daughter in November last year from suicide,” Mr Smart wrote alongside the photo on Facebook.

In the months since, as Mr Murcott slowly but surely makes his way to the nation’s capital, the post has been shared tens of thousands of times.

Shona Mai was just 32 when she died late last year, leaving behind four children. Mr Murcott was devastated.

“It shouldn’t happen. It’s just so not right,” he told Today Tonight in Adelaide, one of the numerous media outlets to follow his trek.

At risk of falling into a black hole of his own, he decided to set off on a journey to raise awareness of mental health and suicide, in hopes of driving change.

“This trek is in honour of my darling daughter and to try and prevent further youth suicide,” he said.

Mr Murcott has since battled blistering heat, torrential rain, dust storms and, in recent months, plunging temperatures.

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He still has some way to go but said the timing doesn’t matter. Mr Murcott is more concerned with sharing his story and that of his daughter.

“I wanna rattle the politicians’ cages as far as mental health issues are concerned and the lack of resources that go towards prevention of suicide,” Mr Murcott told ABC News Breakfast.

Mr Murcott is sharing his journey via a Facebook page, where he posts regular updates about his progress as well as the people he’s met who’ve “restored a lot of my faith in the goodness of people”.

As his story spreads across the internet, he has received offers of assistance from countless strangers.

There are those who take him in for a night of rest along his route, as well as the lady who had a banner made for the side of his cart.

Someone brought his dog RJ a small bed to sleep in when she’s not happy in Mr Murcott’s swag.

And the messages of support have provided encouragement to carry on with his remarkable journey.

There have also been a flurry of donations to a GoFundMe fundraiser. You can support it here.

If you or someone you know needs help, please contact Lifeline on 13 11 14 or visit lifeline.org.au

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