MY MONEY

Why Anthony Sharwood left journalism to trek the alps

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Sports, outdoors and general news writer Anthony Sharwood had been working for major news websites for 17 years before he decided to document his journey along the 660km Australian Alps Walking Track in December 2019.

Being a lifelong lover of Australia's high country, Sharwood wanted to see it all and immerse himself in the landscape of his dreams - to cross it in its entirety, not just visit the photogenic sections. Halfway through the hike, he realised how burnt out he was and knew he couldn't return to his former life.

After publishing his book about the journey, Sharwood is currently working as a media strategist for an environmental group and has other plans for 2021. Watch this space.

Anthony Sharwood trek alps

What was your first job?

At the end of year 10, two mates and I went cherry picking in the NSW town of Young. We camped on a farm and worked really hard, but by the end of each day, we'd picked far fewer cherries than the experienced pickers - and earnt barely enough money for food. It was a great lesson in how hard it is to earn a dollar.

What's the best money advice you've received?

"Horses don't bet on people and that's why they never go broke". That's a line from the late great Australian writer Frank Hardy.

What's the best investment decision you've made?

My 1880s sandstone cottage in southern Sydney. But since it's my residence, I don't really class it as an investment. I might be the only person you've ever featured on this page who has no shares or other investments (apart from super).

What's the worst investment decision you've made?

Having said what I just said, we should have bought in the Sydney market earlier than 2012.

What is your favourite thing to splurge on?

Anything that's snow-related, and on my wife and kids obviously. I combined both in 2015 when we spent my long service leave in the French Alps. We were utterly broke afterwards, but we'll talk about that trip forever.

If you had $10,000 where would you invest it?

In my children.

What would you do if you only had $50 left in the bank?

Wait, I've got fifty bucks? Woohoo! I'm a dad from the suburbs with two kids and a mortgage. It's always a good day when I have a positive bank balance.

Do you intend to leave an inheritance?

I intend to leave behind words, ideas and hopefully, a better world. Any financial leftovers will be a bonus.

What was the inspiration for your journey?

I was mentally cooked after years of digital journalism and needed to digitally detoxify, and the Australian Alps have always been my obsession. Also, having interviewed numerous adventurers over the years, I'd always wanted to plan and undertake my own mini expedition.

What was the most incredible part of the journey you took for the book?

It was a hundred different things. Trudging through knee-deep summer snow on the Baw Baw Plateau, having Victoria's highest peak Mt Bogong to myself on a clear windless day, sharing Australia's highest peak Mt Kosciuszko with 200 day hikers thinking, "Ha! I've come a bit further than you!", walking with emus south of Thredbo, straddling the infant Murray River with one foot in Victoria and one in NSW (you can't do that now!), keeping my cool during navigational and medical mishaps, and morning coffee brewed among the alpine mint bushes. And when the walk was done, interviewing almost 20 scientists, historians, hiking experts, national parks officers and more to help readers understand the unique, fragile Australian landscape I walked through.

Would you do it again or recommend it to others?

I'll definitely do the sections I missed (due to fire) in coming summers. Anyone thinking of doing the entire AAWT should prepare physically, mentally, and logistically for several months as I did.

Finish this sentence: money makes...

The world go square. We all need money, but it is a means to an end. If you obsess over it too much, you're missing the point.

Win one of five copies of From Snow to Ash by Anthony Sharwood here.

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Julia Newbould is a financial writer and commentator with a background in journalism. She was previously editor of Financial Planning and Super Review magazines; managing editor at InvestorInfo and at Morningstar Australia. Julia co-authored The Joy of Money, a book on women and personal finance. She holds a Bachelor of Economics from the University of Sydney where she serves on the alumni council.
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