4 August, 2021
There’s a poem written by Alfred Noyes that encapsulates the idea of the highwayman. But nobody knew a different highwayman would be travelling the roads of Australia today.
Grant John Cadoret, better known as John the Highwayman, has been wandering on foot for over 40 years. Currently on his way to Gilgandra, locals may have noticed John travelling along the highway from Dubbo. He has no destination and no rush, just his swag, bags, and people’s generosity along the way.
“I told myself I was going off for three months, and I just never went back,” said John.
Born in country Victoria, John moved to Melbourne where he worked in a bank. He toiled for four years before wanting a break, and planned to set out on an adventure.
“Once the money ran out, I started living off the highways. Sticking to the main highways, there was always a lot of food that’d been thrown out or bins I could look in.”
“It took over 10 years for my mother to forgive me,” said John.
A writer by the name of Allan Nixon found John and put him in contact with his family.
“He called mum up and told them, ‘your son, he’s alive!’”
John was classed as missing for 15 years before contacting his parents. He was on the missing persons list that you could find at the Salvos or on community noticeboards.
“They knew I was alive before they found me and we were re-introduced. On the other side of Moree, I found half a phone book. The right half of the phone book, and my surnames not common. I found a Cadoret and thought, oh those initials could be my brother. I posted off a letter to them, and when I got in contact to where I posted it, they were long gone by then. But the message was relayed,” said John.
John’s most interesting day on the road has got to be when he found the highway covered in coins.
“I’d never seen anything like it,” he said.
John just happened to stumble across a point on a quiet highway that was filled with gold and silver. Mainly silver he said, but he stills carries some of that coin today.
“I’m still unsure how it could have happened,” said John.
Finding money on the roads these days isn’t as easy as it used to be. John would regularly find a few dollars here and there almost every day, from cars that have broken down, or change that fell out of people’s pockets. But since the normalisation of card and contactless payments, John has found it more and more scarce to find money.
Nowadays, John is overwhelmed by the generosity of strangers. Each day, he is welcomed and waved down by at least 5 people, many of which present him with a hot pie or a bottle of coke.
“I never expected this much generosity or care, but I receive it more now than I ever have before.”
While John may have no agenda, he is still as happy as he was when he set off some 40 years ago.
“I’ve got nothing else I want to do. Too many hassles to do stuff and sort everything out.”